Why pick a goal event?

I feel like I’m pedaling through boiling molasses as I struggle to keep my cadence from dropping, my quads screaming for me to ease up as I drive up the last 100 meters of another hill. My throat stings from forcefully inhaling the brisk February air. I fight the twenty mile per hour headwind as I crest the hill and try to find a comfortable tuck position on my bike for the descent. The fatigue of the previous 60 miles is now ever-present with each turn of the cranks. As my speed picks up, the chill air drives tears from my eyes. Willingly subjecting myself to this suffering on a cold winter afternoon is the price of admission for selecting an ambitious early-spring race goal.

As an east coast road cyclist, the Tour of Battenkill had always drawn my attention. I fantasized about what it would be like to compete at a spring classics-like event, an event that draws stiff competition from around the country and beyond. Until 2014, racing the Tour of Battenkill was just that, a dream. 2014 was the year that I decided to finally make the springtime trip to attend this race. This also coincided with my upgrade to Category 2 on the road and so I knew that I would need more fitness than I had relied on in years past!

I didn’t want to go to Battenkill and be disappointed in my performance, to struggle to finish, to be out of things before they got started.

So I trained my butt off that winter. Battenkill became my focus, my motivation. Battenkill was what I thought about on long, cold rides through the hills near my home. It was what I thought about when I got home from work and didn’t want to get on the trainer after dinner or during long rides on the trainer when the snow kept me inside for weeks on end.

Through the experience of selecting an event that I knew would push me physically and motivate me mentally, I found the great benefit that picking a good goal event really is.

Many of us have ideas of events that we want to do well at, or goals we want to achieve. A lot of the time we don’t do a great job of setting goals that really benefit us. We pick goals that we think will make us happy if we reach them. Many of us, quite honestly, don’t do a great job of setting goals that will help actually push us to improve.

I’m not going to get into the specifics in this post of how to set goals for your cycling and training, and the benefits of doing this well.

What I do want to convey is how picking a goal event that excites you and motivates you, whether that is a state or national championship race, a large regional race, or winning your favorite local race, can push you to train hard, push through adversity and reach a new level of performance.

You can learn more about setting racing and training goals in the post that a wrote a while ago.

Have you used this strategy of picking a goal event that really motivates you successfully before? What is an event that would really drive you to train hard and reach a new level of fitness or performance? Leave a reply in the comments below and inspire other people to set a goal event for the coming season as well.

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