The Desire to Win: Using your mind on Race Day

I’d rather be lucky than suffer to win, but unfortunately you mostly have to suffer to win-- mentally and physically. 

Bicycle racing at any level is highly competitive and never easy.  What makes one racer succeed over another is not always talent, fitness or long training days with specific coaching or training plans.  That’s not to say a training plan or a coach’s guidance doesn’t prepare a bike racer for the rigors of racing and eventual success.  Of course it does and many a racer has proved it. But when a bike racer approaches the line of a mass race start, with up a 100 racers or more, the mental strength, the heart and determination to win can make all the difference in a race’s outcome.

The 2011 race year, for myself and many other Studio Velo racers in cross, road, mountain & triathlon, is highlighted by many examples of these moments of personal greatness and victory.  Many of you may recall my article from 2010, titled “The Legs to Race, The Passion to Win” in which I described my personal achievements on the race course fueled by the passion and enthusiasm for the sport and the support of all of clients.  In 2011, I not only experienced more of these mystical moments on the bike, but witnessed several other Studio Velo racers do the same.

When I line up to the start line, surrounded by dozens of fit, leg-shaven competitors, my very first feeling is inevitably fear and doubt; rarely do I exude tremendous confidence or optimism about the potential outcome.  You literally feel like the numbers are against you. There are 100 competitors who are racing the same race and you tell yourself, “What are the chances of winning today.” Yet, on rare occasions, moments before the gun sounds, a certain confidence or vision of victory overcomes me. I begin to tell myself, “ I can win; I can do this,” and I realize that ever rider, all abilities relatively equal, has a shot at winning. That confidence that so lightly graced your body now transforms into pure drive and determination, fueling an absolute desire to win, to suffer more than anyone else, to stand above the rest of the field in the final moments of the race.

This mental advantage is what it takes to win. It’s what separates first from second, second from third, and third from fourth at the end of the race. It’s why the first place racer explodes on the last lap or wins the finishing sprint with no teammates to lead him out. It’s how a racer distinguishes his entire racing career when he crosses the finishing line in first – perhaps for the first time—by using his mental fortitude to give it his all. 

This past October, I not only experienced this moment of emotional transformation, from doubt to confidence, to win a hard-fought battled in the Masters ‘A’ cyclocross race at Stafford Lake; I also witnessed another well-deserved Studio Velo racer, Eamonn Tucker, win his first ever bike race. I will never forget the look in his eyes as I yelled to him, “it’s your day Eamonn,” and he exploded off the start line with that perfect combination of heart and determination to take the race all the way to the line.  And that he did. Without grace or style, Eamonn literally outran the second-place finisher in the final meters of the race. Eamonn fell to the ground in exhaustion and a bit of disbelief. 

Unknown to his competitors around him at the start line, Eamonn was literally preparing himself mentally for the greatest finish of his racing career to date.  One could see it in his eyes.

Eamonn at Race Start

And that is precisely the difference between winning and losing on race day. It’s a racer’s ability to turn fear into desire, doubt into confidence, and fiction into reality – sometimes all in the seconds or moments before the whistle sounds.

To all of you racers out there, on and off the race circuit, from group ride challenges to virtual challenges, take a leap of faith. Tell yourself you can win and you will. It won’t be easy. It won’t come without work, but it will come. And when it does, relish in the moment. Because as many of you know, crossing the finish line in first is unlike any feeling in the world—at least it is for me.


Rapha Festive 500 Rides with Studio Velo


Are you looking for a way to keep motivated and riding over the holiday?  Come join Studio Velo and Rapha and partake in the Rapha Festive 500 competition.  The idea is simple.  Ride 500km between December 23rd to December 31st.  The challenge is staying motivated and making to time to get it done.  

The Rapha Cycle Club will be leading a series of rides departing their location in San Francisco each morning at 8:00 or 8:30.  Come by a little early for a coffee and treat.  

Each of the rides will be between 50 and 65 miles, with varying amounts of elevation gain.  They will be fun rides, not race pace, as the idea is to ride 500km, not to simulate race day.  

SV riders Shelly and Chris will be leading the rides on the 27th and 28th, and we would love to have you join us.  If you would like to meet up to ride to the Rapha Cycle Club, we will be departing Studio Velo at 7:30 on the 27th and 28th to ride across the bridge.  

