Updated: Sep 10, 2019
When you spend so much time alone on the bike you have a lot of thinking time. Questions rattle through my head like, when will this hill end? Why is there always a teaspoon left in bowl after you finish washing up? Exactly who is it that finds Mrs Brown's Boys funny? What keeps people going on challenges like the one I'm doing? We all have a mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Most of us are partly motivated by the thought of approval or praise from friends or club members. I have a strong extrinsic motivator in the form of my wife and family. Having them say they are impressed or proud of me definitely keeps me going. Their words mean a huge amount to me because they are the most important people in my life. To find out my kids have told their friends about what I'm doing has given me a huge kick. Knowing Rachel will be there at the end of this ride means a lot. But I couldn't do this without strong internal motivation. No amount of approval from others will get me up a mountain like today. That determination needs to come from within. I am a big believer in pushing myself hard in training to ensure that when the time comes, I will be able to draw on this when it comes to the real thing. Hence while struggling up a mountain today I reminded myself of the miserable day I spent cycling from Swansea to Gloucester last month. In fact while on that ride I told myself if I can't get over the Brecon Brecons in the cold, I will never manage it in the Alps. One feeds the other.
The point is you can't expect to find something within you on the day if you never push yourself at any other time. This morning I kept going with the voice of a clubmate in my head telling me to get out of my comfort zone. And I did. Because I've done it before. If you want to go further, faster or higher you have to accept the need to do that over and over again. You will learn your own coping strategies in training. Whether that's finding a distraction or in the case of my wife, focusing on the pain (which frankly I don’t understand at all). Personally I sing out loud. Hard luck on the people of Switzerland who were treated to a medely of 80's hits all afternoon long.