Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two sets of Eleven Lessons to contemplate...

R.S. McNamara's eleven lessons of war
1. Empathize with your enemy
2. Rationality will not save us
3. There's something beyond one's self
4. Maximize efficiency
5. Proportionality as a guideline in war
6. Get the data
7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
8. Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10. Never say never
11. You can't change human nature

Your assignment is to develop your own eleven lessons of bike racing...the assignments is a two-part project.

Part I: Personally develop and list eleven lessons that apply to you and your experiences in bike racing (send to the author)...these lessons should comprise what you have learned during your personal cycling experiences to date or they can be expanded to include lessons that apply to your understanding of the topic at a macro-level. For example one lesson that I have learned in this facet of my so-called “life”: When in doubt take a nap.

Part II: To supplement and further define your eleven lessons, you are required to add commentary to each lesson so as to explain your lesson(s) within the context of your personal cycling history. For example:

C.P. Farrow’s eleven lessons of endurance bike racing (no particular order):

Lesson 1: When in doubt take a nap. I learned this lesson as a climber, but have applied it several times in long distance bike racing as well....It is often the case that small groups of racers/climbers are faced with unexpected circumstances such as the onset of bad weather, sudden illness, or the like and thus talk themselves into quitting the effort in an immediate reactionary response to the unplanned development. Lesson one maintains that one should never quit until he or she has taking at least one hour (more is better if you can spare the time) to lie down and completely relax...then and only then should one consider quitting.

Lesson 2: You are not special, but go for it anywayz. There are lotz of guyz out there that are way faster, way stronger, and more talented than you are or will ever be, so lose the ego. Still race like you are a pro! Never avoid racing with the best even though they will beat you up bad. The chance to race with top guyz is a beautiful thing; seize the opportunity...Don't buy into the age group category trap...You will get slower as you get older...but so what, as long as you are out there doing it--thatz what matters. Race with the fast guyz and do the longer races...But avoid overt, continual drafting unless you are over 50. See Lesson #7

Lesson 3: An expensive bicycle will not make you faster. Fast guyz are fast because of many many factors but the bikes they ride has very little to do with their speed. Get a good bike that will last you a long long time and then focus on the other stuff...

Lesson 4: The two most important components related to bike racing equipment are comfortable shoes and saddle. No explanation needed.

Lesson 5: A man needs a plan. Have a workable, realistic plan of action going into the race. Write it out, contemplate it, and rewrite it making changes. Share it will knowledgeable people to get good feedback, then rewrite it again. The plan should always include a goal. Be able to visualize yourself achieving your goal. Set the goal first and then work backwards to develop a strategy to achieve the goal. Once you have developed a strategy, work on developing tactics that will allow you to achieve the strategy. For example: My goal for the 2012 Arrowhead 2012 is to finish in the top three. If plan goes all horribly wrong? See Lesson #1

Lesson 6: Race in a state of wonderment and awe: Do not lose sight of the fact that during these races you are afforded the amazing opportunity to interact, in an intimate manner, with extraordinary people during extraordinary circumstances. Be polite and appreciative to all involved. Also thank your lucky stars that you are able to do these kinds of things. Never ever forget to thank the race directors.

Lesson 7: Take “calculated risks” plus don’t sit in the whole race and then sprint for the finish. For further explanation see Lesson #2 & Lesson #6.

Lesson 8: Be inclusive in your written race recaps. Readers do not want to learn solely about all the minute details of your sixteenth placing in a local gravel road race. Offer a more compelling and broad rendition including several of the personal dramas that played out during the event. Give credit to where credit is due. People like to see their names on your blog. Give the people what they want.

Lesson 9: Be self-sufficient. Be self-sufficient. Be self-sufficient. Note: Lap races that are designed to encourage massive pit crew efforts (giving obvious advantages to the select few that have such crews) clearly violate this lesson and thus should be avoided.

Lesson 10: Leave the cell phone home lest you be tempted to use it. Mallory, Shackleton, (and the like) never wanted for a cell phone. Leave phone home and follow Lesson #1 should you encounter major problems. Getting into a tough situation and then finding a way out on your own is a good thing... Being super safe is overrated.

Lesson 11: Re-Develop, refine, rethink your own lessons from time to time...thinking about the way you approach bike racing is a productive dynamic exercise. Einstein said (or at least he should have said), “one can never fully understand a complex principle unless he/she takes the time to write about it.”

So...Please free feel to submit any and all of your personal lessons to the author and he may publish in the near future or just put them in the "comments" section of this page


  1. Thanks for sharing your list. I love bike racing, but I've never raced for fear of "doing poorly". In 2012 I want to use your lessons 2 & 5 to finally give it a good try.


    I tried, this may have been my last minute, b grade type writing. Too much work at work today.

  3. Charlie, you did it again. Another swell idea. There you go again, like most of us do....everything relates to biking. -Heath

  4. Excellent report....Will work on mine over the weekend!

    - Cookie, Slender Fungus

  5. love the blog.
    here are mine.
    1. use your friends wisely ,,, they plan to do the same.
    2. thank the race director and buy the sponsors stuff.
    3. you can't win unless you lead at some point.
    4. the best way to get beat is to lead at some point.
    5. selling your raffle winnings or finishing prize on ebay is in bad taste..
    they want you to use it.
    6. taking everyone off their plan is a good plan.
    7. the endurance racing/mullet analogy always holds true ,,,
    all business up front and a party in the back.
    8. winning an endurance race is like wetting your pants in a dark suit ..
    it gives you a warm feeling but few will notice.
    9. you can't plan for the unknown but that is what will get you.
    10. use the competition wisely ,,, they may become your friends
    11. it's good to be the guy who needs to stop and pee.