As a social rider, perhaps you only ever ride with the same group of cyclists – taking your designated role as “good hill climber”, or the one who gets in front to pull us to the end. Perhaps you always join the same bunch? Or you spin every Tuesday, ride on Thursday afternoon and do the club ride on Saturday – it’s your routine.

As a competitive cyclist, are you the climber? The sprinter? Do you fall out the peleton at 80k’s? Are you only able to rate after the top 10 in the seeding index?
Think for yourself about the ceilings you have unconsciously set. One of my clients had decided that he could never hold on to the end of the race and he “always fell off at 10km’s from the end” – sure enough, it happened race after race – amazing…..

We underestimate the impact of the “lids” we put on our abilities. We not only believe these “truths” about ourselves, but hypnotise ourselves into owning them and spend much unconscious energy in hardwiring these beliefs.  Athletes can become so task focused and rigid in their perception of what they are capable of that the chance of significantly improving performance above and beyond their current level may be non-existent. Elite athletes may feel that they have “peaked” and that no further improvement is possible.

What do you do when you reach the lid? You do more of what you are already doing, or you throw in the towel. The focus is always on physical performance techniques which do not seem to change the status quo! Now experts are saying look elsewhere for the magic solution.

The first step is awareness. Write a list of all the assumptions you are making about your cycling – what are your perceived limits? Who has decided that they are not a hill climber? a sprinter? Yeah -= and I bet you have been telling yourself that for a very long time……

Next: Stretch – set a bigger vision for yourself – a higher lid. Think of what you are capable of and set a higher target. Join the A or B bunch; decide you will get to the top of “that @#$#@# hill” first. Be bold, be courageous , be outrageous – I have seen some remarkable lids successfully blown right off the jar!
Create a new context to try out your new potential, even if this is imaginary – if you are riding in the vets group, pretend you are competing with the Elites – or if you are an elite, ride with Cancellara…..
If you have been falling off the bunch on the hills, see it as an opportunity to attack, (and if you really fancy yourself as Contador, just drop poor old “Schleck” and deny at the after-ride-coffee that you noticed your mate was struggling with a mechanical.)

Lastly – Know that the limits you have put on yourself have been conceived in your mind as your very own personal, self inflicted, narrow-focused limitation.

Professor Tim Noakes says that at the highest level of competition, for example at the Olympics; there is very little separating the top 8 athletes in an event in terms of physical competency. What does make one individual win their event is his or her belief that they ARE the Olympic Gold Winner. – the highest lid of all. How does thast translate for us? Just ask the bumblebee -

NASA scientists concluded that the bumblebee personifies mental toughness. These scientists conducted extensive research on the bumblebee’s flying ability. They concluded that the bumblebee violated all aerodynamic principles of flight and was therefore not capable of flight. The only reason why bumblebees are able to fly is because no-one told them the outcome of this research. They can fly because they think and believe they can fly.

So the moral of the story: DON’T BE A FLEA, THINK LIKE A BEE.

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