The manager of the Italian national team explains the importance of taking care of your health, safety, self-awareness and objectivity, and finding the right balance for amateur cyclists.
This is an issue which frequently comes up when speaking with non-professional athletes for whom cycling is their passion and provides a nice distraction from daily life. It is also a concept that I have always sought to promote during my live-television commentaries for Rai, taking advantage of access to a vast audience.
Remember that, every time you take out your bike and get ready to cycle, or any time you think about how to best organize your next bike ride with respect to your other daily commitments: for you, cycling is a hobby, not a job!
This may seem like a banal idea, but it involves a kaleidoscope of concepts that in my opinion should lay at the basis of non-professional sports.
The first concept is health: you should never forget that practicing sports should be a precious source of wellbeing and not a cause of stress. Our days are filled with enough obligations and we should not turn sport into another one of these “categorical imperatives”.
The second concept is safety: there is no fun without physical integrity! What does this mean in a nutshell? It means that, before starting any training program, you should make sure that you are in good health by taking a medal exam. It also means that you should not take risks, be distracted or underestimate dangers when cycling on roads, in traffic or when you set off on an improbable steep and fast descent during your ride.
The third concept is self-awareness and objectivity: you are not a professional, cycling does not pay your rent. Your performance on the bike is not a measure of your status among friends and acquaintances.
The fourth concept is the notion of the “right balance”: if cycling is starting to feel like a job or becoming an obsession, remember that it will be doomed in the long run. There can be no sense of duty when you do something for “recreation”. Otherwise you will quickly tire and cycling will become just another burden on top of those already brought on by daily life. Enjoy the sport to its fullest and try not to give in to feelings of obligation.