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Are great riders born or made? (edited version)(15 posts)

Are great riders born or made? (edited version)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jun 4, 2002 10:25 AM
>After finding a lot of posts to respond to on my thread below I have decided to cut all connections to it and stop responding. Theres no point. So heres the version with a key difference.

This is a truely great question in my opinion. TJeanloz started it in a post further down saying great sprinters are made out of great cyclists. So I would like to continue this.
I would like to start off by showing a great article on a site peleton found. Here it is:
It discusses how a runner (named Nick... coincidence) began to blame his parents for not having the genetics to go any faster once he began to plateau.

In my humble opinion I feel good riders are born, yes. You either have the genetics or you don't to be a good rider of whatever type from sprinter, to climber, to time trialer, etc. However, to become great you have to take these genetics and use them to make yourself great.

A prime example if this is a very good debate in who is the more talented rider. Lance Armstrong or Jan Ullrich? Many people agree Jan has the edge on Lance. However, if so why has he finished 2nd to Lance 3 years in a row? I feel it is because he gets away with doing minimal ammounts of training just due to the fact he is predominantly made up of slow twitch muscle fibers which at the age of 20-something (low 20's) he won the Tour. However, then he got lazy, bulks up in the winter and gets tormented for it. As for Lance he has always been a good cyclist winning World's in the early 1990's however in my opinion he does have a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers. Hence the reason he pedals at such a high cadence. Not to the point that he's a sprinter but enough that he succeeded at a lot of single day events early in his career where an all out sprint is not good enough to win. However, the cancer made his body waste away and he was turned into a great climber after he found his niche in pedalling at high cadences.

Nick Corcoran
Are great riders born or made? (condensed version)mr_spin
Jun 4, 2002 10:35 AM
In my humble opinion, I am great.

Something about Lance, Ullrich, muscle fibers.
don't be an ...weiwentg
Jun 4, 2002 10:39 AM
look, you've already bashed him. is there a real need to twist the knife and rub salt in? if you don't want to answer the question, don't answer the question. his post does now constitute a valid question, by the way.
Thank you! (nm)PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jun 4, 2002 10:41 AM
Jun 4, 2002 10:40 AM
Its amazing how I ask a question and involve myself. I get a million replies varying from support to flames. Yet I ask a legitimate question and get a smart ass comment like this. In MY opinion I think its the exact same reason people call someone who isn't a good rider on an expensive bike a power.

Sorry had to say I, my, in my opinion to get your attention.

Nick Corcoran
I would say bothweiwentg
Jun 4, 2002 10:41 AM
you have to have the genetics, and you have to have the training. an abundance of one can compensate for a lack in the other. see LFR's post somewhere on the forum. that was a very intelligent post.
if you asked the question about whether leaders are born or made, the answer would be quite different - social psychologists have debunked the 'great person' theory of leadership. good leaders seem to have a certain set of social skills ... but that's a tangent to your question.
Re: I would say bothPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jun 4, 2002 10:47 AM
>you have to have the genetics, and you have to have the training. an abundance of one can compensate for a lack in the other. see LFR's post somewhere on the forum. that was a very intelligent post.

Agreed. The article I pointed to emphasises both of these facets.

>if you asked the question about whether leaders are born or made, the answer would be quite different - social psychologists have debunked the 'great person' theory of leadership. good leaders seem to have a certain set of social skills ... but that's a tangent to your question.

A good tangent. My opinion is personality is partially determined genetically and partially from lifes lessons. Just like dogs have diffent personalities whether they aren't even a fraction as intelligent as we are.

Now to tie my own experience into this. When I hit my head the areas that were affected were personality and memory with complete amnesia for 2 weeks. So I was frustrated and stubborn all the time. Traits that run in my family and were within me when I had amnesia.

Nick Corcoran
The best answer is below: read lonefrontranger's postAllisonHayes
Jun 4, 2002 10:51 AM
Talent vs Skill vs Attitude

lonefrontranger "What, exactly, is meant by the term "talented" . . ." 6/4/02 10:26am
Almost anyone can be made, if they start early enoughRoyGBiv
Jun 4, 2002 11:06 AM
Best example of this MIchael Jordan. Did he not begin throwing a basketball around when he was a kid and by the time he was a youth he had all the fine motor skills down like second nature?
But when he gave baseball a shot in his late 20s/ early 30s, he wasn't quite the wunderkind because he started too late - it was too late to perfect his motor skils, timing, etc.
The same probably can be said for Tiger Woods.
Jun 4, 2002 11:11 AM
My example is gymnasts. If you look at any female who has done gymnastics since an early age whether their build was predetermined to be incredibly fit and flexible or not... they are.

