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Correlation between Mental Strength and having the Best Equipment?

Mar 10, 2009
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We all know that Mental Strength can make huge differences in performance (eg Home vs Away games, choking, etc). There has been a lot of debate about whether saving weight on your frame/wheels, or having deep section carbon rims vs alloy boxed rims, stiff vs flexible frame, Campag vs Shimano, etc really makes a difference in speed. These debates usually end when others drawing on data from sites like analytical cycling which suggests that it doesn't in any huge way, especially in the amateur ranks.

I argue that it could. Wouldn't having all the best equipment and knowing your bike is in top working order mechanically, give you the confidence to know that you have noone or nothing else to blame but yourself for bad performances? And when you have no excuses but yourself aren't you more likely to push a little harder to keep up or perform because you don't want to have to admit to yourself that you just weren't good enough. It's not like you can say as your about to be dropped "if only I had those carbon lightweight wheels, I could keep up". When you can place blame on other things (eg. the wheels), there is a possibility you may not fight as hard as you feel it really isn't your fault. Not as much to fight for vs if it is entirely all your fault.

On the other hand, beating all those show ponies on inferior equipment sure does feel good and does give you a rise in confidence (when in matter of fact you were probably on realitve equal footing to begin with). Vice versa being beaten by someone with no frills clothing on a crappy, dirty bike when you have all the best, really does suck and can probably kill any confidence gains from having the best.

Anyone know of any professional research papers on this? But my theory is that there is a correlation that could make up more time than the improved equipment really caters for. (FYI, I do have a psych degree). All opinions welcome.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Yes this is true, but we don't stay young for ever.
However, If you feel the new aero wheels or bike are going to make you faster, perhaps they will, but more due to your mental belief. I guess this is what I'm getting at.
 
Jul 27, 2009
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Dumbo's magic feather

It's Dumbo's magic feather at work, mostly.

Look, there are marginal improvements to be made with high-end gear. But, with the exception of TT's, they're very very small.

I'd have to say the only time in retrospect where I've said "geez, I might have won if it wasn't for the bike" is where something broke :)
 
Placebo or Self Delusion or Cognitive Dissonance or Social Status

Take your pick. The reality is that marketers love these aspects of human behaviour. It separates us from our money. Every real empirical study shows that the differences are not significant in any way. And often when the data clearly shows that improvements can be had by going against what is the trend they are ignored (see: cognitive dissonance). The cycling community has accepted what we are told and we should be ready to drink the Kool-Aid at any time now. Most tech is all about fixing something that was never broken. This is not an anti-progress rant. It is simply about evidence or the complete lack there of. Make a claim and back it up with real data, that is progress.
 
Jul 6, 2009
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yes and no in the crit i did last week(cat3) i was on my cane creek volos sterling clinchers 1700g-1650g non aero. i think in the crit it was not much of an issue though im always envious of all the riders on crazy tubulars. now when i do a raod race with 10000 feet of climbing and im on my cheap somewhat heavy wheels and another guy is on zipp 202 and were of equal fitness im in trouble and will have to produce more watts on my wheels than i would if on the zipps. mental strength does go along way particularly in the lower categories and it is fun killing other riders on crazy set ups but regardless i want a sick set of race wheels.
 
forty four said:
yes and no in the crit i did last week(cat3) i was on my cane creek volos sterling clinchers 1700g-1650g non aero. i think in the crit it was not much of an issue though im always envious of all the riders on crazy tubulars. now when i do a raod race with 10000 feet of climbing and im on my cheap somewhat heavy wheels and another guy is on zipp 202 and were of equal fitness im in trouble and will have to produce more watts on my wheels than i would if on the zipps. mental strength does go along way particularly in the lower categories and it is fun killing other riders on crazy set ups but regardless i want a sick set of race wheels.

How many more watts? What is the difference between the total mass of you and your bike and him and his bike. We are talking about a few hundred grams over a total of over 90000 grams which equals 0.2%!!!! And 0.2% of 350 watts is 0.7 watts!!! Do you still think that he will kill you going up that hill on his sick wheels?
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Regardless whether the belief that your gear will make you faster is enough to actually go faster, people do look down at you if you have a crappy bike and/or clothing. This can effect your self-confidence (mental strength).

