Spor­tif Stieda

Cy­cle of Ad­ver­sity

Pedal Magazine - - Uci Mtb World Cup 2017 - BY ALEX STIEDA

Many of us have faced ad­ver­sity in our lives… if you’ve rid­den your bike for any length of time you are sure to have gone through some tough times, be it an in­jury from over­train­ing, a crash or sim­ply burnout. Of course, there are many other sources of ad­ver­sity in our lives from per­sonal health to fam­ily, ca­reer and friends.

The dic­tionary de­fines “ad­ver­sity” as “dif­fi­cul­ties; mis­for­tune.” In­ter­est­ingly, the Latin ori­gin of ad­ver­sity is de­fined as “to turn to­ward”. In other words, it was rec­og­nized you need to face your prob­lems head on. Ad­ver­sity also causes high stress lev­els which stim­u­late the ner­vous sys­tem and adrenal glands. Many times, we may re­act to ad­ver­sity in ways that we had never con­sid­ered. How­ever, I be­lieve that the key from suf­fer­ing an ad­ver­sity in your life is to learn from th­ese dif­fi­cult times to help you be­come a bet­ter ath­lete and per­son – what I call the ‘cy­cle of ad­ver­sity’.

Over my cy­cling ca­reer as well as my per­sonal life, I have been faced with many chal­lenges and dif­fi­cult times. I be­lieve that rac­ing my bike has taught me a lot about how to deal with th­ese stres­sors and I hope that I can share some of those lessons with you here.

As a full-time bike racer, we raced on av­er­age 100 race days a year. I of­ten say that if I read a race cor­rectly, I could put my­self in a win­ning po­si­tion about 20% of the time. Of those races, I was able to win about five of them… That’s a 95% loss rate, which can be stress­ful in it­self when your job is to win races. In this case, it was im­por­tant to step back and look at the big picture and re­al­ize that if each of my 15 team­mates won five races, we would be win­ning over 50% of the races we en­tered. Those feel­ings of loss can be re­placed with in­ner pride of hav­ing con­trib­uted to the team as a whole.

The more races you en­ter, the more chance there is of crash­ing. It’s just a fact. As a ju­nior cy­clist, I was stick­ing my nose into places that I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have, such as try­ing to ‘slam’ and pass on the in­side of a cor­ner dur­ing a cri­terium or try­ing to pass through an im­pos­si­ble gap dur­ing a sprint. Con­se­quently, I did crash a lot in my younger years. The easy way out was to put the blame on the other rid­ers but I was able to be ret­ro­spec­tive and re­al­ize that I needed to change how I ap­proached th­ese sit­u­a­tions to try and avoid fu­ture con­flicts. Some race sit­u­a­tions are truly be­yond con­trol, but for the most part, chang­ing the way I raced started to help me be a bet­ter and safer bike rider. For ex­am­ple, I be­gan to ‘read’ the other rid­ers and un­der­stand who was safe to ride be­hind. I rode closer to the front of the group where the bet­ter rid­ers were al­ways po­si­tioned. The back of the pack was where the dan­ger­ous rid­ing was, and mak­ing the ex­tra ef­fort to ride up front gave me the added bonus of putting me in a win­ning po­si­tion.

I’ve also had my share of ad­ver­sity per­son­ally. Mak­ing the tran­si­tion from a full-time pro­fes­sional ath­lete to a busi­ness per­son was prob­a­bly one of the hard­est things I’ve had to do. No one re­ally pre­pares for this rad­i­cal change in life­style and it was cer­tainly a shock to stop rid­ing ev­ery day and start sell­ing bi­cy­cles the next. Again, I was able to look in­wardly and rely on the lessons I’d learned from rac­ing and train­ing. I broke the nec­es­sary skills down into man­age­able chunks, so that I didn’t feel over­whelmed. I learned so­lu­tion sales skills, and

CRM soft­ware and spread­sheets be­came sec­ond na­ture! In ret­ro­spect, be­ing forced into the nec­es­sary changes broad­ened my world view and I’ve been able to ap­ply my ath­letic ex­pe­ri­ence to the busi­ness world.

Ev­ery­one has ex­pe­ri­ences that they can draw upon as they move for­ward through life’s ever-chang­ing and evolv­ing chal­lenges. The key for me has al­ways been to re­flect and bring for­ward lessons that I’ve learned in the past that I can ap­ply to cur­rent sit­u­a­tions.

It’s a full life cy­cle of fac­ing ad­ver­sity head on, break­ing down the chal­lenges and some­times mak­ing mis­takes as you work to­wards over­com­ing things and, hope­fully, learn­ing and im­prov­ing your­self over time. Turn the cy­cle of ad­ver­sity into your se­cret ad­van­tage.

Rookie crash on the Gal­i­bier in France in 1986.

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