What we can learn from the Tour de France

The Tour de France is in high gear. Lance Armstrong made most Americans aware of this month long grueling bicycle race across France. Armstrong won 7 of the 13 tours in which he raced. He is a legendary athlete and highly admired cancer survivor and spokesperson.

As an avid cyclist, I enjoy following the Four de France. The scenery is breathtaking. The cyclists make the climbs and descents across the mountains appear effortless. It is perfection of the sport of bicycling. It is a showcase for bicycling and cyclists around the world.

What makes the tour most intriguing is the length of the completion. It is a test of endurance over a month where cyclists ride close to 2,200 miles; about 100 miles per day. Not only do they cycle; they race for the glory and prized yellow jersey.  

There is a lot to be learned from these endurance athletes. They are in it for the long term. On a given day, some cyclists may pull ahead and lead the pack. On other days, they may fall behind only to be replaced by a new pack of cyclists. Each cyclist has a strong point that gives them an advantage. It may be sprinting across flat terrain. It might me climbing the Alps.

This approach works well for setting and attaining goals. On the days when life just does not seem to be treating you well, it is important to meet your smaller goals. You can’t take your eye off the ultimate prize when you are not performing at your peak. Progress, be it small, is still progress. It keeps your momentum moving. It gets you further down the road.

On days when the stars are aligned, our adrenaline kicks in and propels us forward. These days seem much more enjoyable and easier to navigate. Like the tour cyclists, we need to be even more highly focused and using all the tools we have inside to take the lead in meeting our goals on these days.

To the Tour de France cyclists, every minute and second counts. They do not waste time lamenting on their weaknesses and shortcomings. They know the key to a win is to concentrate and build on their strengths. There is no doubt that they are constantly formulating and reformulating their plan for success over the 21 days of cycling.  

The tour goes on. Our lives go on. As you watch the Tour de France, think about what keeps these athletes cycling day after day at their highest output. It is about being focused on that final ride into Paris.

It is given that every cyclist has some down days. What defines a winner is how they turn even the most miserable day into a day that moves them forward. This movement may not be miles. It may be uplift in motivation or a revelation of something new to try that gives them a reason to push forward. This race is a lesson for each of us to be the best we can be.

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