The Hidden Motor – The Psychology of Cycling is a book written by Martijn Veltkamp. Although aimed at connoisseurs of cycling, I think almost anyone interested in sports psychology and performance will find value. Here's my review.
Cycling Book Review
I should start this book review of The Hidden Motor, by mentioning that I don't really consider myself a cyclist. This might seem a strange statement coming from someone who has cycled over 40,000 kms around the world, but it's true! I couldn't tell you what teams are racing in the Tour de France, who won the Vuelta in 2005, or even what bikes they ride.
This isn't why I find the book interesting though. I find it interesting because it explains what goes through a cyclists mind in different scenarios, and just how that can effect performance. Aspects of this can be applied to any sport. For me though, it was interesting to see how the different scenarios compared to my own experiences of solo bicycle touring.
The Hidden Motor
The title of the book is obviously quite cleverly chosen. A cyclist who outperforms their peers is often accused of having a ‘hidden motor'. In the past, this might have been to do with doping. Nowadays, it is to do with mechanical doping. The Hidden Motor in terms of this book however, focuses on the mind.
The author Martijn Veltkamp is a psychologist who specialises in motivation and behaviour. He has put together a book which will appeal to cyclists of all abilities, from amateurs to pros. Describing different scenarios experienced by both team and solo cyclists, he asks and then answers a number of questions. Why is it harder to cycle alone than as a group? Why does a lead group of 5 cyclists work better than 15? How can team spirit improve a group's performance?
The Psychology of Cycling
The Hidden Motor is broken down into a prologue, and 13 chapters. Each one covers different aspects of cycling, although the observations and lessons learned can easily be applied to other sports and areas of life. I found the chapters on Leadership, Motivation, Setting Goals, and Willpower to be the most interesting. Other people might find how the dynamics between certain cycling teams may have affected their performance more appealing.
Although the Hidden Motor is just 170 pages in length, this is not the sort of book you are going to read in one sitting. In fact, even if you can get through one chapter in a sitting, I suggest taking some time out to think about what you have read. It's also the sort of book you can keep going back to over the years, as you will find new things that might be relevant.
Although I am writing this review of the Hidden Motor in October, and hate to say the word ‘Christmas' so early. Well, you can see where I am going with this. It would make an ideal Christmas present for a cycling enthusiast. It's around the 12 pound mark, and available through Amazon. I've put a link to the book below.