There is a lot of animosity in the professional cycling world right now. Cheaters and liars. Filthy money. Egos. Yuck.
Thankfully, I will never know what it means to be in those circles.
Still, these issues cause one to step back and ask oneself what are your motivations to ride. I suppose if I had to put percentages, it would go something like this:
- 30% Social aspects
- 30% Physical/Mental Wellness
- 30% Outdoor Awesomeness
- 10% Racing/grueling training/ HTFU (rule #5 )
When racing, you have little time to appreciate the route, social aspects or how awesome your gun show is since there isn't any floor-to-ceiling reflective glass alongside any road course I'm aware of. Instead, you spend the majority of time facing down a host of internal demons, all of whom are having a good time telling you how weak and puny you are. I truly don't understand why people love racing so much. Must be sadists.
But bad riding is part of the game. You must find ways to cope with it if you're gonna stick with it. I ride through the bad ju-ju mostly because it's a pleasure to be out on the open road with friends. It's for the exercise, the fresh air and natural wholesome steel-cut beta endorphins produced along the way that I do it.
Given the above, here's a tip how Barry copes with grueling hammer sessions. It's vitally important when he's dog-tired and on the verge of bonk-- err -- dawdling off the back of the pack so as to not disrupt the pace-line that he leans on friends to get through the rough patches.
The same applies to crappy weather rides. Who here has endured riding in the cold and wet, and through miserable cross winds only because your friends held you accountable to such folly? I know Barry has.
Last week I encountered one such occasion while riding with Leah Kleager after work. At 34 F, it wasn't that cold. But it was extremely windy (+25 MPH w/35 MPH gusts), and humid (85%). That humidity made it bone-chilling cold. And because the forecast called for warmer temps, I was poorly equipped. I wore a nylon skull cap, non thermal gloves, a light weight long sleeve jersey over tech shirt, bib shorts, knee warmers, wool socks and mountain bike shoes. I was miserable right from the start.
About 40 minutes into the ride, we came upon an unplowed section of trail that required us to hike our bikes throw snow. Nice. After the hike, I flatted a quarter mile down the road. It gets worse. I then discovered that dufus here didn't bring a pump and didn't have a spare tube (rule #83). Hi, I'm stupid. Thankfully, Leah lent me a road tube for my cross bike's 32 mm tires. On first attempt, the tire didn't seat properly onto the rim due to the tire:tube difference. Rather than riding a clown wheel, I deflated and burned the second of three co2 cartridges to get the wheel rideable. Meanwhile, my hands. Oh, my miserable hands. Handling a snow-packed cross tire and a cold aluminum rim turned them to blocks of ice. They were shaking uncontrollably. My brain mistakenly took this as a sign of hypothermia and told my entire body to follow suit. I must have looked like I was having a violent seizure while reassembling my bike in the driving wet wind.
Finally back on the bike, we turned back home into a cross-headwind. With the wind screaming constantly in my ears, and buffeting gusts nearly pushing us over, and while my hands were transitioning in and out of freeze/itch/burn cycles until we got home, I remember thinking at least a half billion times that I wouldn't be a cyclist if this is what every day on a bike entailed. No HTFU way.
That was third worst ride I've ever had. For the record, Kevin Limpach was present on all-time #1 and #2 worst rides; Shim was also present on #2. Redemske and Munson were there for #4 and #5. But those stories will have to wait for another time as the editor is screaming at me to get this turd to the press.
I tell you, if not for friends, for beta endorphins and for great scenery, I'm not sure I'd be still riding a bike.
Happy Friday everyone.