Some mind games you can play out on the road

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Steve Thomas

Psych­ing out oth­ers to gain ad­van­tage on the road

You can use your mind to con­trol and ma­nip­u­late cer­tain sit­u­a­tions when you’re out on the roads. That all might sound like Jedi mind tricks, but psy­cho­log­i­cal tools can com­ple­ment, or bol­ster, your phys­i­cal abil­i­ties. Here are some strate­gies you can use dur­ing races or fi­esty group rides.

Be sub­tle

We all know at least one or two shouters within our cy­cling cir­cles: rid­ers who im­pose their will upon oth­ers on a ride. Of­ten, these rid­ers just stop short of be­ing bul­lies who do on oc­ca­sion gain re­sults by forc­ing oth­ers to take turns. But, it’s not re­ally a wise or sweet way to go about things. Turn off these types and don’t be bul­lied. In­stead, be sub­tle and mea­sured with how you play sit­u­a­tions. Sub­tlety is far more pow­er­ful and can have much longer last­ing re­sults. Slow down, think about it and do the Cana­dian thing: be a soft power.

Manag­ing climbs no mat­ter your strength

Climbs are of­ten seen as places where you can’t hide, and to an ex­tent, that’s true – al­though there are many ways to lessen the blows. In a group or a one-on-one sit­u­a­tion in which you’re the weaker rider, try ask­ing a through­out-pro­vok­ing ques­tion that re­quires an in-depth an­swer. Ask just be­fore things get se­ri­ous. If the rider or rid­ers take the bait, the chat­ter can dif­fuse any ten­sion be­fore a climb.

Over the top of a climb, rid­ers usu­ally ease off. Keep some gas in the tank and ride a lit­tle af­ter you crest; it’s a morale killer. Even if it hurts you, it’s huge. If you hap­pen to drop oth­ers on the climb, cir­cling in the road at the top is the ul­ti­mate knock­out blow.

The pain mask

Usu­ally, it doesn’t pay to show that you’re suf­fer­ing. As soon as other rid­ers re­al­ize you’re flag­ging, they will get a huge men­tal boost. Your fa­cial ex­pres­sion is your first tell. Gri­mace as much as you like when you’re out of sight, but don’t let oth­ers see your pain. Mask it, ei­ther with a grin or a wink. Your “white flags of suf­fer­ing” don’t stop at the face. Any ex­pe­ri­enced rider will see them com­ing be­fore they even show fully. Your whole body pos­ture changes as you de­cline: bob­bing around, fum­bling, chang­ing gears too of­ten, get­ting out of the sad­dle to stretch more of­ten and even check­ing de­vices. Fo­cus on keep­ing your com­po­sure to mask your fa­tigue. Not only will this bluff help cover your pain, it will also help you feel bet­ter. The same goes with eat­ing and drink­ing. Fuel out of sight if you can. You will ap­pear much stronger in the eyes of the other rid­ers around you. There are oc­ca­sions when you may want to look as if you’re suf­fer­ing. Then, you can turn on the power. This move is some­thing you can only do once. So, make it count.

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