Forget the bike. Forget the gear, the road, the nutrition. Forget everything but you. Stand there and take a good, hard look. There are some truths you’re going to have to face. You are you – no one else. You are only as strong as you are. You’re only as fast, as well trained as you. This is important, because everything – everything starts there. With you.
There are two sides to this ancient Greek aphorism (an inscription from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi). In one sense, it’s a warning: to know your limits, be humble, and avoid boasting. In the case for the Temple of Apollo, it could be taken as a reminder to walk humbly in the presence of gods. On the other side, it means that the opinions of others account for nothing – that you must know who you are, no matter what others say or do.
Let’s look at the first part. The bike is awesome. The bike allows us to be express our own awesomeness, and to reach awesomittudeness (that’s right, you read it) that we’d never dreamed possible. But, we are not the only ones with a bike. Others have bikes. Others train hard. And others will sometimes be naturally more adept at generating the awesome results a bike can yield.
So when you step onto the field of battle – be it a weekly group ride where you might sprint for a sign, a tour ride, or a race – know that others are just as capable (or more so) at being awesome. This does not diminish you. Instead, it prevents you from underestimating others.
Still, no matter how much we may compare ourselves to anyone else, we are by far the largest deciding factor in our own performance. We have to take that truth at face value. Understanding your situation and your current limitations does not mean capitulating to them. No. In fact, understanding your limits is how you improve. Maybe you’re not a speed demon, but you’ve got endurance; wait them out, wear them down. Maybe you can’t sustain power; adjust your training and work on what you need to.
Knowing your own pros and cons allows you to make the correct choices for you, so that you can use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.