Start at Banff
Everything else being equal the 4 key aspects, in order of importance for TDR racing are:
1) Physical condition
2) Bike/gear choices
3) Route knowledge/multi-day technique
4) Mental discipline
At the start I was in my own place, not paying much attention to the festivities...
My earlier post talked about how key the drivetrain choice is for optimizing one’s pace and speed across varied terrain. But many talk about the ‘mental’ aspect of the TDR. So I thought I would opine a bit about that.
It’s a long race. Many ‘fast’ racers seem to unable to achieve their full potential, was it because they weren’t mentally ‘tough’ enough? And then there are always some of these ‘fast’ racers that started off slowly but somewhere along the way get their personal TDR going and going and move up and up thru the pack. Oh and many mid-pack racers, and their family and friends, comment about how mentally tough the race was.
I might not explain this very well but in terms of mental characteristics ‘toughness’ is way down the list in terms of importance. Basically displaying mental toughness is what a racer does when thing go wrong. Sure it’s ‘hard’, duhh, that’s because something went wrong.
Ya, I got tough, had no choice, but it suckedAnd some talk about positive thoughts and other fluff. Fluff because if things are going well positive thoughts come naturally, But if things are going wrong positive thoughts are basically irrelevant, ie: just a semi self-lie that might ease the anguish but does nothing to solve issues. Staying on track and getting back on track takes physical actions not mental outlook. So if not toughness or positive outlook then what mental characteristic best drives consistent physical actions?
What is the absolute most important mental characteristic when things are going right or wrong??
Ha simple as free pie with a Salsa top cap, it’s all about mental “discipline”.
stole this pic from: http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/salsa-s-new-cutthroat-made-for-the-tour-divide.html
Its discipline that keeps you on track when your race is progressing as planned and its consistent discipline that gets you back into it when things go bad. The race clock does not respond to your mental outlook, positive, negative or indifferent or how tough you are but will respond to your consistent physical actions. So instead of being tough or artificially positive, when things are going bad the most effective response is to re-gain or better yet maintain your personal race discipline.
TDR race/mental discipline is very simple. It’s all about being disciplined or consistent in 4 basic areas:
1. Don’t over or under sleep
2. Don’t stop more than absolutely necessary
3. When stopped don’t waste time
4. When riding maintain appropriate pace
All else being equal, the self-discipline to consistently hit 4 of 4 will achieve the best finish time every time for every individual racer.
Beth Dunne, Josh Daugherty and Marshal Bird at the top of Marshal Pass.
This pic also stolen from:
I was schooled big time by Beth Dunne and Josh Daugherty in both efficiently re-supplying and maintaining pace. Josh was a driven man, fast at the stops and fast with his pacing. But Beth was absolutely textbook at all 4 elements of maintaining TDR discipline.
In my particular case, with some notable exceptions, I came close to hitting #1 each night; I did not over sleep (ha, not by much) , I did however under sleep one night and paid the price.
And I did so-so with #3. I could have been better at efficiently re-supplying but overall didn’t waste too much time during re-supply. I did however spend lots of extra time and stops icing my knees and Achilles. It had to be done but it destroyed my will to maintain my best pace.
Ice cold water in the basin, took to much time and that ate at me
But for me it was #4, where many days I completely lost the ability to maintain a consistent pace. Despite my poor drivetrain/gearing choice really it was more a lack of discipline at maintaining my best (appropriate for my personal circumstances) that ruined my chances at a true best personal time.
So why did I fail mentally, why was I not as disciplined as I wanted to be?
This is the look of lost motivation in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. Ya, I played the usual mental games to keep going but they are a poor substitute for the real thing, real driving motivation
Well this brings us to the second most important mental characteristic for a good TDR race, any guesses? No not toughness or positive outlook but again very basic and simple—motivation.
More to come on motivation
Note –for many positive thoughts equal motivation, for me also, but motivation can come in many forms: fear, anger, fame, glory, money, the need to dominate etc. My focus will be not on where it originates but rather the effect it has.