Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fresh Eyes...

This post was originally posted for Conquista Cycling Club & can be found here

This season marks my fifth year racing with Team Novo Nordisk and it began in the usual fashion with a training camp in Altea, located in the south of Spain.

At this time of year, cycling teams overrun the area with everyone looking to escape the cold and train somewhere with relative warmth. As you ride around, numerous teams and team vehicles go by and the climbs are swarmed with riders going up and down completing their prescribed efforts.

However, this year the weather was exceptionally bad. Nearly every day, there were severe storms and snow even fell for the first time since ~1982 (yet this fact was difficult to verify because everyone seemed to have different dates). Due to the extreme weather, most training sessions were limited to the trainer or bundled up and heading outside in the poor conditions. When we ventured outside, we stuck to the lower elevations. On social media, riders from various teams were posting pictures of indoor training sessions during the 'tRAINING camp'.

In addition to coming together to get in some solid training, camp gave us the opportunity to meet the new riders. This year, Team Novo Nordisk has six new pro riders, most who moved up from our development team. It was interesting to see their initial reactions and interactions with the rest of the team. 

When the weather turned sour, it was these neo-pros who don't say much and simply got on with their jobs. This was compared to the older guys, including myself, who were the first ones to complain. The new riders were the first ones out to the truck before a ride, while us veterans took our time and most likely held things up.

The neo-pros didn’t complain about weigh-ins nor skin fold tests. They didn’t complain about meetings. They didn’t complain about eating pasta for the eighth consecutive day. They didn’t complain about riding farther than planned. They didn’t complain about early morning anti-doping controls. They didn’t complain when the Spanish guys were on the front driving the pace up a climb.

Maybe this eagerness is because they are new and want to impress the rest of us, maybe they are just keeping quiet while they earn their place or maybe, just maybe, it is because a few of us have grown complacent because we’ve been doing the same thing year after year. We’ve grown complacent and are too quick to complain when things don't go to plan. 

At the end of last season, we had two stagiaire riders from the devo team race with the pros at a few late-season races. I immediately noticed there was an air of positivity and optimism around them. They were always excited to race, willing to push a little harder and seemed to have a bit more fight in them. This meant they refused to give in when racing got hard.

I find these new, positive riders refreshing. They serve as a breath of fresh air and a reminder of how excited and eager I was to line up for the first time next to the pros. These guys give 100 percent and fight for every inch.

Have I too readily accepted my limits rather than push them as far as I can? This past month, I remembered how good it is to have someone around to challenge me. It gives me motivation to train and race harder. Sometimes we all need a little kick….

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