Don't Expend Your Energy Going Downhill.

Last Update: July 15, 2020

I have been out of the bike riding "loop" for quite some time, but in recent months I bought myself a hybrid bike (in between a road bike, and a mountain bike) and have been getting out riding on it quite a bit. I have noticed something as I have been riding and there are a lot of parallels between biking and business.

But this only happened because of my inquisitive mind. As I began to ride up hills, flat areas, and down hills, I started to wonder what the best approach to riding these was to maximize overall speed, while managing my heart rate and the overall load on my body. I figured that people that ride in Triathlons or the Tour De France must have some sort of strategy when they approach a long distance ride and how to manage varying includes.

One of the main ones I want to discuss is how certain riders handle hills and the interesting parallels between this and business. Should you peddle going downhill? Should you save energy? When is the best time to expend energy? Are there differences between a shorter ride and a longer endurance ride, and how should these be handled differently.

These are some topics that I have investigated and that I want to discuss here. If you can appreciate a strategic approach to riding a bike for long distances, you are going to be able to comprehend how to build a long term business. I think the parallels to business and ultimately how you can apply these insights into your business and your path to success moving forward are uncanny.

Let's get rolling (no pun intended lol)...

Should You Peddle Going Downhill?

On my typical ride, it starts with a big downhill. A nice way to start a ride, but it would also be a nice way to finish a ride (instead of having to chug back up that hill). I don't look forward to a big hill at the end of a bigger ride!

So if you were to head out riding your bike for an hour or two, would you be inclined to start off your ride peddling like crazy in your lowest gear when you went down the first incline? Well, that might seem like a natural way to generate more speed and get off to a good start, but at what cost? Is that good "value" in terms of the energy you will be expending?

These are answers that I wanted to find out. So I spent some time researching them.

As science indicates, as you go down hill your speed naturally increases on a linear pattern. A steep decline, you go faster and you shouldn't need to pedal at all to gain maximum speed. A moderate decline, you can pedal easy to establish your desired max speed, and a shallow decline you can pedal steady to maintain speed.

If you want to go faster than coasting allows down big hills, it is going to cost you dearly in the long run in terms of your energy expenditure. The % increase of speed gains versus energy used is not nearly that of investing this energy powering through inclines. More on that in the next section as I break it down with a simple formula.

What is the correlation between "hill" management when riding a bike, and your business?

When business is going really well and you have tailwinds pushing your business, let it happen. You are still operating the bike, and you are coasting, but you are not expending energy that can be used down the road when it is needed (and you may be facing headwinds).

The longer you want to be in business, the more focused that you are going to have to be on maintaining and sustaining drive and energy. You don't want to run out of energy treating it like a sprint and trying to peddle too hard down hill, the reward simply will not be there. Peddle with consistency and maintain a good pace at ALL times, and even more so when you have an uphill ahead.

Pushing Your Limits is All About Timing

As mentioned and as neurotic as it sounds, I have done a great deal of research on how to most appropriately ride my bike, because like business, I want to be as efficient as possible and not waste energy in the wrong places. Many people simply don't think of this, but it can have a huge impact on your overall performance.

I can tell you, even after running a full time business online for the last 18 years, I still feel there is an incredible amount of waste in my day. I am constantly trying to optimize my day, make things more efficient, and remove the expenditure of energies that are simply not paying long term dividends in the race.

It is these small, seemingly insignificant tasks in business that really add up and can slow down progress.

As I was doing some research, I cam across a really interesting concept from an exercise physiologist by the name of Alan Couzens. He was also a triathlon coach and when training Ironman athletes, he tried to create a formula for success for his competitors he was training.

He created a set of rules called the "50-40-30-20-10 RULE". This set of rules indicates when you should exert energy and at how much at what speed, and when you should be minimizing your energy usage when riding a bike.

Below is the chart outlining how this works.

Scientifically speaking, the reason you should not push as hard as your speed increases is that you are starting to push against wind resistance. To move from 24 to 30MPH when going downhill, takes much more effort than going from 8MPH to 10MPH. This is the same 25% increase, but you are getting more value when increasing the exertion through the hilly areas of a ride.

Next, I want to lead into the business application of this ideology with this quote...

"Racers in all sports, car, motorcycling, bicycling, have learned that to go faster overall you have to go faster in the slower sections of the course, where you make up the most time. As they say, everyone can ride (drive) fast in the fast sections, it takes more skill/power to ride (drive) fast in the slow sections."

