Without your desire and determination to improve your cycling performances and achieve your riding goals, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions, are meaningless. To become the best cyclist you can be, you must be motivated to do the work necessary to maximize your ability.
Motivation, simply defined, is the ability to initiate and persist at a task. To ride your best, you must want to begin the process of developing as a cyclist and you must be willing to maintain your efforts until you have achieved your goals. Motivation in cycling is so important because you must be willing to work hard in the face of fatigue, boredom, pain, difficult conditions, and the desire to do other things.
Motivation will impact everything that influences your cycling performance: physical conditioning, technical and tactical training, mental preparation, and general lifestyle including sleep, diet, school or work, and relationships.
Control What You Can Control
There are three things that affect how well you ride. First, your innate ability, which includes your physical, technical, tactical, and mental capabilities. Because ability is something you are born with, you can't change your ability so it is outside of your control.
Second, the difficulty of the race influences performance. Contributors to difficulty include the strength of the race field (think Tour de France) and external factors such the terrain (think Alpe d'Huez) , course conditions (think Paris-Roubaix) and weather such as temperature, wind, and precipitation (think Tour of California). You have no control over these factors.
Finally, motivation will impact performance. It is also the only factor over which you have control. Motivation will directly impact the level of success that you ultimately achieve. If you are highly motivated to improve your performances, then you will put in the time and effort necessary to raise the level of your riding.
Motivation will also influence your riding when you start a race. If you're competing against others of nearly equal fitness and skill, it will not be ability that will determine the outcome of the race. Rather, it will be the cyclist who works the hardest, endures pain best, who doesn't give up, and who rides their best when it counts. In other words, the cyclist who is most motivated to win.
Signs of Low Motivation
Motivation isn't just a feeling you have, but rather it is expressed in all aspects of your training and life. There are several signs of low motivation:
- A lack of desire to train as much as you should;
- Less than 100% effort in training;
- Skipping or shortening training;
- Unprepared equipment;
- Not living a supportive lifestyle (e.g., eating poorly, not getting enough sleep);
- Effort that is inconsistent with your goals.