I remember being in this position about 20yrs ago. In this one race, i was laughed at and mocked by half the peleton when I went from the back of the pack to the front at the beginning of this 12km climb. I didn't know crap about tactics, was riding a crappy bike 3 sizes to big for me and had retro clothing on. But for some reason thought I could climb and had dreams of winning the KOM prize up the top (Had been watching too much of the 1987 TdF). People assumed I would be useless. Luckily, I had a huge ego back then and believed I would ride them off my wheel, which I did.

It still happening today (the judgements based on appearence), when I turn up for club rides where people don't know me. Still have crap gear and am now overweight. But I'm about to get a new bike, etc. It will be interesting if anything changes both in my belief in my new gear and the judgements of others.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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That's why we set you up with that wheel set Indurain. If anything those wheels are a direct mock right back at those people that think they "need" the absolute lightest and most expensive junk to be faster. Joke is on them. ;)
 

buckwheat

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It is true that Indurain always had the best "preparations" for his time. Were he not as "prepared" in comparison to the other riders, I wonder if he would have had the same confidence in his abilities.



I doubt it myself. Does this mean he was a mental weakling?
 

the big ring

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Jul 28, 2009
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Been a while since I had "poor" equipment, but would offer the following:

if you are more extroverted, you are more aware of and influenced by external factors - other people and their kit

i personally am an introvert, and raced road for the first couple of years with MTB shoes, purely because they were comfortable and you could walk in them. i know for a fact someone looked down at me wearing them, until i dropped him on a 6km climb mid race. i honestly do not care too much what other people have or use - my motivation and "mental strength" come from within.

i respect the guy kicking *** on an old reynolds 531 steelie with downtube shifters, and take great joy in beating the guy on the carbon bling bike, but at the end of the day the greatest competitor i will ever face is myself.
 
Jul 12, 2009
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I don't have the best and most expensive equipment, but it is really important that I have everything I can afford to be in the best possible operating condition. Otherwise it weighs on my mind. I can't deal with distractions to well, and only if I've prepared the best I can will I have no complaints with my results.
 
Jul 29, 2009
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At some point however quality of kit has to make a difference.

if you're on a child's tricycle with no gears, I'm thinking you could be in trouble as the pace hots up regardless of how good you are.

So at what point do you stop?

I guess that depends on how much money you are willing to spend and how much you want to win.

My main sport is hockey so the kit is minimal, however there is no question that quality of stick, shinguards and shoes all make a difference to a point. a 50 quid stick from a shop is a waste of money even if you are playing at a low level, spend £100 particularly if you shop around online and you can get something very good. spend £200 and and you probably wont notice the difference unless you are playing at a high level and even then you wont need one that much.
 
Apr 5, 2010
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Black Dog said:
How many more watts? What is the difference between the total mass of you and your bike and him and his bike. We are talking about a few hundred grams over a total of over 90000 grams which equals 0.2%!!!! And 0.2% of 350 watts is 0.7 watts!!! Do you still think that he will kill you going up that hill on his sick wheels?

Anyone that would look down on a rider because of his bike or clothing isn't worth the thought given them already in this thread.

Regarding the OT, I tend to be objective about things. As long as my bike is decent and safe, I don't think about it much once I'm moving. I'm beaten by riders, not bikes.

On the other hand, I don't think it's fair to say that a person should just loose his gut instead of putting money into, say, wheels. Your gut isn't a dynamic part of the equation the way wheels are. If wheels give me a few minutes advantage over a long climb, that seems to be worth thinking about.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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It is nice to own a pro bike. I found that once I had a bike that was equal or better than most on the ride I had to deal with the less than pro waistline. Both have benefited my performance mentally and physically too
 

Green Tea

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Correlation between Mental Strength and having the Best Equipment?

Its the guy on the bike, the guy that looks at every angle of improving athletic performance aka Lance Armstrong, Cancellara-esque.

Deep Section carbon rims?. Take pilates, having a strong core, being in the gym, theres 3 things alone which will do more for you than fancy rims ever will.

I go just as fast & put out the same power on my 1980 steel frame Raleigh as my carbon framed bike (there both the same weight). Irrelevant. Its about "training hard", on & off the bike, knowing you have done everything possible.
 
