Lance Armstrong's Secret? My Reality. (Blog #4)

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2009_milan-san-remo_peloton.jpg

The Tour de France is known for its brutal stages, killer climbs, and lightning speeds, but how do these mere mortals accomplish such feats of raw speed and determination? Now drafting has a considerable hand in these mythological accomplishments, however psychology suggests the presence of a phenomenon I also experience every time I get in the saddle among friends and family.

I pride myself on my bike's 2,200+ miles ridden in the last 2 summers, but this was not all my own self-generated will power that has allowed me to ride such distances. Social facilitation is ever present in the sport of bike racing and long distance riding. The mere presence of other riders enhances my own performance while I reciprocally enhance theirs. Alone, on a good day I can average around 17.5 mph for a 25 mi ride. With one or two other people, even without drafting, I consistently average 18-19 mph (it may seem like an insignificant difference, however this is the difference between losing and destroying your competition in a long distance ride). Riding in a pack up 200+ people with drafting has brought my average even up to 25 mph for an equivalent ride.

It is no secret. Social facilitation, even non-verbal urging of one another to compete to our very best ability, and a little friendly competition, has a considerable effect on my riding. I have no doubt that this affects Lance's performance as well, whether or not he knows it. The secret of the peloton's blistering speeds is surely seeded in this phenomenon.

4 Comments

Social facilitation in the Tour de France seems to be a huge factor with thousands of people lined up along streets anxiously waiting to see who will win. You set the record straight for your performances as a bike racer that it pushes you to your limit. Although it seems to work for bike racers, social facilitation does not seem to work for all sports such as baseball where one needs to be calm to perform at a higher level in front of thousands of people. But, any sport that seems to have a large emphasis on speed and endurance must be greatly effected by social facilitation. Great article and way to connect it to your life.

That's awesome, I can't even imagine doing any kind of intense bike competition. I think social facilitation plays a huge part in our lives in general - anyone is going to do better if there are people cheering them on or providing competition. I know that I personally am a lot more motivated to do anything difficult when someone else is by my side in either support or competition. Kudos!

Nice personal story! I agree that often times competing against others can increase an individuals results (ie - faster time), however it would be interesting to examine the point at which point social interaction begins to hinder someones performance. An example would be how a a placekicker can be nearly perfect in practice, but when put in front of thousands of people nerves cause them to miss it. While the magnitude of the event could cause a difference in social change, a further question could be why certain people strive under social conditions, while others are hindered.

Social facilitation is definitely a major flaw of our society because it inhibits growth and does not allow us to reach our full potential. However, when someone breaks free from this, by possibly earning a new record, the bar of excellence gets reset and acts as a common goal. I definitely believe this includes biking races and wonder if we pushed our potential if it would wear us out too much

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This page contains a single entry by riesx079 published on April 25, 2012 9:16 AM.

Talking to with a child's limited world was the previous entry in this blog.

My Takeaway From Psychology is the next entry in this blog.

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