Accepting your limitations
There comes a time when you realise you're just no good at........
Has anyone else ever had one of these revelations about their cycling? One of those moments you'll be able to look back on with a clear recollection? Well I had such a moment recently and I'm better for it. Read on.
I can't climb. I'm just no good at. Sure I've cycled up Mt. Hotham twice but I had to stop lots of times and it nearly killed me. And I've been up Kinglake a few times and Mt. Dandenong heaps but never quickly. One day I may break 20 minutes for the 1:20 but I'm never going to win a King of the Mountain. For someone who likes to consider themselves a competitive cyclist that's rather disheartenning. Put a hill, any hill, in a race and I'm out the back and out of the race.
I've tried. I've really tried, but my improvements have been marginal. I've lost 10 kg since I started cycling. I've had a whole training program to get me faster up hills but gravity just doesn't like me. Yes I'm much better at it than when I started but I'm still slower than almost every other cyclist I know.
So it's against this background that I had my "moment" recently. It was a Sunday morning and Robert, my cycling buddy, and I were cycling through the hills of Eltham on the way to St. Andrews. I hate Robert. He's one of those guys that never trains, eats everything he wants and flys up hills. He doesn't race but he should. You know the sorta guy? Well I'm used to Robert dropping me on every hill and have developed a thick skin about it. I can now beat him in a sprint and I get my revenge that way.
But on this particular Sunday morning I was slower than usual. I'd had a big day at the track the afternoon before and I just wanted to tootle. In fact tootling was all I could do. Rob wanted to burn so I sent him on his way. Soon after as I'm struggling up one of the hills I get passed by another cyclist. No, not a lean, mean climbing machine but a GIRL on a hybrid. This girl was no ballet dancer either. She was bigger than I and I bet she was heavier too. She just cruised past me. No nod. No "Good Morning". No acknowledgment of my existance. I was not worthy.
It was at this point that I had my "moment". I could have yelled out " Yeah but I was racing yesterday lady what were you doing" but I didn't. Instead I just finally accepted that I can't climb, probably never will and I shouldn't get down about it. It doesn't mean I'm not a good cyclist. It means we all have strengths and weaknesses and maybe we shouldn't get hung up on what we can't do but focus on what we can do well.
We all have room for improvement in our cycling. No one reading this is a perfect cyclist. But if you're an old cynical grumpy bastard like me, its sometimes very easy to only look at the negative aspects rather than the things you enjoy and the aspects of your cycling in which you excel.
This represents a dilemma for the coach of course. He or she needs to juggle your requirements. How much time and effort do you put into improving your weaknesses versus developing your strengths even further? I don't have the answer - I'm not a coach - but I suspect the answer will be different for everyone. In my case and with time running out (I'm 43) I think I'll be spending more time on the velodrome than Mt. Dandenong. I won't avoid hills ( but I will avoid hilly races) and I will continue to try to improve my climbing. But the velodrome is flat and I'm having a ball on it right now.
So the next time you pass me on a hill, well, I really don't give a damn!