Drafting On The Road And In Life

Tour_de_france_2005_8th_stage_olr_02A few weeks, a tired bike rider pulled alongside (close by) me and said, “Thanks, man. I’m not sure I could have made it without your help.”

He and I had been riding into a strong wind coming from the ocean. He had been struggling (having great difficulty) in the wind and was riding very slowly. But when I passed (went around) him, he was able to move in close behind me and begin drafting (following close so I could protect him from the wind). For the next two or three miles I pulled (rode in front) and he drafted. Together we made it.

Bike riders draft whenever we can. It saves energy and helps us ride faster and farther than we could by ourselves. And when we draft behind a better rider, we often discover that we can ride faster and farther than we had before or thought we could.

Drafting works in life, too. There are people who “pull” us along – encourage, inspire (make us confident and eager to do something), and help us accomplish things that we had never thought possible.

Jens Voigt has done that for many people. Jens, who comes from Germany, was a professional bicycle rider for 17 years. He spent a lot of time in the U.S. training (preparing) and racing with the team sponsored (supported financially) by Trek, an American bicycle company. To honor (show appreciation to) his many American fans, he made the U.S. Pro Challenge in Colorado two weeks ago the last race of his long career.

Fans love Jens for his aggressive (ready to attack) riding and his friendly and funny way with people. He would tell you that he’s just a common, everyday guy who works hard at what he does. But when you watch him and listen to him, you soon discover the personality (the kind of person he is) and practical way of looking at life that have inspired and encouraged so many people. Let me give you some examples.

Jens is one of the best all-around (having many abilities) riders and a valuable team member. He says “I’m not a sprinter. I’m not a time-trialer. I’m not a climber. But what I can do is pedal for a long time. I’d rather be a sprinter. But it wasn’t given to me. I’ve got to work with what I have.”

You would frequently find Jens in a breakaway – one rider or a small group of riders who breaks away from (suddenly moves ahead of) the peloton, the main group of riders. Riders who break away don’t often win, but Jens says that trying is what’s important. “If you go [with a breakaway], you can win or not win. If you don’t go for it (try), you definitely won’t win.”

Riding alone on a breakaway is one of the most difficult things a rider can do. It demands (requires) extraordinary (more than usual) physical and mental strength. Jens has the determination (mental strength), and when his body begs him to stop, he replies – using his most famous words – “Shut up legs! Shut up body! Do what I tell you!”

If you’d like to get a brief taste of Jens, listen to this short interview before his last race at the U.S. Pro Challenge in Colorado.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Drafting On The Road And In Life

  1. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    I loved this stoty. It reminds me the time I was young and used to ride for hours without get tired. The bike I rode my father’s, a tall one, my legs weren’t long enough to reach the pedals withouf go out of the ceiling. I miss that time. I never went to a competition. Just me and the road, the wind. Who knows one day I will be able to do the same again.

  2. Dent says:

    Thanks a lot dear warren, it was interesting article! I think Jens is great bicyclist and I hope he’ll be successful.
    It seems Jeff’s allergy become better fortunately but not very well. I hope he becomes healthy as soon as possible.
    Dear Jeff I hope you read my comment . In my opinion you are wonderful person , I learned a lot of things from you beside learning english.
    Actually in my previous semester in university I had a physiology professor that I loved him very much also I love him right now.
    He was good-nature person like you.
    I think good professors are very similar to each other and similarity of them is being honest person.
    I hope you’ll be success in whole parts of your life and we learn a lot if things from you in very long future.

    Best regards

  3. Dan says:

    Hi everyone.

    Nice story, enjoyable and funny interview.

    I like his frankness. He looks like a very practical guy and a good father.

    Thank you Warren for helping out that guy that was “sucking at your back wheel”. I also appreciate the fact that he said thanks.


  4. Genji says:

    Hi, Warren.
    I believe that and you deserb to say ” Drafting works in life too, and helps us accomplish things we had never thought possible.”
    Enjoy a rider, thank you for a nice story.

