I’m always looking for new tips on how to endure pain and hardship on the bike … and in life in general. Here’s a good nugget of wisdom from an Outside magazine article about the Death Race, a sadistic two-day sufferfest in Vermont that involves running, chopping wood, lugging heavy loads and all kinds of other outrageous challenges designed to break you down physically and mentally. The New York Times calls the race: “‘Survivor’ meets ‘Jackass.’” The event’s Web site is: YouMayDie.com. After you sign up, the organizers send you e-mails that say, “It’s not too late. Just quit.” Or they provide training advice: “Check yourself into a state prison and get into as many fights as possible” or “Have some teeth pulled without drugs.”
The writer, Mark Jenkins, describes in colorful detail how he gets his butt royally whalloped by winner Joe Decker and the top woman, Stefanie Bishop, a financier and triathlete from New York. (There’s a wonderful photo of Bishop, dressed in black tights and a jog bra, her strawberry blond hair tied back as she lifts an axe over her head and prepares to whack the hell out of a log.) Warning, Bishop is hot. Here’s the photo she sent in with her Death Race application.
OK, finally the tip: The writer noticed that throughout the race, both Decker and Bishop were always smiling. He said that after the race, Bishop explained, “Even when you’re miserable, smiling lifts your mood. Allowing yourself to get flustered and angry is when you lose focus, then everything falls apart.”
So simple. So true. Too often, when my feet are soaked on a freezing winter ride or I’m pedaling squares up a long, cruel climb, I find myself looking much like Roger Hammond in the picture above (Photo credit: Tim Van Wichelen for www.cyclingnews.com). The long face does seem to compound your misery. Granted, putting on a smile isn’t easy to do. To be fair to Hammond, he was suffering through freezing rain in last year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, during which much of the field dropped out because the weather was ridiculously awful. But still, smiling through the pain is something that’s now high on my to-practice list.
As with most cycling wisdom, it’s easily transferable to your worklife. One of the first pieces of advice I got from my mentor when I was promoted to management was: “Just keep smiling. Always let them see you smiling.” The grin not only helps you keep control of your emotions, it also calms your staffers. Being upbeat, staying on an even keel is key to keeping your team focusing on the task at hand.wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Outside magazine, Pain, Roger Hammond | No Comments »