Passing the Gringo

My friend Shawn passed this link on to me, and I think it makes for a great rainy day post. It’s pouring outside today.

Here’s the story:

After reading the passage, please take a moment to read my questions below.

Throughout the Tour de France, a Colombian rider on the Kelme – Costa Blanca Team, Santiago Botero, has been keeping a diary in a newspaper. Each day the newspaper published his diary from the previous day. Unfortunately, the only diary entry I have seen appeared in this past Sunday’s edition, however, it was worth the read.

“There I am all alone with my bike. I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on, what most riders consider, the third worst mountain stage on the tour. I say ‘most riders’ because I do not fear mountains.

After all, our country has nothing but mountains. I train year-round in the mountains. I am the national champion from a country that has nothing but mountains. I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider. Pantani, one of my rival climbers, and the Gringo Armstrong are in the Peleton about five minutes behind me. I am climbing on such a steep portion of the mountain that if I were to stop pedaling, I would fall backward. Even for a world-class climber, this is a painful and slow process. I am in my upright position pedaling at a steady pace. I’m willing myself to finish this climb so I can conserve my energy for the final climb of the day. The Kelme team leader radios to me that the Gringo has left the Peleton by himself and that they can no longer see him.

I recall thinking ‘the Gringo cannot catch me by himself‘. A short time later, I hear the gears on another bicycle. Within seconds, the Gringo is next to me – riding in the seated position, smiling at me. He was only next to me for a few seconds and he said nothing – he only smiled and then proceeded up the mountain as if he were pedaling downhill. For the next several minutes, I could only think of one thing – his smile. His smile told me everything. I kept thinking that surely he is in as much agony as I am. Hopefully he is struggling up the mountain as much as I am, and he only sat down to pass me to discourage me. He can’t be playing games with me. Not possible. The truth is that his smile said everything that his lips did not. His smile said to me, “I was training while you were sleeping, Santiago”. It also said, “I won this tour four months ago, while you were deciding what bike frame to use in the tour. I trained harder than you did, Santiago. I don’t know if I am better than you, but I have outworked you and right now, you cannot do anything about it. Enjoy your ride, Santiago. See you in Paris.”

Obviously, the Gringo did not state any of this, but his smile did dispel a bad rumor among the riders on the tour. The rumor that surfaced as we began the Prologue several days ago told us that the Gringo had gotten soft. His wife had given birth to his first child, and he had won the most difficult race in the world.  He had no desire to race or to win. I imagine that his smile turned to laughter once he was far enough away not to embarrass me. The Gringo has class, but if he heard the rumors, he probably laughed all the way to Paris. He is a great champion. I must train harder. I am not content to be just a great climber. I want to be the best.

I learned much from the Gringo while climbing the mountains. I will never forget the helpless feeling I had yesterday. If I ever become an international champion, I will always remember the lesson the Gringo taught me.

The original post and story can be found here.

Here are some questions for you to think about:

How are you training in your life?

Are you training hard enough?

Are you focusing on the right areas of self-improvement? Is it sufficient to be really good at one skill, but lacking in others?

As a business owner, do you believe you’re unbeatable in certain areas of your business? Are you working to improve the weaker areas?

And if you’re not, are you prepared to let the Gringo pass you?

Of course, there’s always a flip-side to these posts….

Instead of training to avoid being passed, you could train to be the smiling Gringo.