This will be a great way to finish up any cycling goals you might have had for 2011 and to help get you started for a strong 2012.  We will keep you updated with ride information via Facebook and Twitter updates.  

The ride schedule and ride leaders will be as follows:

December 23rd - Hosted by Strava - 8AM

December 24th - Saturday Rapha Cycle Club Ride - 8 30AM

December 25th - Bonus X Mas ride with Derrick Lewis, a fellow Rapha employee in town from NYC! 12pm

December 26th - Rapha Cycle Club Ride - 8:30AM

December 27th - Ladies (And Gentlemen's) Ride with the Studio Velo Women's Team - 8:30AM

December 28th-  Studio Velo Team - 8:30AM

December 29th - Mission Cycling - 8:30AM

We hope to see you out on the road with us!


Email me here with questions:

PS. And if you have not seen our Top Marin Rides, check them out here:

Winter Training – Chilling Out and Loving It

Not very often are we lucky enough to get contributing posts from true writers.  Enjoy these great insights from Author Ross Goldstein.  


I once heard Andy Hampsten say that one of the best things about riding in Boulder was that “it snowed often enough to keep you from getting over trained.”

His words rang in my ears a few days ago. I was wrestling booties over my cycling shoes in preparation for a quick spin across Mt. Tam to Stinson Beach. The temperature was hovering around the low 40s. I was layered like a tortilla casserole and turned the first pedal cranks hoping to generate enough heat to insulate me from the chilly air. It worked. Before long I felt like a kid inside on a snowy day, looking out at the weather from inside the warm cocoon my wool shirt, fleece lined jacket, knickers, long fingered gloves and polypro cap provided.

I like riding in the winter. A different mindset kicks in when the temperature drops. Winter, off-season riding offers its own reward… the pleasure of crisp, clean air, the feeling that comes with just turning the cranks, the sensation of the wind against the skin, the sense of vitality that simply getting a ride in, regardless of distance and time, can bring .

Winter riding can be so different from the training we do when the air is warm, racing season is in full bloom, and every ride is governed by the metrics of wattage, heart rate, distance and pace. In the winter, we give ourselves license to just enjoy the ride.

For me, the release from the obsessive monitoring of riding metrics frees my mind to go internal. I daydream. I fantasize. I follow my thoughts like a dog following its nose…memories so old that they are shrouded in cobwebs, solutions to dilemmas that seemed impenetrable, conversations that I would like to have with others, and myself, fantasies of vacations, escapes and new beginnings. It’s kind of Proustian, but then that’s me.

We cyclists tend to be obsessive about our riding. We don’t exercise, we train. We don’t ride, we cycle. We don’t…well, we just don’t do anything too casually. Winter riding, with the re-calibration of effort that the elements dictate, can be a great opportunity to just relax and enjoy the ride.

So, next frigid day, when you are thinking that you will take up residence on the couch and turn on the tv instead of hitting the road on your bike, remind yourself that a cold day outing can be a great way to reconnect with the simple joy of riding.

By: Ross E. Goldstein


Ross Goldstein is the author of Chain Reaction, story of challenge and redemption, set in the world of professional cycling. Chain Reaction is available at Studio Velo and their online store here and online at

MCBC Off-road forum a big success

As many of you already know, I joined the Board of Directors of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.  One of the most exciting parts of being a board director is being part of the new Off-Road/Mountain Bike Committee. Last week, I was one of four moderators who participated in the first of several Off-road bicycle forums.  I welcome your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. 

Thanks! SFP

On Monday, November 14, 70 people attended the Marin County Bicycle Coalition's public forum introducing their new Off-road program and MCBC collected input on priorities for a successful program. After a brief introduction by MCBC Executive Director Kim Baenisch covering their many on-road successes, Kim introduced the 4 “E’s” that will guide the new Off-road program: Environment, Education, Enhancement and Enforcement.

