Coaches Blog

Be self-reliant

Photo Description: A view of Hawai’i from an airplane window. The water is deep blue, and there are puffy clouds centered around the top of the volcano visible on the island.

Hey there!! It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!

This week Bruce Wayne (my awesome Quintana Roo PRSix) and I are heading west to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to race at IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene (along with several other Team MPI athletes!!). When folks have been finding out that I’m traveling so far to go to a race (and a triathlon at that) a lot of questions come up. Most of them revolve around my bike and how I’m getting it to Coeur d’Alene.

There are a lot of ways to transport a bicycle when traveling somewhere that requires air travel, and I’ve tried just about every one of them over the years. You can ship it to your lodging or a local bike shop via a shipping carrier such as UPS or FedEx, you can send it via a bike transportation service such as Tri Bike Transport, or you can take it with you on the plane as checked luggage. Out of these, my favorite (BY FAR) is to take my bike on the plane with me. When I tell folks this, I usually get some wide eyes. And I know why….most folks don’t know how to break down a bike and put it back together, so the idea of traveling with a bike on the plane and having to be fully responsible for it is alarming to a lot of folks.

So this week, my tip stems from all of this: learn to be self-reliant in as many areas of your sport as possible. Since I love triathlon and want to travel to races, this means that I had to learn as much as I could about the bike so I could travel with it effectively. The other methods of transportation involve less-than-desireable things (such as having to be away from your bike for a long period of time before and after your destination race and increased costs). If you can’t break down and reassemble your own bike, that means that you need to schedule a bike shop to do it for you before you leave, and then again when it gets to your destination. Then, when you go home, that process is reversed. So that’s a total of FOUR trips to the bike shop just for one trip. Not only is getting this done a hassle, but then the bike shops (very rightfully) charge fees for each service.

So several years ago, my dear friend David Barrientos (owner of Buda Bike Company and Tsunami Cycles...the best bike shops in Texas!!) taught me about to break down bikes and put them back together, and then he taught me how to safely pack them for shipping and transportation.

Something wonderful happened when I learned this, and it was something that I didn’t expect. I became more confident when I was *riding* my bike. Why?? Because I UNDERSTOOD it. It wasn’t a foreign mystery that I couldn’t decipher or understand. And as such, my comfort with the bike in ALL aspects increased. I didn’t have to rely on anyone else anymore; I could handle things myself. I can’t even describe how liberating and stress-relieving that is!!

Over the years, I’ve learned this very important thing: things aren’t scary once you learn about them or understand them. Almost all of the fears I see manifested in the athletes who I work with are born out of some lack of understanding or feeling of inadequacy that is related to a lack of knowledge. In short: they are uncertain. As Coach Mark Turner and I have said ad nauseam over the years: Uncertainty is the number one enemy of athletes on race day. And I’ve always taken that one step further and said that uncertainty is the number one enemy of athletes ALL the time - in training AND in racing. Learning all that you can about all aspects of your chosen sport will serve you SO well, I promise.

So this week, my tip is just that. Aim to be as self-reliant as is reasonable for the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Challenge yourself to learn something new about something that scares you this week. You very well might surprise yourself with what you actually learn. :)



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