Weekend Reading: In Support of Ludicrous Goals

If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend finding a showing of “Rising from the Ashes”, an outstanding film about the effort to build a Tour de France-caliber cycling team from Rwanda. One of my 7-Eleven teammates, Jock Boyer, has been working on Project Rwanda for several years, and CTS Coach Dave McIntosh is currently in Rwanda coaching Team Rwanda. (See pictures/posts about his experience at https://www.facebook.com/TheRwandaExperience.) The long-term goal is to have an all-African team in the Tour de France in 6 years. Sounds ambitious? Sounds ludicrous? It’s not.

To give you some perspective, consider the state of cycling in the US in 1980, six years before the 7-Eleven team became the first North American team (Alex Steida is Canadian and Raul Acala is Mexican, so it wasn’t just an American team) to compete in the Tour. In 1980, only a handful of North American riders had raced at the professional level in Europe, and only a handful more than that had raced as amateurs across the pond. If someone had said in 1980 that there would be a North American team in the Tour de France in 6 years, they would have been laughed out of the room.

Before there was a legitimate North American team, there were pioneering riders like Jock Boyer, Mike Neel, and Greg Lemond who ventured to Europe on their own and proved they were just as strong as the Europeans. When the 7-Eleven team joined the professional ranks in Europe in 1985, we had a lot to learn and even more to prove. We made our share of mistakes and endured plenty of bruising defeats, but we also scored our share of wins and impressive showings. We were invited to the Giro d’Italia in 1985, raced the biggest Classics, and then got the invite to the 1986 Tour de France. There’s absolutely no reason that Team Rwanda can’t do the same thing.


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If there’s one thing that being part of the 7-Eleven Team taught me it’s that you don’t get anywhere by focusing on where you are right now. You have to continually focus on where you’re going to be and how you’re going to get there. In the early days of a new business, the start of a long education process, or the beginning of your path to an athletic goal, where you are stinks. You can barely support yourself, nobody gives you any respect, and you’re working terribly hard for what seems like very little reward. A lot of people get stuck there, because they spend too much time focused on where they are and too little on where they’re headed.

Among Team Rwanda’s greatest strengths is that they learned that lesson when the stakes weren’t success vs. failure, but rather life vs. death. Members of the team are survivors of genocide; they know misery on a scale I can’t fathom. Instead of getting stuck, they are looking to the future. Getting to the Tour de France isn’t merely a pathway to fame or wealth, but a mission to inspire their countrymen. When that’s your motivation, there’s no obstacle strong enough to hold you back.

Jock understands the challenges of breaking into the European peloton and overcoming huge odds, and I’m very proud that CTS Coach Dave McIntosh has had the opportunity to work with Jock and the team. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to send additional CTS Coaches to Rwanda, and I encourage everyone to see “Rising from the Ashes” and donate to Team Rwanda.

Closer to home, I want to encourage all athletes to shift your gaze from where you are to where you’re going to be. As the days get shorter and colder, and as the Holidays rapidly approach, you’re going to be challenged to stick with your training. But your 2013 goals are closer than they seem. Trans Andes is in two months! Early-season February races are only 90 days away! Your spring race series is only 6 months from now.  Look forward to move forward.

Have a Great Weekend!
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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