Why I Decided To Train Like a Pro at 21

Learning How To Ride [Episode 1]

Can you become a good, but really good, cyclist when you didn’t start early or have a previous career in ski-jumping. That’s the journey we’re on. Within this series I will write about every step of the way. From being just another semi-in-shape student who rides his bike every once in a while to a dedicated sportsman who became the best cyclist he could possibly be. The goal of the series is to share all of my learnings along the way, both mentally and physiologically. Hoping that this will entertain, but more importantly, help-out others. 

Within the first two episodes I will discuss why I took this decision and the underlying goal. 

So let’s go to the beginning of the story.

Starting From Zero

I am a 21 year old who just graduated from his bachelors degree. Despite some -often way to cold- rides together with my dad I have no real previous experience in cycling. I have never been a member of a club. I have not raced any real races. Ever. Why then aren’t I just pursuing a masters degree or starting out at a job but rather am I trying to become a better and hopefully very good cyclist still?! Because let’s be honest, if I wanted to become actually good (pro-level) I probably should have started waaaaay earlier. -and probably should be much more talented as well-

Still I made this choice, but why? The first and foremost reason is actually quite simple. I just like it. I like to train and see the improvements. I like to nerd-out with my power meter and dive into the data. I like to learn learn about my bodies physiology and above all, I like to ride my bike. But there’s more to it.

Doing it Deliberately

As mentioned before I am 21 years of age, as one’s old and wise neighbor would say: an entire life time ahead of me. Which is probably true but I also know that life moves fast. Enough with the cliches. Oftentimes however when I look at people’s lives I feel like we just go with the flow. All of a sudden we end up in one place without really remembering making a deliberate choice to go there. Without discarding other people’s choices I told myself: I don’t want that. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and feel like I am where I am because of some random subconscious choices I made along the way. Obviously life is full of coincidences and luck but I want to have some feeling of control. -maybe even against my better judgement-

Therefore I wanted to make a deliberate choice for doing something I am fully behind. In this case trying to become the best possible cyclist I can be -more on the end-goal later-. So yeah it’s true that if I wanted to become the best I could have possibly been it would have been better to start out as a kid. But fact is: I did not. It’s like the saying goes: The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now.

(Lack of) Risk Assessment

I rather fail trying than fail to try. Okay, enough with all these quasi inspirational self-help type buzz words but to be honest that’s the way it is. On top of that, yes I am making a somewhat unconventional choice, but it’s not like the entire world-order would collapse if I fail. The point is, it’s not that risky. If you can even call it a risk at all. I am 21 years old, don’t own a home, I don’t have a girlfriend, -I tell myself that’s because I spend so much time on the bike but deep down I know better- so I don’t have that much responsibilities yet. If there ever is a time to try it’s now.

So that’s why. But what’s the goal? Do I want to become the next Dutch winner of the Tour de France or do I want to win a Giro di Italia stage on top of the Passo dello Stelvio? The answer: no. Obviously I would love for that to be the -quite unrealistic- outcome, but it’s not the main goal. More on that within the next article of this series, in which I will go into the actual goal and the Stoic mindset I seize to practice.