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  1. #1
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    Psychology and Pcycling

    There have been some threads here moved aside because of recent legal and press developments.

    This might easily go the same way, but I trust it will not be viewed as topical or relating only to late 2012 events.

    Anyhow. It has been observed by many that the majority of eminent cyclists had unstable childhoods. Absent fathers typify.

    In these circumstances, a 'loner' drive to achieve frequently occurs. Millar and Wiggins typify, as well as a very successful winner in the news now.

    My old professor talked of 'Achievement' motive, the wish to set and exceed self-set targets. (David McClelland)

    He admitted that whilst this motive is shown most strongly in the most successful,

    'Some high achievers are so fixated on finding a shortcut to the goal that they might not be too particular about the means they use to achieve it'

    Just collateral

  2. #2
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I'm in, elaborate
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  3. #3
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Father absence>achievement motivation>success in life/cycling? Sounds pretty sketchy to me. I'll need more evidence.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    >success in life/cycling?

    I'm always suspicious of just what "success" in life is. My definition would be far different than a whole lot of folks.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Sometimes I think we make things too complicated. (This is a huge given my propensity for doing just that.). But we all have luggage, demons, or issues we deal with. How we deal with them is what matters. IMHO, it's better to be driven to win cycling races than to climb a bell tower and start shooting people.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  6. #6
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    Or

    It's better to win cycling races clean than to climb Alpe d'Huez after shooting up.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  7. #7
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    >success in life/cycling?

    I'm always suspicious of just what "success" in life is. My definition would be far different than a whole lot of folks.
    Oh, I agree. Just trying to interpret what the OP's hypothesis was.

    There is a time to resign oneself
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  8. #8
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    Just on-line chat, not a hypothesis

    Mr Donn - no straight line of causation is suggested. However, there are many examples of coincidence of those factors - loners who gain a self of self-worth by setting and beating personal goals on bikes - the texan who wrote about 'becoming more myself the further away I rode', to a championship (triathlon) as a teenager - the Brit whose father went to Hong Kong, the chap with the sideboards, the Italian pirate, the Mennonite. No hypothesis, just coincidence. Clearly, talent is also a dominant factor

    Mr DFox - agree that there are many types of achievement. McClelland used the term in a particular sense. He posited that we all have a combination of 3 'motive drives', to a greater or lesser extent -
    'Achievement Drive' - the need to set and exceed personal targets
    'Affiliation Drive' - the need to make and sustain close personal relationships with others
    'Power and Influence Drive - the need to alter the behaviour of others. (This can be for good or bad, the kind primary school teacher and the brutal dicrator have this drive, but very different values)

    Some have very little of any of these drives, and chairs beers and cake will suffice. Some well rounded personalities have all 3 in abundance.

    The observation is that many of the personalities in the news have hight Achievement (target driven) needs and this dominant drive can be tempted into short cuts

  9. #9
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    On brevets I have lots of time to think, on long brevets I have lots and lots of time to think. And one of the things I often think about is why the hell am I doing this? Particularly at the darkest time when I'm nearly halfway done and it seems I've come so far yet it's so so far to the finish. And yet I keep going, and I do it again another day.

    And you're suggesting it's because my dad was, well, not exactly dad-like? Well now I'm really pissed at him. Or maybe I should thank him.
    What is bicycle touring?
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    Senior Member Astrozombie's Avatar
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    How did you know i ride my bike to get away from my family? What are ya a wizard?

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    >success in life/cycling?

    I'm always suspicious of just what "success" in life is. My definition would be far different than a whole lot of folks.
    Easy. It's more than one Ducati.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    Sometimes I think we make things too complicated. (This is a huge given my propensity for doing just that.). But we all have luggage, demons, or issues we deal with. How we deal with them is what matters.
    My observation is that people almost always make things too complicated. We are taught throughout life to live psychologically in the past and future to the exclusion of the present. Quite ironic since the past and future don't exist. Yet we let our fear of things that happened in the past and things we imagine will happen in the future screw up our present. Life would have been so much easier had I understood this when I was twenty or so.

  13. #13
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wobblyoldgeezer View Post

    ... no straight line of causation is suggested. ....
    I quite agree with that... It is seldom one isolated thing that sets a person's wants and needs and direction.

    But, that being said, losing my dad to an unexpected heart attack when I was 15 certainly changed my wants, needs and direction. Suddenly I was torn from my nice comfortable, cozy little life into one where I realized I would have to fend for myself...

    I can safely say I am a very different person for that experience...

    But, at the same time -- it was not simply losing my dad that changed things. Rather, his passing threw me into an entirely different set of circumstances to which I needed to respond. And, the response was not a simple list of tasks. I was profoundly changed by those circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by wobblyoldgeezer View Post
    'Some high achievers are so fixated on finding a shortcut to the goal that they might not be too particular about the means they use to achieve it'
    But, at the same time, I DO NOT agree that a propensity to cheat always accompanies a high degree of desire to achieve.