Nick Corcoran
have to disagree hereweiwentg
Jun 4, 2002 11:11 AM
take gymnasts. not all of those who start early - too early, I think - make it to the Olympics. if you don't have the physical talent you can't do it. a large number of people, yes. almost anyone? I don't really think so.
perhaps I'm just sore about starting late, though.
You're not old enough to have figured this out, but, just asbill
Jun 4, 2002 11:35 AM
with any endeavor, some great ones are born, some are made, and most are some combination. There is no one rule.
It all makes perfect sense. One can always find examples of massive natural ability. Some of these massive natural talents use it, some squander it. The former are successful, while the latter experience early success and then -- nothing.
On the other side of things, one always can find examples of mediocre natural ability that, through sheer will and determination, become successful. By any stretch, for example, Madonna is a mediocre musical talent. At best. Yet she is a monumental success at . . . being Madonna. Creating this persona that overtakes the whole g-durn world. That's her talent, which she has in spades.
At the upper levels of athletic endeavor, everyone has some natural talent. God-given physiological characteristics. The best of the best, though, have something else to complete the package. One look at Armstrong's face, and you can see the confidence and determination that carry him up the mountain. All his talent would mean sh*t if not for the rest of the package. He otherwise even may have been a pro cyclist, but he wouldn't be the monumental success he is.
Those other guys at the back of the peloton? I'm sure that a lot of them have incredible physiologies, too, but they're not Armstrong, because they don't have the whole package. I'm sure that a lot of others of them have incredible will and determination, too, but they didn't get the physiology. If they didn't have the will and determination, they'd be good club riders, not pros. As it is, they're all at the back. You need the whole package.
I'll add this. Defining talent is somewhat arbitrary, anyway. If someone has these incredible raw materials but not the rest of the package (which we tend to call character, or will, or determination, but they're really just other talents, aren't they?), do they have talent? or do they just have some good physical characteristics? In some measure, success defines talent.
In all walks of life, you will see this. Some rise to the top seemingly effortlessly. Some work at it until they bleed. Both get there. Both are talented in different ways. The end result, for good or ill, is pretty much the same, both for the successes and for those that never really get it together because they just lack enough of the whole package.
Jun 4, 2002 11:46 AM
Thank you for your post. I agree with it completely.

I would liken it to the symbolism of a vault. Your true capability is whats inside. Then your genetic code is the vault itself. How much it hold is genetically predetermined whether with thick walls and a small interior or thin strong walls with a vast interior. What you need to unlock it is perserverance which is a mix of personality traits such as courage, determination, confidence, etc. And there is no one opening to empty the vault. Only a number of doors and the more PERSERVERANCE you have... the more keys you can make. And hence the more you unlock your true genetic potential.

Nick Corcoran
To be a Pro - Genitics and a lot of hard work... (long)Slowclimber
Jun 4, 2002 12:26 PM
People that says anybody could become a professional cyclist if they work hard enough really don't know a lot about athletics, especially at the upper levels of sports. They may think they know a lot but they really don't.

Using my self as an example. I'm 6' 265 pounds currently, but then I'm also 31 and not super competitive any more. My athletic background includes high school Track & field, Football and wrestling and Collegiate Track & field. I was a good regional collegiate athlete (set our regional record in the hammer) but not great. Had a 455 bench and 600 pound squat at the height of my strength.

My genitic background would keep me out of any thoughts of ever becoming a professional cyclist, maybe track cycling but even there I would probably be too big. The lightest that I've been able to get down to (when healthy) is 215 pounds and that was with a ton of riding and almost starving my self to stay at that weight. When fit my body likes to stay around 230 pounds. There is no way, no how a 6' 215 pound rider is going to even stay with the peleton in any professional level race especially once you hit a hill. I could ride 40 hours a week and not drop below 210 pounds. It just isn't happening.

Many times you hear that professional cyclists happened to fall into cycling. They were not good at any other sport except cycling. This is generally because cycling has a specific body type that excels at the top levels. Look at the pro's closely. They are all small to begin with. They generally are under 170 pounds and tend to top off around 6' (yes there are anomalies (George Hincapi 6'2" - 6'3" and even he is only 175 - 180) but they are very few and far between). Second they tend to be all legs and arms with small bodies. They tend to be endurance oriented to begin with and build on that with work. If you really look at a professional cyclist and their actual dimensions you can see why they wouldn't excel at a lot of other sports.

Also many of the pro's could never work out at all and blow me away on a bike due to their genitic predisposition.

Does this mean that the rest of us are going to be slow and or pack fodder at any level? No. Most people can compensate for their genitics by working hard, they just won't be at the upper levels of the sport. We can all still be fast, but realize that their are limits to our genitic abilities.

Look at it this way. If anybody could become a great cyclist by working hard why don't you see any of these happen?

7 foot tall cyclists? There are good salaries at the top levels of cycling. Why not drop pro basketball and go for cycling? Even if they started at 5 years of age they wouldn't be a good cyclist.

250 pound body builders in the peleton. They have strenght, many have great endurance, they have good agility (many times at least) and hard work is one of the things they do best. Even if they slimmed down they would be terrible cyclists at the pro level.

How about a dwarf? They are very small and can be quite light which would be excellent for climbing. They however have short limbs which would keep them from generating the power they need to be fast on a bike. They do however make great powerlifters.

Essentially though great cyclists have tremendous genitics. They work hard to capatilize on these genitics and can make the pro's if they try hard enough. You have to realize that pro cyclists are going up against others that have similar genitic gifts as they have that are working as hard or harder than they are. Even at these levels there are limits which is why you see some riders become team leaders and others professional domestiques. Trust me if the domestiques could be faster they would be (hence the proliferation of drugs in the pro peleton). But for them they may have reached their genitic potential and can't go any farther than they have reached with out drugs or other help.

Have their been any not so genitically inclined pro cycl
re: Are great riders born or made? (edited version)Soultrain
Jun 4, 2002 8:22 PM
I think that Joe friel said it best in one of his books, now this isn't verbatim,"
The greatest cyclist in the world is probably an overweight sedintary smoker, blessed with an enormous aerobic capacity and a high, slow to fast, twitch muscle fiber ratio.
problem is he will never realize his potential because he never discovered cycling, he may have had sucess with soccer",
who knows? Fact is like has been stated in the posts above, you have to have the whole "package" if you want to be at the top eschelon of our sport. The greatest cyclist that could have ever been most likly never was.
If you have any questions about physiology then just ask and there are several people on this board that are wealthy in their knowledge of sports physiology, and I am sure that they would give you any insight about slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers,(I didn't even know that there different types of each until one fellow answered a post with a very technical explanation.)