Dropping out in races..how to stop doing it

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Nicko71, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    I've got into a bit of a habit of dropping out in big races. I race well quite often, but sometimes I just seem to lose concentration or something.

    Something might tick me off during a race, ie someone backing me off, or something that goes against me, and I seem to all of a sudden think - stuff it I've had enough. This happens even when I know my legs can do it. For some reason my mind just gives up.

    How do other people remain focsued in races, and shut down those urges to stop?

    I was gutted today, I did what was a pretty lame pull out!!

    It was especially annoying because the bunch really slowed only minutes after I pulled out.

    How can I make my legs over-ride the power of my mind??

    :confused:
     
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  2. ccorrick

    ccorrick New Member

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    Heck!!!! this is easy!!! Just don't stop pedaling!!! man, bring on more like this!

    Seriously it's just mind over matter. Just don't stop and you're all better. If you drop off and know without a doubt you are not going to catch up, why not just enjoy the ride and finish? Guess everyone works differently, but I have a hard time even understanding your delima.

    Have fun and ride lots!

    C-
     
  3. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    When I first started riding multi-stage races, I was a mediocre rider but still managed to get fairly high placings because of attrition. Better riders than me would get pissed off about something and pull out after a few stages. Bingo - I just moved up a place without any extra effort.
    I used to race with a mate who'd ridden a few seasons in Europe and he taught me to always hang in to the end regardless of how crappily your going - even if everyone's packed up and gone home by the time you get there.
    If your mind is telling you to pull out, remember what you'll be thinking if you end up watching the finish from the sidelines.
    Whatever you're going through at the time, it's only temporary. Just keep spinning the cranks until it goes away. Since I don't race against you, don't make things too easy for the lower-placed riders.
     
  4. SLS

    SLS New Member

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    A few quick ideas - turn that anger into motive to finish & stomp said individuals in the ground at the finish line. Maybe you need to get angry at yourself for not wanting to finish something you started. Turn the race into a training ride. Maybe pretend your vehicle is only at the finish line & you have to make it there or it is a long walk.

    Wake up every day, promising yourself you are going to improve at least one thing & that you won't quit something you started. Put those two simple goals in writing. Now if you are injured or it would be detrimental to you to keep going - then pull out. To improve doesn't just mean in cycling, but also personally, professionally, spiritually, etc...

    This may help you gain back the mental edge, and kick the bad habit of quitting. Good luck
     
  5. Hitchy

    Hitchy New Member

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    G'day,

    I have struggled mentally in races before as well. Try using some 'mental' preparation before the race. I know guys that will stick some masking tape to the headstem with 'key' words or phrases written on them, that they use to stay calm, or motivated or even stay 'angry',(you choose what works for you ),that they refer to 'when the going gets tough' in the race.

    Personally, I like a quote from' Lance' in his 2nd book. "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever".......Good luck with it,

    cheers,

    Hitchy
     
  6. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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    i would say you just have to have a will to win, if you have that you wont quit. im very competitive and when i get attacked i attack back and think your not gonna drop me ive trained to hard! there have been times when i thought i didnt have anything left then when an attack comes you dont remember how you feel. riding fast group rides simulating a race works just as good.



    Many articles on bike training focus on the physical side of the sport. Riders of all levels seek workouts that will produce a stronger and more fit bike racer.

    Although it is very important to work on the physical side of the sport, I maintain that the mental side of the sport is equally critical. Unfortunately, most riders work on the mental components of cycling much less than the physical requirements.

    The mental aspect of cycling can be divided into two categories: tactics and desire.

    Take two riders with about the same level of fitness (i.e. they race in the same category). There are still several ways they can differ: One might be a great athlete. He or she might have great genetic potential and be close to maximizing their physical skills attained through a well-rounded physical training program.

    But perhaps he or she is not a great competitor. They have a lot of strength, but attain no results. Rare individuals (Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond are two examples) can be both superior competitors and superior athletes.

    From my experience, a great competitor will usually beat a great athlete even when the great competitor is not as fit as the great athlete. As a result, improving cyclists want to spend time working on maximizing their physical potential and more importantly, learning how to become better competitors.

    How can you get there? I know great athletes who never succeeded in bike racing. I know great competitors with limited physical gifts who were consistent winners.

    They've succeeded by competing to win -- but it's easier said than done.

