Have you ever seen your favorite cyclist tear it up without even trying? Do you think they got that way because they were lucky, or because they were born into it? Let me both disappoint and liberate you at the same time. One cyclist isn't any luckier than another or born into riding skills easier than another.

If you were to take the top cyclists and find out how much they have practiced/trained and how much they continually practice/train, it would be quite mind boggling. Is it a coincidence that only the greatest cyclists are the ones that practice/train so much? Cyclists who have been riding for a long time and still have not progressed past a certain point, have not done so because of lack of talent. They've come to this point because of their lack of the proper practice and/or training! Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent.

If it makes you feel better to believe that Eddie Merckx or any of the other great cyclists were born with a gift that you were not born with, then believe away only to the detriment of your own riding. Subsequently, this is a subject that is rarely addressed or, often times, misunderstood completely. The definition of "talent" is a natural aptitude or skill. As far as practice goes, we all know what practice is and that doing more of it makes us better at whatever skill we are trying to improve (if done properly). The belief that you must be born talented or have some natural inclination to excel above the herd is not only completely false, but also extremely limiting to your practice, training and mindset! Many believe so fervently in this idea of an innate need for talent - as opposed to sheer practice and training - that they talk themselves right out of excellence! In effect, losing the battle before ever attempting the challenge! Defenders of the talent theory like to use examples of great icons - like Fausto Coppi - that excel and say " there, you can't tell me that they are not talented!" They assume that the person was simply born with the ability they are displaying in their excellent performance. This assumption, however, is very insulting and negates the thousands - or even tens of thousands of hours - that a person has spent practicing and training. It's easy to look at someone who has "achieved success" and say that they have some leg up on you. The truth is, everybody sucks when they first get on a bike! It's just that some of us forgot the initial steps and how long they actually took.

Gino Bartali sucked when he first started to ride! Sean Kelly was not a "pro" when he first attacked a climb! We would be much better off to replace the word talent with perseverance. Now that is a pill I can swallow! If someone said to me "the reason that a particular cyclist does not ride as well as Jan Ullrich is because he doesn't have the talent", I would never concur. However, if someone said to me, "the reason that someone does not ride as well as Lance Armstrong is because they don't have the same perseverance that he had", I would wholeheartedly agree!

Now that you know this, I want you to be aware of how you view great accomplishments. It does take a little bit of the magic away, but empowers you to create that magic for yourself. There is no task too great, or goal too lofty that you cannot attain if properly planned out and walked through step-by-step. This is not a pep rally (or maybe it is). This is, however, the truth and is good news for those of us that are willing to work hard and smart. It's bad news for those that are waiting for talent or their recently purchased scratch off ticket to "hit it big". Now, DON'T go easy on yourself. Go practice as if you are the next Jeannie Longo.

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