I will start this article not with one, but with 2 quotes from Usain Bolt.
“The work is behind the scenes, competition is the easy part. Behind the scene is where the work is done”
The second quote from the fastest man in history is:
“Dreams are free, goals have a cost. Goals don’t come without a price. Time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat.”
I choose to start in this way because the main idea of this article will be around two things. 1. The work behind the scene, and second, the price that needs to be paid to succeed.
Before I get into the lesson, let me say that I enjoy every moment of being part of this race. The adrenaline level was so high that before I knew it, 5 minutes after the start, I was riding my bike at 46-47 km/h on the flat for a few minutes, and that was insane because I only had 1000 km in my legs this year, at least 5 to 7 times less than the average cyclist in the peloton.
I did a few training sessions in the past with some guys who were on the front line, in fact when I was there I remembered that in one session with these guys I did 55 km/h for almost 1 km and they left me behind. Now I was glad I didn’t care about the time and would just enjoy the race and the view. Was so good to be back in the wolf pack.
The race started very hard and fast, as I mentioned some details about my speed above, but in the first 5km, we had two crashes in the peloton and avoided at least 2 more. Because everyone wants to prove and stay with the first group, and the first group, the pros, want to leave as many behind as possible. Here is the first lesson, keep your ego under your pants, make your own strategy don’t go after others because you don’t know what they did in their training.
As Usain Bolt said, the work is done before the race and behind the scenes. You can have the same equipment, the same fancy wheels and bike, but you don’t have the same number of hours and kilometers of training. You don’t have the same nutrition and recovery sessions, and here I will give some examples:
- The Winner, Piciu Mattew-Denis, U23 rider for Mentorise Elite Team CFX, has 21 pro cycling races this year, and more than 17 000 km. An average of 110km per day, every day of this year. He finishes the 133 km in 3h 11min and 40s.
- 47th at general and 2nd place for age 20-29 amateurs, the best position for a cyclist from Velocitas club( the top guys from my area), Muntean Paul has 7 577 km. An average of 49km per day. He finishes the race in 3h 25 min and 41s
- the 176th place, Mouyrin Jc, the best guy from my club (beyond the limits) has almost 5 000km, an average of 32 km every day, finish in 4h 20min and 43s.
And if you took all the riders from the race, I bet that you won’t find 3 guys that have less than 2 000 km in training. I searched it more than 20 riders from the top 150 and all have more than 4 000 km in training this year.
So, coming back to the lesson, when you have only 1 025 km, so less than 5 times as everyone and 17 times less than the winner, you should keep your ego in your pants because other way you will collapse after the first 10km or after the first climb.
Yeah, you can say that was not a smart move from my side to compete with these guys, but let me tell you something, and this is to come to the second lesson and again, Usain Bolt said better than me: dreams are free, goals have a cost, goals don’t come without a price… remember this!
When you’re an amateur, don’t let the price take away your dreams. When the cost is high, you have to be smarter than others and find the most efficient way to achieve your goals. An expensive pair of wheels that can give you 1 km/h more speed and 1 000 euros less in your bank account can be exchanged and you can get the same 1 km/h more if you lose 2-3 kg of weight.
Let me give you another example. When you don’t have time to spend 2h/day in cycling sessions + 1 day on the weekend (because time is money, or it’s family time, remember that!), but you have maybe 1h twice a week, make sure the 1h session structure has a plan and that you will give everything for that session. 1h of a hard session is 5 times more efficient than 10 hours without a plan!
Maybe I was not in the best shape for this race, but I was the most efficient ever because the others weren’t 5 times faster than me, or the winner 17 times, in fact the winner was only 34% faster than me but invested 1 700% more time, energy and recovery sessions. Another example from my buddy from the club, who arrived 17 min before me and was 9% faster but invested 500% more resources.
Now, the raw data in the apps can be adjusted, you can fake it if you want in training, you can take advantage of weather and wind conditions at any time, and you can use a car or motorcycle in front of you and increase your speed on some segments, but in any sport, and especially in cycling, you can not fake it anymore during the race.
Everyone gets up at 5 am, everyone starts at 8 am and everyone is riding in the same conditions, and the moment of truth is when you cross the finish line. (Here with the presumption that cyclists don’t take doping drugs). You can have a dream bike, but in the race, it only matters what you did behind the scenes and at what cost.
There is no coincidence that I finished a professional amateur race with only 1 000 km, or that I finished an ultramarathon with only 300km in training, or that I got after covid from 0 to 42km in only 6 weeks. I’ve learned more over the years about efficiency and how I can handle sessions and racing in the smartest way possible.
Finally, I would like to thank you for all the support and kind words from the Stakeborg community and I hope, as eugenPtr said on a discord channel, that my articles, races, my experience as an amateur sport will help each of you with inspiration and motivation for the things you do in your everyday life. Some of these lessons can also be applied in web 3 and DAO, it’s up to us what kind of rider we want to become.