    Again, we are shaped by circumstances and, if you live in a culture where cheating is accepted and common, you will be more likely to cheat -- regardless of your desire to achieve.
    Last edited by GeorgeBMac; 10-26-12 at 05:22 AM.
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  14. #14
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    IMHO, it's better to be driven to win cycling races than to climb a bell tower and start shooting people.
    Well, we certainly share one common ground!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  15. #15
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wobblyoldgeezer View Post

    Mr DFox - agree that there are many types of achievement. McClelland used the term in a particular sense. He posited that we all have a combination of 3 'motive drives', to a greater or lesser extent -
    'Achievement Drive' - the need to set and exceed personal targets
    'Affiliation Drive' - the need to make and sustain close personal relationships with others
    'Power and Influence Drive - the need to alter the behaviour of others. (This can be for good or bad, the kind primary school teacher and the brutal dicrator have this drive, but very different values)

    The observation is that many of the personalities in the news have hight Achievement (target driven) needs and this dominant drive can be tempted into short cuts
    Having two sons with profound disabilities has certainly shaped my psychology. I have put and am putting thousands of hours into their "success" in life, and am extremely proud of them for their achievements despite the extreme (almost impossible) odds against them. I consider that the supreme "success" in my life. This has been and is my "contest." Now, I am going through the same types of issues with my wife and her never-ending pain.

    When I first started bicycling seriously, when I was 58, I, too, was driven to some degree to a need for personal accomplishment. Having completed a "Ride the Rockies" (as a personal goal) on a mtn bike only 3 months after I started bicycling, and at age 59, I satisfied whatever need I had in that direction, and have increasingly used bicycling as a form of physical and emotional release and escape and maintaining fitness, along with a lot of other physical activity - swimming, walking, stretching, resistance training. The physical aspect is important to me. The idea that I have to be better than someone in any of these has no value to me, whatsoever. I simply don't care, and compete only against myelf, and then, only when I want to.

    I have no clue how that fits in with your model of drive for achievement, affiliation or power and influence, nor, frankly, do I much care.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 10-26-12 at 06:24 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  16. #16
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    Pop psychology is always a fascinating topic...and ultimately an exercise in futility!
    My current stable:

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  17. #17
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    Now I know the reason I'm not an eminent cyclist.

    Thank you.

    Craig in Indy

  18. #18
    Senior Member Frankfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    Easy. It's more than one Ducati.
    If that's the case, I'm a complete success.

  19. #19
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Karl Popper, check your email. They're trying to contact you.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    >success in life/cycling?

    I'm always suspicious of just what "success" in life is. My definition would be far different than a whole lot of folks.
    +1.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    But, at the same time, I DO NOT agree that a propensity to cheat always accompanies a high degree of desire to achieve.

    Again, we are shaped by circumstances and, if you live in a culture where cheating is accepted and common, you will be more likely to cheat -- regardless of your desire to achieve.
    We are shaped by circumstances, and we cannot plan too far ahead without going crazy with all sorts of complicated what-if scenarios in the back of our minds. Hence, I just keep saying (in the context of our current travels):

    We'll see when we get there.

    We can have a structure to our lives, but the details may all add up to alter that structure along the way. We only have to look at the situations of several 50+ members with their current employment and health.

    As to your first point, rules are there to protect the game. However, successful people always look at the rules and see how they can gain an advantage within the interpretation of the rules. Sometimes, those with less attention to detail (such as the rules... they rely more on heresay and prior practice) consider others who push the envelope to be cheats, when they aren't. Often those creative minds can take the world in an entirely different and better direction, while still within the rules. Then some control-freak will come along and change the rules...

    However, the real cheats are the ones who step entirely outside the rules in a calculated and prolonged manner. They have no clue as to fair play and their pathological narcissism, they needlessly destroy other people's live, businesses and reputations, and ultimately end up being found out as villains.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Speedskater's Avatar
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    Some sports almost require a great deal of parental involvement (think - auto racing, tennis, figure skating and many others). So without family support and finances kids will drift to school team sports and low budget sports like track and bikes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by wobblyoldgeezer View Post
    Anyhow. It has been observed by many that the majority of eminent cyclists had unstable childhoods. Absent fathers typify.
    It has? A few anecdotal cases doesn't make much of a case. I'm not sure why cycling would be any different than other sports and I can think of many examples of successful athletes who had very stable and supportive families. I'd want to see a little more data before I jumped to any conclusions. I don't see any evidence that the 'achievement motive' is any more prevalent in children from broken families.

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