Mindset and groupdynamics
Rage in your belly, cool in your head and compassion in your heart
Cycling is a game of alternating cooperation and competition. In addition, to ride fast you need tap into yourself for the right amount of agression. And aggression does not always go along with being wise and emphatic. So racing in groups gives conflicting demands on your mental attitude.
Before you often think differently than you do during the ride
You’re going to ride a quiet round. But there is a nice group passes. And you hook on. And suddenly you ride a lot harder than you planned to do.
Everyone in the group has heavy legs and wants to take it easy. You know actually: Slowly but surely it will go faster. With the exception of very disciplined racers doing a specific training, most riders in a group will eventually speed up. I too, you too. Under the influence of adrenaline we think differently than at rest. Put on your bike shoes and feel the saddle, then the body says: “Go, go!”
How it works it works, sometimes you do not what you have planned or what is sensible. Your actions are determined not only by your logic brains. The nice thing is that there is a predictability in it. Because of this predictability you can be aware and play with it.
How to deal?
If you know how your mindset changes while riding you can intervene in this action, for example by looking to another, positive way to driving slowly. The picture of slow driving you change from negative: ‘loser’, ‘poor’ or ‘weak’ to positive: ‘recovery’, ‘building up’, ‘a day off’.
Making agreements is wise and tough
In informal groups you can try to make agreements. Where do we ride fast? Are we going to sprint or not? So that we can have a nice competition among us, but in a good place and not a full and busy cycling path for example.
Very wise certainly. But also awfully difficult. You’re not sure whether you yourself want a agreement. Others say that we “just ride a quiet round” and don’t want to talkabout it. You don’t want them to think you are afraid. Moreover, you know that others will respond. While you say you want agree on where you as a group will ride fast, they say: “So, you’re in shape for sure”.
Without an agreement or with an agreement that wil be broken it means that you as a group will ride full throttle on the wrong places.
Notion of other road users
If you ride with your group a particular route each week in all weathers then you find it annoying when ‘your’ trail on summer days is ‘overtaken’ by ‘good weather’ cyclists.
The trick is to link that to a different positive image c.q. feeling. A word like ‘ fellow road users’ for example has a different effect on your mindset than the word’ other traffic.
A smart mindset is to create even more difficult if it went wrong or allmost wrong. You, for example, are being cut by a car or an E-bike. The adrenaline was already high on the bike and now this. You are frightened and furious.
Quite understandably, emotionally very satisfying :), but usually not so smart.
See also: Dealing with the other road users
Switching your mindset
During a trip you have to be able to switch in mindset. Between rage in your belly, coolness in your head and compassion in your heart.
Try yourself to program for different situations. Where do you need a racing mode, where a touring mode or even a stroling mode (along the terraces :)). How do you feel the different mindsets? How fast can you change in mindset? How do you do that switching of mindset?
If you’re at full speed on a a cycle path and a parent with a small child is coming from the opposite direction you have to switch back to compassion and touring mode. It helps if you don’t about them as hindrances but you say in yourself things as: “Nice to see such a child sitting on the bike.”
If you threaten to come almost in a shouting match or worse, do de-escalate. Have a quick note ready: “Are you ok?” Phew, here I have to recover from.”
In urban areas, change to “interval rest” and enjoy the other people.
You switch not only your derailleur but also your mindset. As athletes shortly before a match while beiing in race preparation give an interview in a laid back way. And then, chak, switch to the game mode. It is nice to see. Or a sprint train in full final. This is not only blind rage in the legs. The lead out-men and the sprinters keep looking and communicating.
It is nice also to be able to turn the mindset yourselves. A sunny Sunday is a good time to practice it 🙂
Controlling your mindset is not only an individual matter. The group dynamics ensures a smooth or hectic, safe or unsafe, social or ot social behaviour on the road.
Status and influence
The wisest people do not always have the most influence. The status of the riders in a group is different. Usually the strongest ‘legs’ have the greatest impact. They can also apply that influence for a smart ride as a group. Or are you just doing your own thing?
If you are the weakest you usually have less status and you are busy enough to keep yourself on track. To influence the group behavior you have to be strong in your head.
There is a particular culture in the group. Just ask the nickname given to the group by others 🙂
These are exampoles of things that sometimes are in nteh way of riding smart. How can you change or improve that?
It’s hard to influence your own mental attitude, to change the attitude of a group is even more difficult. Giving feedback, leading by example or not following bad behaviour, it’s a start. About feedback see: cooperation and communication / coaching each other
See also: cooperation and communication
Helmet as mind game