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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Competitiveness and perseverance makes for better cyclists

Competitiveness and perseverance makes for better cyclists
By:  Michael G. Lander
Competitiveness, and the desire to win, is often one of the greatest
motivators for those participating in cycling events.
Exhilaration, pride and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment often come with winning. Professional racing cyclist, André Greipel, described the feeling that he had when crossing the finish line and winning one of the stages in the Tour de France as a "few seconds in heaven."   It is the kind of sentiment that many other successful cyclists have either felt or wished for each and every time that they have competed.

Everyone who competes wants to win, to be recognized for their hard work, and to experience those few fleeting moments of glory.  It is what motivates most athletes and it is what they live and strive for.

Down deep inside, every one of us shares that very same desire to compete and to win at something and, in the competitive world that we live in, just about everyone loves, admires or respects a winner. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, competition is good for all of us.  It is a great motivator, providing each of us with a goal and inspiring us to always improve and to excel.  It also adds excitement and thrill for those who compete as well as for those who are just watching all of it on the sidelines.

Competition, however, does not always have to be against others.  For many non-competitive cyclists it can simply be a way of racing against yourself, in which you strive to surpass your previous accomplishments and where you seek to achieve new personal bests.

For these and other cyclists, getting better and finding success at it requires a tremendous amount of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.  Along with that, it also takes a willingness and stamina to stick with it even when there might be a temptation just to give up and to quit.

Cycling, especially over really long distances, can be extremely challenging, demanding and tough.  Not everyone can do it.  On these long rides, cyclists can sometimes experience a lot of soreness, discomfort and pain.  It can be particularly brutal when it is oppressively hot and suffocating like a typical summer day in Memphis often is or when you encounter a strong headwind or come across hills that have an incline that seem go on forever. 

Ultimately, like in many other sports, cycling can be a real test of endurance, requiring a higher threshold and tolerance for pain.  As grueling and as tough as it might sometimes be, though, the most passionate and competitive of cyclists learn to gut it out and not to let this get the best of them.  Quitting, for them, is never really an option.  They would undoubtedly agree with Lance Armstrong when he once said that, "pain is temporary.... quitting lasts forever" and with the legendary NFL coach, Vince Lombardi, who said that "quitters never win and winners never quit."

It is through dogged determination and perseverance that competitive and long distance cyclists are able to overcome the many challenges that they face and are able to conquer almost any adversity that they encounter.  This is not to say that they do not experience setbacks or defeats along the way, but it is how they respond to failure that distinguishes them from everyone else.

All true champions fully understand what ABC's Wide World of Sports famously described as "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."  Triumphs do not come without a combination of both of these and in some ways, success sometimes only comes through defeat.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, defeat can sometimes become the motivation to bring about or to give rise to victories that otherwise would not have been possible.  No victory is more sweet than one that comes from the ashes of failure and disappointment.

Whether it is in a competitive race or not, there is always a sense of accomplishment or, at the very least, a feeling of satisfaction and relief whenever you finally cross any finish line.  It is the culmination and the validation of all the time that is spent preparing and training for it. 

You can only get to that point by staying the course, by not giving up or quitting, and by finding motivation or inspiration that comes from competition.  From all of this, better cyclists invariably come and world cycling champions like André Greipel are made.

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