Canadian Cycling Magazine
Esteban Chaves on handling the rough times
“I don’t like that word, passion, because I’ve heard it a lot in the past couple of years, but you need it.”
Early in Esteban Chaves’s professional road career, he suffered an horrific crash at the 2013 Trofeo Laigueglia. The injuries kept him off the bike for close to a year. He then returned to brilliance. In 2016, the Colombian who rides for Mitchelton-scott was on the podium at both the Giro d’italia and Vuelta a España. In 2018, he contracted mononucleosis, which took him out of the competition calendar following that year’s Giro. With all the challenges that Chaves has faced, he’s gained some wisdom that can help you through trying times. Below are his words.
Never give up
“I think that the way I grew up – within my family – it showed me that you can never give up. You have to keep going. This was the example I had from my dad and mom.
We had rough moments, and we had to continue. There is no other way to deal with it. I did the same after the accidents and the other rough moments I’ve had.
Also, cycling is something I love. I’m proud of this and want to do a lot of things. The way to do it is to keep trying in all different situations.”
See the bigger picture
“Sometimes we’re chasing one dream, and we forget that we’re already living that dream, which can also give you strength.
It’s hard at the time, but when you put all of the pieces together and you see the general bigger picture, you understand that it’s a process.
If you just see the picture of the day and nothing else, you will feel like shit. If you look at all of the pieces and put it together, you can understand that it is just one day, and tomorrow will be another race and you will keep fighting. The next week. there will be another, and next month, another. You keep racing and trying. You will come back. You just need time, belief and passion. I don’t like that word, passion, because I’ve heard it a lot in the past couple of years, but you need it.”
Handling the bad days
“The mind has control of the body. With a virus, you feel something weird in the body, and the first thing you think on bad days is that this shit’s back.
Step by step, it’s disappearing from my body and from my mind. It disappeared when I won the stage in the Giro, and started to disappear when I finished the Vuelta.
Slowly and slowly things start to disappear from the mind and you start to get the confidence back again. It’s the same thing when you lose confidence; you don’t lose it in one day or one week. It happens over time. When you start to get good feelings, it comes back step by step, a similar process. You just need to be hard, and to get support from the people you love and who love you. I understand this now. You can’t do everything yourself. You need the support from the people who are really close to you.
Keep trying, and keep trying until the end. Belief – self-belief is important. These things are in your mind, which you know. You need to make a front and fight against them. It’s just not so easy to do.”
Re-evaluate and reset
“I arrived at one point when I didn’t want to ride the bike any more. I wanted to give up. We are humans, and this is part of life. I went back to Colombia to be with my friends and family and take care of myself. That was really important.
To start from zero is unbelievable. I run a foundation here for young kids and all the kids showed me support. It reminded me of when I was that age. They were dreamers. You could see in their eyes that anything is possible, and I took strength from that.
At one moment, especially i n cycling, you think that you can do everything for yourself – because you ride by yourself and win races by yourself – or more or less. You also think that you can do that in life, but you can’t. You need that support from the people who love you. That is what helped a lot with going back home. They helped me start from zero again. It’s a process, and nothing comes in one day or a week. It takes months, and I’m still in that process.