Rich here.

Two weeks ago I got to experience something that wasn’t on the bucket list because it was so over the top I lacked the creativity to even think of putting it on the bucket list.

I’ve been a cycling fan for a while now. Not only is it one of the three disciplines of triathlon, but I quite enjoy cycling for its own sake. As with tri, it’s one of the only sports out there where you can not only do what the pros do, but sometimes participate in the same events with them. You might run into a pro football player at a bar or restaurant, but it isn’t uncommon to see a pro rider, runner, or triathlete riding the same Sunday route as you, or even setting up in the same start/transition area for a race.

Earlier this year Barracuda networks started sponsoring the Garmin-Sliptream team (for a short time it was Garmin-Barracuda, and now it’s Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda). I made a joke to @petermanmc about needing analyst support for the Tour de France, and something like 6 months later I found myself flying out to France for a speaking gig… and a little bike riding.

I won’t go into the details of what I did outside the speaking part, but suffice it to say I got a fair bit of road time and caught the ends of a few stages. It was an unbelievable experience that even the Barracuda folks (especially a fellow cyclist from the Cuda exec team) didn’t expect.

One of the bonuses was getting to meet some of the team and the directors. It really showed me what it takes to play at the absolute top of the game in one of the most popular sports on the planet (the TdF is the single biggest annual sporting event).

For example, during a dinner after the race about half the team was also lined up for the Olympics. We heard the Sky team (mostly UK riders) all hopped on a plane mere hours after winning the Tour so they could continue training. None of the Garmin riders competing in the Olympics had as much as a single celebratory drink as far as I could tell. After three weeks of racing some of the hardest rides out there, they didn’t really take one night off.

Earlier in the day, watching the finish to the Tour, I was talking with one of the development team riders who is likely to move up to the full pro team soon.

Me: “Have you ever seen the Tour before?” Him: “Nope, it’s my first time. Pretty awesome.” Me: “Does it inspire you to train harder?” Him: “No. I always train harder.”

That was right up there with one of the pros who told me he doesn’t understand all the attention the Tour gets. To him, it’s just another race on the schedule. “We’ll be riding these same stages in a few months and no one will be out there”.

That’s the difference between those at the top of the game, and those who wonder why they can’t move up. It doesn’t matter if it’s security, cycling, or whatever else you are into. Only those with a fusion reactor of internal motivation, mixed with a helping of natural talent, topped off with countless hours of effective training and practice, have any chance of winning. And trust me, there are always winners and losers.

I’d like to think I’m as good at my job as those cyclists are at theirs. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, but the day I start thinking I get to do things like snag a speaking gig at the Tour de France because of who I am or where I work, rather than how well I do what I do, is the day someone else gets to go.

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  • Rich presented at Black Hat and Defcon, but we have otherwise been out of the media.

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Blog Comment of the Week

Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to Alan, in response to Incite 8/1/2012: Media Angst.

We are waiting for someone to push the blond interviewer who appears after every swimming event into the pool. Now, that would be a gold medal performance!

I think we all know who he is referring to, even if you didn’t read the post.