    Perhaps the best example of a successful competitor is former 7-Eleven rider, Hall of Fame member and my good friend, Harvey Nitz. He was successful because whenever it seemed like he was "down and out" he found a way to win.

    Nitz self-admittedly didn't have the greatest talent. But he had an overwhelming desire to win bike races. Nitz not only "lived and breathed" tactics, he focused on how to get the most out of his "limited" abilities.

    Nitz's desire to win gave him the capacity to think clearly, and he did everything within the rules of the sport to cross the line first. Nitz once told he won only two races in which he didn't suffer mercilessly.

    His work ethic exemplified the notion that winning can become a habit, just like losing.

    Can the ability to win be learned or are you "born with it"? There's no easy answer. But I think the first thing to do is examine your goals in the sport. Learning to compete is something that needs to be a focus in races and training.

    Many bike racers line up at the start of a race, yet they don't mentally give themselves a chance to win. They either don't expect to win or they tell themselves in advance it doesn't matter what happens in the race. However, if you want to win, it does matter why you're at the race. I think it's important to discuss the issue with friends and family or your coach.

    Also helpful is to find opportunities to compete among competitive riders. Do not listen to negative riders. They'll tell you where you are most likely to fail during a race, how unsafe a race can be, and they'll blame other riders for their lack of success.

    Instead, talk to the winners and observe how they succeed. You will find their focus is centered on success. If things don't go according to plan, they'll make corrections, move on and begin to focus on the next race.

    Great competitors aren't just focused on a race day, either. Most of how they train and how they approach and respect the sport is focused on success. They know it's not one thing that makes a difference. Rather, it's a lot of the little things.

    What can you do about improving your chances of winning on race day?

    The first step is to race aggressively. Find a way to get motivated and maintain that energy. The next time you are at a race, take a look at how many riders are really aggressive and how many just are just there. Who do you think has a better opportunity to win? In short, when you are aggressive, good things happen.

    The second step is going to the start line with a plan, whether you are alone or part of a team. Know with whom you're racing with and against. Study the course in advance. Try to develop a strategy of attack. These and other tactics can greatly improve your chances of winning. Bike racing is just that: racing.

    The goal is to cross the line first or have a teammate win. It's better to go fail trying than to finish knowing you had more physically and mentally to give.

    A great competitor will be spent at the end of a race, and they will know they gave their all. Find a way to give your all, and you can win, too.
     
  7. MidBunchLurker

    MidBunchLurker New Member

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    zaskar, awesome response - you're 100% spot-on.
     
  8. cycleboy

    cycleboy Guest

    First, I would suggest that you temporarily stop entering these 'big races'. The more you quit the harder it will be to stop quitting. You are 'training' yourself to quit under certain conditions. Just ride the races where you know you will finish.

    Second, I would try to find a local sports psychologist and setup a therapy session. (Sometimes even a very experienced cycling coach can help.) This person can help you identify what is making this happen. They can also give you mental exercises to help you overcome the urge to quit.

    Good luck
     
  9. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    The above quote from zaskar typifies my current attidtude. Because I am still a relatively new rider, I often underrate myself which is part of the problem.

    The races where I rate myself as a chance I often do well, but some races I am resigned to hopefully hanging on if I can.

    I think I need to aim high, and obviously fight like mad to get there. The only thing is, even the best riders (like Lance) don't fight like mad all the time. They choose their moments, but when they make that choice it really counts.

    thanks for your replies.
     
  10. GuyStevens

    GuyStevens New Member

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    Experience has taught me an invaluable lesson: a bad patch in a race is often temporary. I have been hanging onto wheels in the early stages, only to be competing for a high position at the end.

    The pace of a race can often be erratic. If you are having a hard time, tell yourself the pace will slow at some point and you will be able to recover. Try and stick it out to the finish - you may be surprised how well you are going at the end.
     
  11. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    Added to my learning today. Raced with a group in which I have above average fitness and ability. But rode extremely conservatively. ie sat on the back.

    I noticed just how fresh I was by the end compared to usual.

    I think in big races I have possibly been racing over aggressively. I think I've just been overcooking myself beyond my ability. I think good crit racing is about finding a zone that works, and knowing when you are about to exceed that zone. (plus some of that lack of will, I talked about before). Looking forward to some longer races to test my theory and find the balance.
     