May 3, 2010
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Mental fortitude is absolutely the #1 attribute one needs to succeed in competitive cycling
to push and push and not succumb to the pain and pull up when the legs and lungs scream

to a certain extent this can be developed, but in most cases this is something you are either born with or not

call it *** strength if you will

but for sure it cannot be bought

Many gear-centric riders are actually poor racers
they put so much stock in their hardware that it opens them up to lots of small defeats and 'bicycle hypochondriac' moments

they have so thoroughly convinced themselves of the superiority of their equipment (and furthermore the necessity of only riding such sterling equipment) that they will let wheel rub when they break a spoke.. or a mysterious creak... or a breakaway companion on a seemingly superior ride
F with their head

yet the former pro or top flite privateer who rides twice a month; and is still riding their battered team bike from '01...
This guy can show up on the group ride and spank all the CatIII group ride heroes on their Princes and S-works

cause he either has; or has developed the ability to suffer and push thru...
 
True and True. Determination and the ability to suffer while never giving up makes you faster than a lot of riders that are much more fit. Throw in some good technique and experience (both allow you to save energy) and you can do a lot with very little. The guy who wins the race is not the strongest at the start line it is often the guy who is the strongest at the finish line.
 
SirLes said:
At some point however quality of kit has to make a difference.

really?
I have an OCR1 that i picked up a few years back for $900 with a full ultegra groupset. The simple fact is that there's nothing I can do on some $6000 bike that I can't do on my OCR...

I love dropping the All-the-gear-no-idea folks

same goes with my MTB - a Jamis Hardtail. Recently at an XC event surrounded by folks on their expensive full suspension bikes looking down their noses at me. even heard a guy saying how much he reckoned hardtails were *** because he couldn't keep the rear on the ground and was going to get some £2000+ dually. a top ten finish and cruising past many of them on the climbs kinda made up for it all...

"it ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
Indurain said:
We all know that Mental Strength can make huge differences in performance (eg Home vs Away games, choking, etc). There has been a lot of debate about whether saving weight on your frame/wheels, or having deep section carbon rims vs alloy boxed rims, stiff vs flexible frame, Campag vs Shimano, etc really makes a difference in speed. These debates usually end when others drawing on data from sites like analytical cycling which suggests that it doesn't in any huge way, especially in the amateur ranks.

I argue that it could. Wouldn't having all the best equipment and knowing your bike is in top working order mechanically, give you the confidence to know that you have noone or nothing else to blame but yourself for bad performances? And when you have no excuses but yourself aren't you more likely to push a little harder to keep up or perform because you don't want to have to admit to yourself that you just weren't good enough. It's not like you can say as your about to be dropped "if only I had those carbon lightweight wheels, I could keep up". When you can place blame on other things (eg. the wheels), there is a possibility you may not fight as hard as you feel it really isn't your fault. Not as much to fight for vs if it is entirely all your fault.

On the other hand, beating all those show ponies on inferior equipment sure does feel good and does give you a rise in confidence (when in matter of fact you were probably on realitve equal footing to begin with). Vice versa being beaten by someone with no frills clothing on a crappy, dirty bike when you have all the best, really does suck and can probably kill any confidence gains from having the best.

Anyone know of any professional research papers on this? But my theory is that there is a correlation that could make up more time than the improved equipment really caters for. (FYI, I do have a psych degree). All opinions welcome.

'Heavier' is often described as 'inferior' when lighter stuff is really only 'lighter'. Sometimes worse in terms of reliability.

Way to much emphasis on equipment rather than the rider and the ride.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I was reading some of Bradley Wiggans comments. He said that he was 1kg over his race weight and that this makes a difference over a 3week race.

I found that quite interesting, in that he is suggesting that weight does make a difference in stage racing.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Indurain said:
I was reading some of Bradley Wiggans comments. He said that he was 1kg over his race weight and that this makes a difference over a 3week race.

I found that quite interesting, in that he is suggesting that weight does make a difference in stage racing.

Agree that body weight makes a huge difference in month long grand tours. But how many people do you know that are racing GT's at an international level? How are those wheels coming along by the way?

When it comes to equipment, it's not the arrow, .. it's the Indian.