Between the sky and the earth
Whether by bike or by plane, the inner fuel is the same! We spoke with José Valdivia and Matías Martínez about their passions outside of work.
Except for the distance factor, cycling and aviation share many things, particularly the belief that anything is possible if we can manage to overcome paradigms and mental blocks. José Valdivia, Operations Manager in Reynosa, Mexico, gave Tecpetrol Hoy a good metaphor about dealing with tough challenges, which he applies in this case to his hobby, mountain-biking, but which applies to any activity: "How do I deal with adversity? In the same way as I deal with an uphill climb: smallest chain ring in the front and the largest cog on your cassette in the back, you’ll go a bit slower, but you’ll be steady. And that’s how you get to the top, where you can either go downhill or tackle another new peak: both are your reward!”
Effort and dedication. That was what it took for Matías Martínez, IT Regional Sr. Manager in Neuquén, Argentina, to make his dream come true. “I’ve always wanted to fly a plane, ever since I was a kid. In Comodoro Rivadavia, a mate of mine who was a pilot invited me up for spin at his flying club. I was immediately hooked. It was spectacular. We flew around for twenty minutes and when we landed, I said ‘This is what I want to do!’” It took him two years to achieve his goal: “In February 2019, I returned to Neuquén as Head of IT. I studied really hard and prepared myself for the first day, which was amazing. I had a briefing, familiarized myself with the cockpit, the plane… and then I took the controls for the first time, an instructor by my side.”
Sometimes your passion is clear from day one, and sometimes you discover it lurking just around the corner. For José, it was totally unexpected: “One day I was leaving the office, and I spotted a group of cyclists congregating at their starting point, they were laughing and chatting together, covered in mud from head to foot, totally in the moment, and I suddenly realized, ‘this is what I want for me!’ So I showed up the following Saturday.”
Overcoming paradigms. Learning to do it properly. That's what José did. “When the day came, I realized that they were all pros. I pedaled along with the leader, who was kind enough to accompany me at a very gentle pace. We were quite a way back from the group, but he motivated me to keep going and not stop. That day I was so happy. I did about twenty kilometers and the pain was pretty intense.” The same thing happened to Matías: "When I got to the top of the runway, after the introductory briefing, the instructor said ‘Full throttle and off we go!’ I looked at him with such a terrified face that he added: ‘If you’re afraid because you’ve never flown this before, think how I feel about it with you in the driving seat!’ We laughed and then I relaxed, pushed the throttle forwards and took off for the first time."
And one day the best thing happened, which Matías will never forget. It was raining. “I got into the cockpit alone, I was incredibly nervous. I concentrated on doing all the routine checks. And then I started the engine, taxiing to the foot of the runway, doing all the things you need to do to access the runway. I requested authorization, did the final checklist. Aiming west, totally focused on getting everything right, and took off. There, once in the air, I began to enjoy myself. I’d done it. I was flying solo!"
José won’t ever forget his first big milestone either. “The night before my first long ride I had trouble sleeping. When I was about to get going, for a moment I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it. But then there was this moment when I knew that I was going to push past one hundred K and keep going. That's what I had prepared myself for: it was this seamless mind-body connection… If your head is telling you that you can't, you won't, but if you can overcome that, you’ll make it and more.”
That's what it's all about. Reaching the horizon... and discovering a new one. Goals that can only be achieved when passion is the invisible link uniting effort and training. Whether in the air or on a road running across our continent, Matías and José have much more in common than meets the eye.