After the introduction a diverse audience of stakeholders broke-up into smaller groups and headed to one of four stations. Each group spent 15 minutes at each “E” station to suggest how best to address land stewardship, trail etiquette, compliance with rules and trail enhancement. Here are some of the things MCBC heard: 

  • Trail maintenance and quality design are key
  • Focus on trail connections as a way to expand access between points
  • Make better signage, from trail etiquette to interpretive signs
  • Encourage self-policing to create good behavior through peer pressure
  • Expand volunteer bike patrol
  • Increased trail opportunities may increase compliance
  • Hold traffic school for off-road citations to teach proper trail behavior
  • There needs to be one place to learn all the trail etiquette rules for safe trail access
  • Retail outlets for provision of education (Handouts, rule books, workshops, etc)
  • Expand NorCal’s “Spirit of Howdy”
  • Consistent signage, trail rules and trail maps throughout Marin’s many parks
  • Desire for more bike rider and equestrian education
  • Trail adoption program for bike shops and trail user groups
  • Volunteering for trail work and patrols
  • Build sustainable trails to protect and improve the environment
  • Reporting illegal activities including rouge trails and marijuana farms
  • Pay to play concept for trail access
  • Habitat protection and interpretive signage

Is your fit holding you back?

Does this sound like a cyclist you know? 

The perfect frame. Check. High-performance wheels.  Check. The latest parts package (gruppo). Check. A comprehensive bike fit.  Anyone? 

These are the same people who wouldn't dare run in shoes that were too tight or wear a suit two sizes too big. Yet, they're out riding hundreds of miles, enduring mysterious pains and ailments, all because their bike wasn't properly fit to their body and riding style from the beginning.

Retul offers the ability to measure to sub millimeter accuracy. 

So what's got the bee in our seatpost about bike fit?

In the shop and on the road, your professionals at Studio Velo see cyclists contorted on the bike, stuck in incredibly inefficient riding positions. Typically, we see fit issues centered on core areas including:

            •            Saddles — too high, too low or improperly tilted
            •            Cleats misplaced, increasing the risk to knees or hips
            •            Handlebar reach — over or under-extended, too longer or too short
            •            Unspoken penal or vaginal numbness — a common pain among  riders

Bike fitting by the Pro:
More Power, More Efficiency, Zero Pain   

Fit before all else.
Fit is one of the most basic, central tenets of our business. A proper bike fit is the most important part of riding a current bike or buying a new one. The dimensions of the bike are obviously important, ie., the size of the bike, as is every aspect of your relationship to your bike: Your posture, your pedaling mechanics, your power and efficiency are all important and critical outputs of a good bike fit.  

"Our commitment is to fit the bike to you, not fit you to the bike. We not only believe strongly in this, we guarantee it."

As one of the partners at Studio Velo, it is this principle that draws me back to conducting all of our bike fitting, both in Mill Valley and in our fit studio in San Francisco.  Each and every day, I apply not only scientific research and study but also exhaustive training and over a decade of fitting experience. Certainly is helps that Studio Velo is uniquely outfitted with the best fit tools in the business, something no other shop in the area can claim. Located inside the world-class cycling and fitness center Velo SF in San Francisco, we utilize one of the biggest innovations in fit technology in the last decade: The Dynamic Fit Unit (DFU). The DFU visualizes real time changes to cycling position while the rider is in motion on the bike. This --in conjunction with the Retul fit system -- lets us develop a position ideal for your body, with zero limitations. 

Deterline on DFU crop 24Mar2011
Retul combined with the DFU is unmatched in bike fitting. 

Designed and engineered by one of the world’s most innovative bicycle manufactures, Guru Bicycles, the DFU optimizes your position on the bike with improved comfort, power and efficiency. A good fit will keep you riding and injury free for years to come. It will not only increase your performance and efficiency, but also make you want to hop on your bike and go for a ride. No pain, major gain.

Colin Beardsley Partner/Fit Specialist About Colin:  

Colin Beardsley, former pro cyclist with over 15-plus years of shop experience, helps all riders achieve a more perfect relationship with his or her bike. His pedigree includes working with early fit pioneer Clay Mankin, to racing at the professional level, and maintaining a presence in shops around the Bay Area for over 15 years. As the premier bike fit specialist in the Bay Area, Colin was the first to introduce the Retul Fit system locally. His best tools, however, are his eyes and ears.  Colin listens closely to address any possible biomechanical problem, often seeing issues riders are unaware of.

31 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA