Have you ever found yourself concerned about how you will get through a challenging day on the bike? Do you ever find yourself getting distracted by things you have little or no control over? Perhaps worrying about other rider’s performance, changes in the weather, steep gradients, technical problems and the list can go on, but all of these things have something in common; they can all equally prevent you from riding, and performing the way you want to. It’s time to start getting the best out of yourself, by becoming a focused cyclist, whether you’re choosing a Galibier to Ventoux tour or other road cycling holidays and challenges.
Plans Are There To Help You Focus
Thinking extensively about how you might feel at the end of a week, or the end of a particular day you’ve picked out as being especially tough looking is not always conducive to you performing to your best right now. If you go into a ride or trip concerned about how you might feel in the future, or have doubts about if you have what it takes to go the distance, this can prevent you from performing to the best of your ability and can even ultimately become frustrating.
From the experience I’ve gained from riding in the mountains with many people for over a decade, I’ve discovered that thinking about how fast, or fit other riders are, or how challenging the next few days look to be can wreak havoc with your own ability to ride well. It’s highly unlikely that you or I will ever be the fastest, or fittest rider in the world (that’s reserved for the pros and world champions). However, what we can control is focusing on being the best rider we are personally capable of being.
To start moving closer to fulfilling our potential, a good starting point is to have a ride plan for each event, challenging trip or multi-stage event, and have the confidence to stick to this plan once it’s been nailed down. It’s worth remembering that it can be very advantageous to be focused only on the part of the ride that you are experiencing at the present moment in time, whilst working/riding through the plan. If you are consistently thinking about how hard the final few kilometres of the 3rd climb of the day is, how can you possibly be giving your best right now? I’d also highly recommend leaving the analysis of the day until after the ride is over. Mid-ride analysis is just another trap that can easily be fallen into. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Before a ride, have you ever tried to break what looks to be a very challenging day down into manageable chunks? If you have already done this, have you tried to focus your attention purely on each individual phase of your plan at any one time? If you have, you’ll know that a lot of worry, or even stress, can be removed from a situation just by concentrating on what you are supposed to be doing at that specific point in time. There’s no point in burdening yourself with worry about what may or may not come later, deal with and overcome that later when you need to. It’s a small thing, but by continually reminding yourself to concentrate on only this section of road, this kilometre, these next 10 pedal strokes until the gradient relents, can make a big difference to your day.