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Friday, January 17, 2014

Finding ability, a positive attitude, and a greater motivation for cycling

Finding ability, a positive attitude, and a greater motivation for cycling
By:  Michael G. Lander

Some cycling events can be a true test of endurance like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's
FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150.  For most of the cyclists who participate in this event, it is a two-day,
150-mile bike ride.  The cyclists in this photo are pictured as the ascend what is known as "the wall"
on Day 2, (Sept. 9, 2012).

The American novelist and screenwriter, Raymond Chandler, once said that, "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."

These words would, no doubt, resonate with anyone who has found any degree of success in sports, business, academics or any other pursuit in life.  This would be no less true for those committed to cycling, especially those who do it at a more competitive level.

It would be safe to say, like with any other athlete, a cyclist's ability to perform at a higher level often only comes through sacrifice, hard work, and intensive training.  What gets you there, however, is motivation and no world class athlete makes it without this.

From the more casual and recreational cyclist to the more competitive one, finding the motivation to ride and staying at it can be one of the biggest challenges that anyone can face.  It is for this reason that it is always important to first establish why you want to ride and what your ultimate goals are in doing it.
 

Whether it is simply a way to take in some scenery, to spend some time with friends or family, to get some exercise, or to help with losing some weight, it should always be an activity that is fun and enjoyable for you.  This will make you less inclined to try to find ways or excuses of getting out of doing it.

As in other sports, conditioning and training are absolute essentials to improving and maintaining performance in cycling.  Those who want to do better, to ride longer, and to ride faster must be willing to commit the time and resources that are necessary and this means riding as often, and with as much intensity, as you are able to.

With that, it is also a good idea to set both short-term and long-term goals and to track your progress as well.  This allows you to see how you are doing and where you are improving.  This can help you in determining what adjustments or changes you might need to make.  Working and riding with others who are more experienced cyclists themselves can also be invaluable.  Your performance can also be greatly enhanced by reading books, magazines, and online articles and by watching videos on topics related to cycling.

In addition to that, you can also search for role models to help guide and inspire you.  From national to international cycling events, cyclists have tested the limits of human endurance and accomplished amazing feats for decades.  If you live in the Memphis area and are looking for inspiration, you need only to look at Memphis native and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Kristin Armstrong.  For years, her mantra has been "You have to live with this ride," and "you're only as good as your last result."

There are times, however, that despite your best efforts , it may seem difficult or impossible to keep at it.  Anyone who has experienced the occasional pain, discomfort, and exhaustion from a long-distance bike ride knows this all too well.  Setbacks, failures, and disappointments can and should be expected, but it is important not to let this derail you from staying the course.  Lessons can always be learned and success can often come from failures, adversity and shortcomings.  The important thing is to make the most of it and to turn it around to your advantage.

Motivation relies on self-discipline, drive, and determination and it comes with knowing that most things in life worth having do not usually come easy.  It takes considerable time, effort, and perseverance to get better.  By working hard, not giving up, remaining focused on achieving your goals and by maintaining a positive attitude about it, you should be able to experience both success and a feeling of accomplishment each and every time that you meet or exceed your goals. 

The ability to succeed must first begin with motivation and then having the attitude that you can and will do it.  As the Star Trek character, Jean-Luc Picard often said, you just need to "make it so." 

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