Joe Dombrowski, another American Cossins prevails upon to explain the sport, further undermines his premise that bicycle racing is a cerebral endeavor. He says, “A lot of great bike riders are kinda stupid. You know, having nothing going on up there, just primal instinct.” When Cossins asks Van Garderen if he agreed, he laughed and said, “I think some of the best cyclists in the peloton aren’t very intelligent and I reckon that’s often to their advantage.”
A racing friend who knew I was reading this book, whose subtitle is “Cycling’s top minds reveal the road to victory,” said that as far as he was concerned the largest single factor to one’s success is the “size of his balls.” Cossins doesn’t say that, but he does dwell considerably on one’s ability to suffer, which could be related to machismo. David Millar says it is better to dish out the suffering, setting the pace, than to have it dictated, being in arrears trying to keep up and wondering how much longer one can take it. Van Garderen recommends that one try to pass the pain one is feeling on to others, to “make them suffer more than you are.” Bradley Wiggins simply advises, “Just try and soak up the pain, not show it.” There’s no secret to success here, just ploys to endure, getting into “the mind set of suffering,” as Van Garderen phrases it.