  5. Betty says:

    Thank you Dear Warren, this is such a great article.

    I guessed the author of this article was you when I saw the picture. And I was right.

    I have learned a lot of new words relating to cycling here. It’s the first time that I learn so much English terms about one sport.

    The way you introduce your own cycling and then this successful young man Jens Voigt is beautiful. I am really touched.

    Hopefully there are more peaceful and beautiful events like these in the world.

    Many thanks again Warren.

    See you again soon in here.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  6. Hilario says:

    Rear wheel sucking in cyclist professional competition is as well a non-written form of cooperation and collaboration, even among rivals in a race. Cases are normally countering bad weather, bartering puntual aid with occasional allies and other situations, must show a real fair-play in doing this give and take support practice. It is a crucial aspect in this team sport, absolutely strenuous in where only one wins. Bad behaviour while pulling inside the peloton is not easy to spot or to prove after finishing the race. Photographs as visual testimonies are said to be valued much more than thousands of words. For instance, a cyclist in a hard struggling while they were climbing a high slope was caught by a photographer while he was grabbing from rear the bike saddle of his rival, in order to slightly retain him as he was pulling hard, moving forward and attacking straightly. Needless to say that as part of that non-written clauses, there are the rules for account adjustments that are asked for in case that a cyclist breaks the fair rules, and sometimes there has been much more than words among them when they launder dirty robes inside of the cyclist family. The great Spanish cyclist Federico Bahamontes, who probably is the all-times-best as time trial cyclist racer and mountain scaler, was famous in his times for having administered his six minutes of time advantage during a Tour of France, by eating an ice cream at an ice cream stall after scoring mountain points, and before continuing pulling to win the race. The tale of the icecream came out after a couple of days and he simply said to sport journalists nothing more that understandably enough, he was thirsty. The advantage of “Fede” was so long that moving cameramen had no material time for being there and shooting a visual testimony as a prove of a real story.

  7. Betty says:

    Sorry mistake:

    “It’s the first time that I learn so much English terms about one sport.”
    Should read as:
    “It’s the first time that I learn so many English terms about one sport.”

    Many thanks.
    Betty 🙂

  8. Dan says:

    Me again.

    I do not know you guys, but at the moment (not that I ever did) I am not personally drafting or pulling anyone. I am riding alone.
    Does that make me a breakaway? I guess it does.

    I get inspired here and there from someone’s video, or interview. A radio show I find inspiring is Storycorps.
    Stories of everyday people.

    I also get inspired/moved by animals.

    If we all were riders, I would probably begin drafting on the back wheel of our dear Betty. She is older than me and I would to let her leading the way.
    Sorry Betty, I hope I do not make you feel uncomfortable too much when I worship you 🙂 like this.


  9. sara says:

    thanks Dea Warren,it was something really great to read.thanks again.

  10. Richard says:

    story that tells about solidarity in a hard and demanding sVery nice port .But also a big deal of generosity and dedication that gives us an example to apply all together leaving our personal and egocentric interest .
    I like this sport because it’s really overwelming and aesthetic .Nature and human effort and overcoming , abeautiful combination .

  11. Tania says:

    Hi! Drafting on the rode and in life…
    I just know the phrase “draft contract”. Excellent example to understand the meaning of “drafting”.
    “Drafting works in life , too.”
    I don’t know if we can use “drafting” when we climb mountains.
    I always need of “drafting” when I climb mountains.
    When I feel that I can’t climb there is always someone who says “It’s easy. You can do it.”

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! I always wanted to see a cave. I was the last in the group.
    It was dark, wet, slippery, a difficult climbing, and nobody to tell me “It’s easy. Don’t be afraid. You can do it.”
    So I gave up. I regret and today.
    There are things in our life that never meet again.
    A drafting in our life? I need a drafting.

Comments are closed.