Preparation is the key to success

Written by David Barr on .

“I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights.” Muhammad Ali

In less than a week Dave Barr will set out to achieve his latest goal. To participate in the challenging Haute Route. A seven day race through the French Pyrenees from the west coast of France to Toulouse. Following in the tracks of the Tour de France, the race will see riders conquer over 20,000 metres of elevation during 800 kilometres of racing. I talked to Dave before he embarked on this adventure.

“The important thing is the preparation. Doing the little things on a day to day basis that help you to achieve the long term goal.”

What drove you to sign up?

With the beautiful scenery, local mountains and ever expanding bike routes, BC’s lower mainland is a great place for road cycling. Dave took up the sport a few years ago and reached a plateau in his abilities. “I needed a goal. It’s no good doing the same rides day in, day out and not having a reason to improve.”

How have you been preparing?

Dave is not new to endurance event training. He has completed the Knee Knacker, a 50 kilometre, three peak ultra-marathon on Vancouver’s North Shore, three times so he knew the basic building blocks of what’s required.

“With aggressive goals you have to be focused and break them down into achievable components.” Dave determined what it would take to participate and put together a methodical, well thought out plan. During those long, cold rides in January and February it helped to know that they were part of a program.

After months in the gym and on the road Dave he is exactly where he aimed to be. “I feel ready. The fitness is there, it’s now a matter of staying well-rested.”

Are there parallels to investing?

“If you can call managing mutual funds in the current environment an endurance sport then definitely! In cycling the race or event is the ultimate goal, whereas the goal in investing is to generate strong returns which you do by making better decisions. So, just as each training session is a small building block towards achieving those cycling goals, every press release, annual report, book and news item I read are the building blocks on which we make investing decisions in the future. A lot of what we read may have no direct actionable outcome on the day, but it can be the foundation for an investment decision in the future.

When a stock we are following sells off dramatically, we can make an informed decision quickly, drawing on our knowledge of the business, based on our previous work. Similarly, I know I am prepared for this road race, and on the day, at the bottom of that 17 kilometre summit, that knowledge will carry me as far as my fitness.”

How does training complement your work schedule?

“Investing is what I think about almost all the time, and I read a lot – news, research, reports and books. Then when I’m out on the bike, cycling to work or on my weekend rides, I can process everything that I’ve consumed. I’m in a completely different environment and headspace and I can start to connect the dots, build mental models and look at things differently. Cycling has sparked so many ideas.”

What does success look like for you?

Dave and the team of four other Pender Racing riders will complete the race and reach Toulouse after the longest stage, 169 kilometres in the saddle. “During this race I will do the highest climb and ride the longest single ride I’ve ever done, not to mention cycling seven straight days in a row. So for me just completing the race will be a massive achievement. But I will be stretching myself to the limits of endurance and ability, so sticking to my game plan will also mean success. We talk a lot about “Circle of Competence” at Pender. Knowing where we do and, as importantly, do not have expertise is central to our investment strategy, just as knowing how hard to push yourself on the bike ensures you still have what it takes to tackle that third peak of the day or complete tomorrow’s stage.”

Look out for the post-race blog post.

Melanie Moore