The Importance of Preparation
“One definition of success is when preparation meets opportunity,” is what my soon-to-be father-in-law told me one day after I was feeling a bit down since I hadn’t yet landed a job despite going on five interviews. It made me remember that preparation is key in everything we do. How we reach our goals is by preparing for that moment.
In sports, we practice hard so that we’ll be in tip top shape for our event. When my family and I would go on ski trips we always upped our cardiovascular training for a month prior, and also upped our fluid—water—intake. This helped improve our red blood cell counts and kept us well hydrated and was preparing us for the drier, high altitude climate of the Rocky Mountains.
This week marks the third annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge—a professional bike race that goes through the state of Colorado. It’s an intense race that tests the best cyclists in the world against each other, but more importantly the mountains of Colorado.
In yesterday’s opening stage—a 61 mile circuit through Aspen and Snowmass—I watched as a young rider for Team Sky, the top ranked cycling team in the world, got a nose bleed and had to drift back to his team physician. I listened as the announcers remarked at how team Sky had just arrived a few days before in Colorado and how they must not be used to the altitude yet. (A nose bleed is one symptom of high altitude.) Even Team Sky’s leader and Tour de France winner, Chris Frume, looked fatigued.
On the other hand, there were those cyclists who looked strong and prepared. Last year’s runner-up, BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen, rode strong and came in fifth. This puts him in a good overall position to attack and put pressure on the rest of the field as he looks for victory in his home state. But the most prepared cyclist yesterday was none other than the second ranked rider in the International rankings, Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling.
In order to prepare for the USAPCC, Sagan went to Colorado two weeks before hand and trained. He didn’t race in any other races, just trained and got used to the altitude. Yesterday his team rode at the front and set the pace all day until RadioShack and BMC took over late in the day. Sagan tried surging ahead near the end but was caught by BMC. It looked as though the young Slovak may not be able to pull off a win, but in the last few kilometers he latched onto the wheel of a BMC sprinter and whipped around him to easily take the victory.
Sagan notched his 15th victory of the cycling season. He captured the Smash Burgers [yellow] Leaders Jersey, the Colorado State University Best Young Rider’s Jersey, and the CLIF Bar Sprint [green] Leader Jersey. Sagan was the winner of the Green Sprinter’s Jersey at the Tour de France.
While it’s highly unlikely that Sagan will keep the yellow jersey—he’s more of a sprinter than a climber—there was no doubt that yesterday he was the strongest. But that’s no accident. He was the strongest and took the victory because he was the best prepared.
So are you prepared to take on your goals and challenges head on? Remember that there’s no path of least resistance. There are no shortcuts. Be prepared and take it on.