Stay On The Attack
During yesterday’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 3, a group of five cyclists broke away from the main group of riders—known as the peloton. Among the break away group was a 41 (soon to be 42) year old German named Jens Voit. Voit is known in the cycling world for his aggression and complete lack of fear of going on a solo ride. This has both won and lost him races. This aggression has given him the designation as one of “cycling’s hard boys.”
With 51 kilometers (about 31 miles) left to go in the stage, Voit surged ahead and separated himself from the break away cyclists. Now Voit was completely alone riding over the mountains of Colorado with a five minute gap on the peloton. As I watched I knew the chances of Voit making it to the finish line ahead of 120 cyclists was highly unlikely. But a large part of me admired him for his courage. I listened to the announcers talk about Voit’s pure strength and cycling ability. I’d watched Jens Voit solo ride into Beaver Creek, Colorado, just the previous year to win a stage of the 2012 USAPCC. And Voit had accomplished the same feit early this year in the Tour of California.
Cycling’s an interesting sport. Break away cyclists are sometimes seen as amusingly courageous. This is because a group of cyclists working together is much faster than one or two cyclists. It has to do with power and the amount of air that one cyclist can move vs the power and amount of air a group (like the peloton) can move. So one solo cyclist charging out on his own is much like the lone soldier who tries to take on an army. He might succeed, but he’s going to have to work a lot harder to do so.
Voit soloed for about 30 miles and it looked like he might pull off yet another Herculean effort and win a solo break away. But with 1.5 miles to go to the finishing line, the power of the peloton swept him up and Peter Sagan won yet another thrilling sprint to the line.
There are a variety of lessons that we can learn from Jens Voit. But I’ll just focus on one of them for now. Confidence in yourself to go, and stay, on the attack.
If Jens Voit had been hesitant or unsure of himself, he would’ve been caught long before the 1.5 mile mark to go. He would’ve been swept up and swallowed by the peloton. But he wasn’t. He charged ahead with four other riders after just seven miles. And then he surged ahead when those four started to falter. He was confident in his abilities. He knew there was a chance he was going to get caught. But he also knew there was a chance he’d make it all the way. He wasn’t afraid of failure.
Quite often these fears hold us back. What will others think? What will happen if I fail? I’ll be crushed if I don’t succeed. It’s hopeless even trying. I’m susceptible to these fears as much as the next man. But when these fears start to come over me I’ll think of Jens Voit and maybe that’ll give me the confidence to break away from the pack. I can dig deep and have the strength to stay on the attack.
Don’t be afraid of failure. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. That will help you on your road to success.