This month, Kyle Messier, a 31-year-old bike mechanic, won the Big Red Gravel Run, a 100 kilometre bike race that takes place in Harrington, Quebec. While this is an impressive achievement on its own, what makes Kyle’s win truly exceptional is that he had already pedaled more than 650 kilometres to the race site, and a few hours after winning he got back on his bike and pedealed back home to Waterloo.
Messier’s journey from Waterloo to Harrington took him 3.5 days to complete. After winning first place in the rural cycling race, he celebrated with some pizza, slept for a few hours in his tent, and then got started on the 3.5-day journey back home. And it gets even more remarkable still; Kyle was not only completely new to bicycle racing, but he also managed to win the 100-kilometer Big Red Gravel Run while suffering from an abscessed tooth.So what is the secret behind Kyle’s extraordinary success? Well, he apparently used a technique known as active meditation to help him secure this impressive win. This form of meditation can be done while performing a repetitive physical action, which makes it perfect for cycling. When done correctly, the mind will focus only on performing that physical action and nothing else. All other thoughts will disappear and you will feel as though you are “lost in time”.
Kyle has also trained himself to mentally break up the journey into smaller milestones. When he wasn’t focused on meditating, he tried to think only of the things he was looking forward to rather than the negatives. Throughout the race, he didn’t think about the distance or about how much his legs hurt; he just thought about the pizza he was getting at the finish line.
“I was just thinking about getting back to another pizza…It becomes a mind over matter thing, versus just turning the pedals,” he told The Record. “Otherwise, if you’re thinking ‘I’ve got a 100 kilometres to go’, it makes things harder in your head. It’ll eat your soul.”
Despite his impressive achievement, Kyle remains humble, and perhaps even nonchalant. He claims not to know how long the race took him to complete, as he didn’t even bother checking his finish time. Instead, he simply stayed at the finish line to cheer on other riders. “I was definitely happy. It couldn’t have gone any better,” he said. “It was like, ‘OK, cool.’ I did what I came here to do.”
Kyle’s incredible victory highlights the power of having the right mindset. The next time you face a seemingly impossible challenge, try breaking it up into smaller milestones, only focusing on the positive things you have to look forward to. You may not get results that are quite as outstanding as Kyle’s, but it will certainly help!