FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Garden City Utah
Two weeks ago I flew half way across the country with my bicycle (an entirely painful experience I may share later) to join my brother, brother-in-law, and close friend on a 105-mile ride across three mountain passes. I thoroughly enjoy cycling. For years my favorite version of cycling was mountain biking on single-track trails over stumps, rocks, and roots. I enjoy the climb every bit as much as the descent. It’s only after having purchased a decent road bike two years ago and making a recent foray into the world of triathlon that my interest has expanded to include road cycling. This particular ride would bring my summer total to well over 700 miles.
While I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by world-stage cycling events and personalities, such as the Tour de France and cycling phenom Lance Armstrong, I’ve never followed the sport very closely. In my naiveté, I would often question the need for all that expensive gear and technology or secretly mock the brash colors and tight-fitting clothing. I certainly had my doubts that riding in a pack or “peloton” really had any benefit. Does “drafting,” or riding closely behind another cyclist, really make that big of a difference? After all, until September 12, 2009, I had always ridden alone.
I’m ashamed to admit, after teaching the principles behind The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the past 13 years that I would have been so skeptical about the power of synergy in such a simple and powerful application.
As a group, our collective experience with drafting was mixed. My brother-in-law is a seasoned “roadie” (the affectionate name for road cyclists). He drafts almost once a week with other cyclists in his neighborhood. My good friend had tried it a few times and was eager to draft on a longer ride. My brother and I were first-timers to the art of riding somebody’s back tire. As we began our first and flattest 10-mile segment of the roughly 6-hour tour, we each took turns leading the group, with the point person falling back about every 3 to 4 minutes. The rider in front, or “pole” rider, puts out the same effort required to ride alone. As for everyone else…
What a rush!
I can honestly say, I have been missing out on a lot of cycling synergy. The experience was so real and yet so simple! By my rough, unscientific estimate, each individual expends around 20% less effort to ride as a group than he would while riding alone. The “pull” that each trailing rider experiences in the draft is real and measurable. Sadly, I had even taught the example of geese in flight to illustrate synergy – the same application of aerodynamics – without having tried it myself (riding, rather than flying, of course).
I firmly resolved, at the end of our ride, to not only look for other riders I might join back in the Midwest, but to also look for more creative ways of “drafting” with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family. What mental barriers or incorrect/incomplete paradigms may be preventing me from synergizing in ways that are natural and simple?