And this makes complete sense in terms of business. Anyone is good at going downhill in business. You are competitors are good at it, and newcomers to business are also good at that. It is the slow sections and when times get tough (when you reach the hills) when you separate the winners from the losers.

However, if you have wasted unnecessary energy through the flat or downhill parts, you are going to have far less energy to put towards the uphill component, or in business, the moment when you start to have headwinds.

One thing I have certainly learned over the years is that business is not always smooth sailing. Quite the contrary. There are headwinds and problems that need to be overcome on almost a daily basis, and those that meet this level of energy, are those that will come out on top.

Ultimately, This is a Competition.

Don't ever forget that you are living in an online world where you are competing with just yourself. There are other marketers trying to take your traffic, and potential sales and business away from you. There are competitors that are trying to "outwork" you. There are competitors wasting too much energy on the flat terrain and peddling downhill, but will have nothing left in their tank when they hit the big hills.

Outsmart and beat out your competition by understanding and applying the 50-40-30-20-10 rule to your business.

Most of them though are going to be peddling downhill, even at the start of the race. If you can maintain that 30km hour pace through the course of a longer race (which business is, you are going to experience much more success and a tenacity in business where you can sustain energy for many years to come.

Now get out there and get peddling in your business...but only at the appropriate time. :)

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Ervido1 Premium
Hey Kyle
Thanks for the analogy, I hadn't really considered that but now that you mention it, if you step back and take a look at life you can see a lot of them. Along the same lines as not being able to see the forest for the trees. A different perspective is needed at times and now appears to be one of them. Thanks again
Kiranoppa Premium
I love metaphors, so I loved this post. I had never heard of the 50-40-30-20-10 rule before. But it makes sense, because I don't peddle when riding a bicycle downhill, and even when driving a car downhill you can ease on the gas pedal a bit.

I have less energy than an average person, so it's especially important to me not to burn out myself. The bicycle analogy will hopefully help me remember this in the business world too.
AdedayoA1 Premium
Thanks Kyle. The race of life.....competing with myself inside out.....I'm not very good at analysing myself. I must admit though, i have taken too long a break.
When i was younger i played netball(a bit like basketball). We would play 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. After each quarter have about a 2minute break, then go back onto the court and 'kill it', not even slowing down in the last quarter of the match!
I need to maintain that consistent energy at a good pace, like running a marathon race or like you said peddling!
Thank you! 😊
Kyle Premium
The downhill is the 2 minute break you got in netball. It is required to muscle up for the 4th quarter. The same goes for business, there will be hard spots, their will be easy spots, and there will be level ground that simply require consistency.

If you remain pushing forward during all of it and take the breaks appropriately to set up for the harder runs, then you are going to be in good shape in the business world!
AFroberg1 Premium
Thank you Kyle for this very valuable information. As a newbie, there comes a time when I don't know if I am going downhill or upward, or even standing still :0) Like when taking the elevator to the 99th flour of a high building, there comes a time when one does not know if one is going upward or downward. But numbers help one understand which way one is moving.
When one becomes a part of the movement, one needs something outside of the movement to help him understand which way one is moving. We experience this, actually every day. The earth is moving with a speed of 1000 miles per hour, but we don't conceive of it, because we are a part of the movement of the earth. But if we look at objects out of the earth, like stars,moon, and sun, it appears to us that the objects move from east to west. Which indicates that the earth is moving, but we don't even feel it.
That is why the information that you presented in this blog is valuable.As an experienced entrepreneur in business online, you are teaching how to to move forward with our business, how to save energy and how to reach our goals in a steady manner.
While reading your blog, I was also reminded of Kenny Rogers song (The Gambler):

"If you're gonna play the game, boy,
You gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealing's done.

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep.

Thank you again for this important blog. And looking to you to give us direction and the pace with which we should move forward with our businesses.
Kyle Premium
Classic song indeed and one that I think we are all aware of! Love it!

Thanks for chiming in here Ahmed. ;)
Shativo Premium
Hi Kyle,
Very interesting post and metaphor. All this makes sense because starting a business, we took up a challenge or participated in a competition where what matters is having a sense of timing and being persistent. Of course, in this condition, going faster and stronger when others relax or slow down makes the difference. Thank you for sharing.