Monday, September 19, 2011

Slaying the Badger

So I am reading this book about the duel between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault and their lives before. I am not very far in but already I really like the book. It has just talked about how both of these greats of the cycling world grew up and started in the pro peleton. For those who don't know Bernard Hinault was one of the greatest cyclists of all time. He is one of only 5 cyclists to have won all the grand tours, he is the only one to have won each one at least twice. He also won the Tour De France 5 times was second twice and won 28 stages. There are only four other cyclists to have won 5 TdF titles, Lance Armstrong being the only one to win more. Hinault was nick named the Badger early on in his career because of his ferocious attitude during racing. There is one paragraph in this book that peaked my attention and I have read it maybe 100 times, even out loud to my wife.
"The club Hinault joined, Club Olympique Briochin was quite an institution - and still is. Set up in 1947, a cycling section was created in 1951 under the guidance of Robert Le Roux, a former national champion - not as a cyclist, however, but as a gymnast. It was Le Roux who was still in charge two decades later, when Hinault began racing and whom Hinault credits as being his first coach and a huge influence. 'He was both a sound theoretician and practical man' said Hinault. 'He gave me my education and I owe him everything."
(Slaying the Badger pg26)
This was HUGE for me. If you have read my blog you know I am a gymnastics coach and was a gymnast at the U of I. I was not a national champion but I was a Big Ten champ and I was ranked on rings in the top 25 so I was okay. My love for cycling and its amazing culture has had a huge draw for me and I hope someday to be able coach cyclists as well as gymnasts. It is amazing how people don't realize that if you are a good coach you can just about coach anything. Sure I can't tell you how to shoot the best free throw, but give me a little time and I bet I could learn and have some kids doing it pretty well. That's how I see it with cycling. I am putting in a lot of time trying to learn as much as I can about being an endurance athlete, what it takes to be a smart cyclists, and how to run a team. I think the running the team part will be the easiest, it is just putting orders together and calling team meetings and stuff like that. The hard part will be if I ever get my coaching license and start coaching kids or other adults. I have asked some of my teammates if they would let me come up with workouts for them but they do not seam too pumped for that. I think coaching adults would be one of the hardest things to do. Coaching kids is easy comparably. Kids will for the most part do what you say. The don't know if you know what you are doing or just trying to act like you do. You have to be a very good coach to work with adults. My coach is great, and he has never coached anyone before. He was a great amateur cyclist who quit racing when he got a job and started a family. Twelve years later, I met him though work and he has been helping me for the last 2 seasons. I have made huge steps forward in my cycling ability and I have learned a lot from him on how to coach cyclists. I have even been able to use the knowledge I have gained from him to be a better gymnastics coach. I think that we help each other out a lot of times too. We bounce stuff off each other as we both started using power meters at that same time, and didn't know anything about them. That is how I try to work with my athletes in the gym. I try to work with them no just ordering them around like machines. Sometime yes I have to tell them what to do, but I want my kids to be able to think, and you would be amazed at how little they do sometimes.
I guess the biggest reason that I am writing this entry was because I was told recently how my knowledge as a gymnastics coach was meaningless in cycling. There were a lot of other un-nice things said about me at that point as well but no need to go into it. This paragraph was just great for me. It showed me that there have been dudes like me who did what I would like to do. I don't think that I will ever be involved with someone like Bernard Hinault but that's not what interests me. I just want to be a coach.

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