  12. SLS

    SLS New Member

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    Congrats & keep at it. Good luck
     
  13. wardie2000

    wardie2000 New Member

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    zaskar, brilliant response.

    i have a big race in the UK on sunday against some of the big names in this country(ones you read about!)

    i was trying to work out what i could do to get a good finish, i am only 20 so i have a long time to go both mentally and physically.
    i shall read your post sunday morning, before the race and that will be my motivational speech. it got me ready to go just sitting here in my room, so it will hopefully do the same on sunday. as long as i know that i gave my all i shall be happy.

    Thanks again,

    Chris
     
  14. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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    Good luck, let us know how you finish.
     
  15. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    I was just reading an article about Australia's greatest bike rider, Russell Mockridge. Something he said may help you to keep focused - "Before you can learn to win a race you have to learn to finish it".
    Even if you end up coasting to the end after everyone has gone home, you have ridden better than someone who was in first place for 80% of the race and then gave up.

    Eoin
     
  16. JAPANic

    JAPANic New Member

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    A few thoughts from a beginner...

    I've been in 5 races now, and got dropped in 3 of them.
    The 3 I got dropped in, were the ones that I didn't warm up in properly.

    1)
    It is very hard to stick with a surging peloton if you're not warmed up.

    2)
    Knowing the course inside out helps too. Knowing where you get tired, and resting as best as possible before hitting the hard bits. ie. drafting as much as possible before the tough sections and then drafting some more.

    3)
    Finding somebody to follow who rides like you do to follow. Same leg spin speed, body build (bigger if possible). Keeping your eye on other riders in the pack who you can leap frog with.

    4)
    The race is won in the last second. Save every ounce of energy till you are the 1st person to cross the line.

    The laziest person can win a race....
     
  17. wilier girl

    wilier girl New Member

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    Great reply EoinC. I will remember that when my legs are screaming, the bunch has long gone and I want to stop. Quitters are not winners. Just crossing that line sometimes IS winning
     
  18. Gonzo21

    Gonzo21 New Member

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    Ahh, so that would explain the woman in a bikini on Cipo's stem; I always wondered about that!

    If you want to train yourslef then those days when the end of a training ride is going really badly (headwinds, bonked, large climb ahead) is the closest you will get. Just keep on pulling in the right HR zones on them and you will learn to override your 'I can't be arsed anymore' attitude!

    The current training that I am doing to improve my pain threshold is to find the biggest, nastiest hill around (11% for a mile here in Bath), stand up and chase busses up the hill. It hurts like hell, but the fact that the bus stops 3-4 times up the hill (and it is usually containing several very nice looking uni girls!) begins to make me forget the pain.

    Oh and one last point, If things are going badly I try to visualise the car behind me (or spectators or a circuit) as being talent scouts. They don't care ow badly you are feeling, if you aren't performing then they lose interest in you.

    So far, most of this lot has worked for me, unfortunately I think I may have cracked my frame from powering up that hill repeatedly:p
     
  19. Blackie

    Blackie New Member

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    All great replies and an important subject. Particularly agree with EoinC.

    I raced today in a crit; like a prat only warmed up for 5min and so found myself blown out after 10min of racing into savage winds with legs completely full of lactic acid. Quit. Very angry with myself-had been placing earlier in bunch sprints. So...warmed up for an hour and rode the next race, a tougher race which included elites. Couldn't hold the pace for long, but used it as a good training session - am focussing on a stage race in a few weeks. Stronger rides than me quit. Morale of the story..., guess you got to respect yourself and do your best.
     
  20. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    You're on track there, Blackie. Stage races offer more chances for attrition (and more chances of recovery). If you stay until the end, you WILL see stronger riders pull out along the way. Without being a rocket, you can find yourself well up in the placings simply because other better-placed riders DNF'd (usually with some dummy-spitting and whines about how the whole world has conspired against them).
    In a stage race, you have the opportunity to recover from the times when you are down. If you get dropped, just start riding your own race. The next day you get to start again and a 50th place is a better starting point than watching the newly-elevated 50th place from the sidelines after a DNF.
    Later in life when you look back at the races you rode, the 50th place will be a happier memory than the DNF. A C-Grader getting last place finishes higher than an A-Grader who has pulled out.

    Remember to have fun.

    Eoin
     
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