The expulsion of 8 badminton players from the Olympics this week caused a bit of controversy in the sports world so I thought I’d look at it from a cycling perspective. My opinion and apparently the opinion of my sport is that strategy goes deeper than just an individual game or race. It’s like chess. It’s all about sacrificing at a lower level in order to achieve a greater victory.
While I was racing I did some crazy mental training. Hours upon hours of affirmations. Up Topanga Canyon, down Tuna, up Latigo, down Kanan Dune, up the PCH, up Mulholland, down Encinal and finally back through Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice and finishing on the Ballona Creek bike path into Culver City. All the time listening to tracks off The Ultimate Cyclist CD and repeating the affirmations to myself out loud and with conviction.
Last weekend at the team’s winter training camp, we hosted Wonderful Pistachios employees for a weekend of skills clinics and training. It was an exciting weekend with some great riding and bonding and everyone left in high spirits, motivated to ride more and become better all around cyclists. The problem with these camps is that in the weeks after it is over, a lot of the adrenaline and excitement wears off and the whole thing fades to a distant memory.
On Saturday night my wife and I went to the wedding of my long time friend and teammate Stuart Press. Stu and I started riding together back in ’98 when I first move out to LA on and he sat us at a table with our old friends, Marco Fantone, Aaron Gadhia and Matias Mendigochea, all from that original squad. We had been cat 4s 12 years ago when we started racing and this year, after Stu’s mid-season upgrade we had finally all achieved the rank of category 1.
One of the big buzzwords in psychology in recent years is the concept of “resilience,” the ability to be flexible and adjust to new situations on the sports field or in the game of life itself. That same resilience and flexibility applies to race strategy and both team and individual tactics within a race.
I learned a lot from the sport of cycling but the greatest lesson didn’t come until after I stopped racing last August. It was actually in the team van on the way back from the 2010 Tour of Utah that it happened. I gained something that had eluded me for my entire 23-year racing career - I gained perspective.
This weekend I watched a few minutes of the Triathlon World Championship Series on the Universal Sports Network. I sometimes like to watch these draft legal events because frankly they crack me up. It also makes me reflect on different skills and drills to improve bike handling for everyone who rides a bike.
Sprinters are a special breed, whether they’re track sprinters like Chris Hoy or road sprinters like Cavendish and Cippolini. Some feel that they’re born sprinters or not, and there is a bit of truth to that. However, sprinting is also important to train no matter what your natural racing style, because the truth is that most races end up in small or large groups dashing for the line. What are some ways to improve your sprint to increase your odds of podium placings?