Friday, November 13, 2015

Trade Secrets

I often listen to documentaries and such while doing household things. This past weekend, it was glass making from Steven Johnson's "How We Got to Now" (PBS). The gist of it was that a bunch of glass-making Turks came to Venice to escape persecution during the 13th century. Then they got stuck there because the Venetians liked their glass so much that they threatened death upon the Turks if they left. Wisely, the Turks decided to stay and settled on the island of Murano just off of Venice.

As a result, Murano became THE place for artisan glass makers. Over the next several hundred years, their close proximity on the island created a crucible in which their art was intensely refined and perfected.

Even today, Murano is still known for its glass making. A local artisan was interviewed. Interestingly, in spite of spending some 30 years at the furnace, he claimed that he learned more simply by listening to the older generation sharing trade secrets over drinks after work.

Last weekend, Harvest Racing had a team get together. It was mostly a social event with a little business mixed in. While I sat and listened to Mark, Kent and Shim talk about the local cycling scene, I couldn't help but think about that glass maker perfecting his craft just by listening to those with more experience.

Until this year, I have never been coached. What I know about cycling has come mostly through my own racing experience, and most of that has been attrition style of racing -- cyclocross and triathlon events. Team racing requires experience to do it well. Obviously, racing on the open road is a great place to learn that. But you can also learn an awful lot off the bike just by listening. I did this past weekend.


After missing most of this cyclocross season, I've decided to make my return to racing this weekend. It's gonna be a doozy, too -- the Iowa State CX championship, and the field is going to be stacked. Wish me luck. I'll need it!

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

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