Whether it is a blank legal pad, computer screen, new translation project or mountain bike trail, it all starts somewhere. Maybe it’s a written letter, keystroke, new translation project assessment, or even the simple act of pedaling.

As a mountain biker, I draw my motivation from the sheer excitement of cycling on new and unknown trails. All your skills, equipment, experience and focus are challenged with expectation of what you may encounter along the way. It doesn’t matter if you are cycling in the USA, Latin America or Europe – the trail knows no difference in the language barrier. Your native tongue may be English, Spanish, French, Russian or any other language, but the trail knows only one thing – that is performance.

People often ask me about the parallels between mountain biking and translation services, and my response is always the same. As I stand at the trailhead of a new trail system, I am not sure what I may encounter. Will there be massive drops, entangled roots systems, ever changing trail soil composition or an array of wildlife? Once you accept the simple fact that these obstacles exist, you are able to draw on your experience, mental preparation and faith in your equipment to push you through.

Assessing a new technical translation project employs a similar mindset. Will there be formatting changes, technical industry trends or localization to a specific country? The key components will always be the faith you have in your experienced team, the equipment you use and the cool-headed focus that allows you to exceed expectations and overcome the challenges in front of you. There is no greater feeling than conquering an unknown trail, or delivering a translated multi-volume operational procedural manual to a satisfied client for that matter.

Bottom line – in cycling, if you lose focus, hesitate or stop pedaling, you fall. The same applies to the skills of a technical translation service – once you lose focus and stop advancing, business inevitably stalls.

Whether you are cycling or translating, each project or trail experience resets at completion, adding to an ever-expanding bank of knowledge that will help you conquer your next objective.

Pedal on!


With more than 10 years of experience in energy sector, Thomas Lacombe, president of Global Speak Translations, stays on the pulse of what is happening in the global oil and gas arena. He is an avid mountain biker who fuels his translation motivation on the trails so that he may turn language and cultural diversity into business opportunities for his clients. Learn more at www.globalspeaktranslations.com.