James Clear, Atomic Habits - British Cycling and Marginal Gains
"A simple rule for life and work: Don’t rush, but don’t wait. Thoughtful action."
More than just a clothing brand, we want to inspire others and create a sense of community. If you haven't already, we urge you to read the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. It's a fantastic book with great learning about how to build the right habits. The book is filled with practical steps and examples around building good habits and breaking the bad ones.
One example that stood out for us was of the British cycling team. Between 1908 and 2003, British riders had won just a single gold medal in Olympic games and had never won Tour de France. In 2003, Dave Brailsford joined as the head of British cycling team with a dream to make the team successful in the Olympics.
To make the above possible, he started with a principle called The aggregation of Marginal gains.
"The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together."
Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available.7 Four years later, when the Olympic Games came to London, the Brits raised the bar as they set nine Olympic records and seven world records.
How? We're getting to it.
The future of British Cycling
Brailsford and his coaches began by making small adjustments you might expect from a professional cycling team. They redesigned the bike seats to make them more comfortable and rubbed alcohol on the tires for a better grip. They asked riders to wear electrically heated overshorts to maintain ideal muscle temperature while riding and used biofeedback sensors to monitor how each athlete responded to a particular workout. The team tested various fabrics in a wind tunnel and had their outdoor riders switch to indoor racing suits, which proved to be lighter and more aerodynamic
But they didn’t stop there. Brailsford and his team continued to find 1 percent improvements in overlooked and unexpected areas. They tested different types of massage gels to see which one led to the fastest muscle recovery. They hired a surgeon to teach each rider the best way to wash their hands to reduce the chances of catching a cold. They determined the type of pillow and mattress that led to the best night’s sleep for each rider.
They even painted the inside of the team truck white, which helped them spot little bits of dust that would normally slip by unnoticed but could degrade the performance of the finely tuned bikes. As these and hundreds of other small improvements accumulated, the results came faster than anyone could have imagined.
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, winning a championship, or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.
What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
There's a take home message in there somewhere 😉
You can find out more here: James Clear.
At Ryde, we are a sustainable outdoor brand specialising in cycling and mountain bike outerwear. Explore our collection of eco-friendly apparel designed to enhance your experience while minimising environmental impact.