Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easy Friday: Wednesday Night Worlds


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My mountain biking friends had their first race of the year on Saturday. It was a time trial. As you already know, I'm not a mountain biker. Heck, I didn't even know that there were mountain bike time trials. But just because I don't own a mountain bike doesn't mean that I had to miss out on time trialing fun. So Saturday afternoon, I paid a visit to the airport service road for a TT workout on the p2SL.

While boiling up some fresh lactic acid, my mind began to drift. I thought the shadows that the late afternoon sun threw on the tarmac were funny.

Airport time trial run. My legs look like they're about 45 feet long.

The silhouette projected on the road reminded me of my life long best friend, Steve Missey.

Back when we were in kindergartners, I followed him home after school one day. I thought he was cool. His mom greeted him/us at his front door and asked, "who's your new friend, Steve." He turned and looked surprised to see me standing there. He had no idea who I was. We've been best friends ever since.

Anyway, I learned a lot from hanging out with Steve. Like how to think abstractly. His gift manifested itself early in his art work. Steve's specialty was the family portrait. While the rest of us were instructed to draw stick figures with proportional arms, legs and torso, Steve's point of view gave a heavy emphasis to the legs. He was brilliant. Bucking convention, Steve boldly drew it as he saw it. Like the shadow projected above, young Steve drew his parents legs as if they were four stories tall.

Here's an mspaint.exe replica of Steve's family portrait:

the Missey Family Portrait

Those gangling legs crystallized new pathways of intellect for me, forever changing the way I perceived the world. Thanks, Steve.

So it should come as no surprise that I thought of Steve -- again -- when I was riding with Mark Savery (Mod) and Bryan Redemske on Sunday.

Bryan (top) and Mark training in the new MWCC kits

When Bryan wasn't drilling it up the 12-16% grades, the topic of conversation was on Tom Boonen not winning the Tour de Flanders earlier that day. At some point, Mod said that Boonen had a freakishly long torso compared to his legs. He went on: at 6'4 and 180 pounds, Tornado Tom rides a relatively small bike (58 cm) with a 140mm stem. Boonen's build sounds more like swimmer Michael Phelps than that of a world champion cyclist.

Tom Bonnen's torso wins the world championship

My mind spooled as I attempted to grasp what Mod was saying. I realized that he was describing the inverse of the Missey family portrait. Could there be such a thing?

I then wondered how a young Tom Boonen would have drawn himself riding a bicycle. Imagine the torso:

a rendering of Tom Bonnen's first self-portrait

Apparently, there's been lots of discussion in cycling forums about Tom Boonen towering size and his disproportionate torso. In one, writer Talewinds dared to publicly ponder what it'd be like to build a bike to Bonnen's specs:

The other day and I realized [Bonnen] and I are the same height/ weight. I currently have (2) 60cm bikes, a 62cm bike (too long top tube) and I'm building a 58.5 cm bike. The only measurement I'm really worried about is the seat-to-bar drop, because on this used frame/fork, there's gonna be quite a bit of drop.

I have no idea but I can say that fitting a frame to you based on what fits someone else makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

you should try to be like mcewen, he's only won three stages at the tour this year

Talewinds :
I'm not some naive noob here FMW, and I'm not trying to fit myself to a bike based on how someone else fits to theirs. It's a GENERAL interest in bike fitting

Aw Geez, Talewinds, don't listen to those bullies. Who's to say that your build is not unlike Boonen's? Where some may dream, you may be justified in replicating Boonen's bike. Perhaps it's the only thing keeping you from reaching your full potential. Do you wish you could drop freds on your next group ride? Are you always a pack finisher just off the podium? Perhaps you're only a few percentage points of efficiency away from being the next State champ in your category. You may never know unless you go for it.

You see Talewinds, I can sympathize with you because I also have a disproportionate torso-to-leg ratio. At 5'9 with an inseam of 33 inches, I am an 80% version of Tom Bonnen. Where most at my height ride a 54-56 cm bike, I have a 51 cm with a 120mm stem. The stem stretches me out so far that I feel like superman when I ride it. I'm no Tom Boonen, but it works for me.

Still, since seeing Steve's family portrait, I've had a void in me that my stubby little legs could never fill. I've secretly wished that my proportions were flipped.

A boy can always dream...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Teach, Scold, Correct, Train

Shim's so vain, he probably thinks this blog is about him.

Sorry Shim, it's not about you. Though you do all of these quite well -- especially the scolding/rebuking part -- this post's not necessarily about you. But pay attention, I believe you could still learn something, and there may be a quiz on Monday.

The title of this post comes from Paul's second letter to Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
--2nd Timothy 3:16

I like Paul. He must have been an athlete. A runner, even. There are numerous examples where Paul compares living a holy life to that of running a race. The discipline of being holy is not unlike the training it requires to finish the race strongly.

At bible study last night, we were reading 2 Timothy. In our group discussion, someone mentioned that in order to be ready for the trials of life, one should strive to balance the four ingredients: teach, rebuke, correct and train. For example, one cannot simply teach without having first trained, nor rebuke without encouraging proper correction.

During the discussion, my poorly disciplined mind started thinking about triathlons. In triathlons, one needs to be balanced in their preparation for a race. It doesn't come easy. In fact, I've never met a triathlete who loves all three disciplines of swimming, biking and running. More often, the triathlete excels at one skill and has to really work on the other two. Training requires sticky determination to remain committed to the plan when you'd rather ride on a run day. But if you're not committed, you'll become imbalanced and pay the price. Imbalance leads to poor racing performance, and quite possibly overuse injuries.

Don't let perfection become the enemy of good.
Being balanced will never create perfection. At the pool, I'm not the fastest swimmer. I get dropped all the time on the bike. Gerald Kubiak's presence regularly reminds me that I'm not the fastest runner. But when the race comes, I only need to be among the fastest to compete. I managed to win a triathlon once. I was sixth out of the water, third fastest on the bike and the second fastest runner. But overall, I was the most balanced triathlete that day. In fact, I won the race by over a minute.

Triathlons neatly illustrate the importance of being in balance. But much of the same could be said about how one trains as a cyclist. To be successful, a cyclist needs to train towards different skills, ie: strength/power, handling, endurance, hill climbing, sprinting.

The same could be said about running.

Or about work.

Or about our relationships with family, spouse, children.

Or about our relationship with God. It's a holy week. My Jewish friends are in the midst of celebrating passover. Today is Good Friday and Easter is on Sunday. To this, I've been thinking about how I can become more balanced in my relationship with God. Lord knows, I'm no saint and could use a training plan refresher.

Teach, Rebuke, Correct, Train. All Scripture is God-breathed and useful.

I encourage you to spend some time reviewing your personal training plan. Where can you become more balanced in your life?

Thanks for reading. Happy Easter everyone.