Desperate Measures

A week from today, I’m heading down to Moab for Kenny’s annual epic RAWROD event. You know what this means? I’ll tell you what it means:

  • Beer-boiled, grilled brats with mustard on Kenny’s homemade bread (yeah, Kenny makes his own bread, and it’s delicious).
  • Hanging out with 40 or so friends
  • An epic ride on sandstone for 100 miles
  • Bright sun and beautiful scenery

It’s really one of the best rides of the year…and this year I’m terrified to go.

Here’s why.

Let’s Begin With the Excuses
It has been an cold, windy, wet spring, which has followed on the heels of a cold, windy, snowy winter. And since I’ve decided this wasn’t going to be a big racing year for me, my motivation to get out and ride in bad weather has been…well, let’s say “weak.”

The degree to how far my fitness has collapsed (and to which my paunch has expanded) was brought home to me forcefully last Saturday and then again Monday. And then again today.

On Saturday, we had terrific weather, so a group of us set out on what was supposed to be a four-hour ride. Within an hour, I discovered that I am no longer one of the fast guys. I am also not one of the midpack guys. I am, however, one of the slow guys.

I will be more specific: I am the slowest guy.

Slow enough that people would ride for a while, then wait for me to catch up. And heavy enough that I noticed people were using the “Fatty” nickname without the irony I had become accustomed to. And — worst of all — weak enough that I made up an excuse to bail out of the ride early, so I wouldn’t have to climb Grove: “Sorry, I promised the kids I’d take them to the park.”

On Monday, I rode my bike to work: the 20 miles felt good. Riding home, however, was…problematic. Last year, I could do the 4-mile, 1500-foot climb in third gear, even carrying a fully loaded messenger bag.

Monday, I had to drop down to my granny gear for pretty much the whole thing. What’s worse, at one point I actually stalled out and unclipped, ready to stop and rest fro a moment. It was only at the last moment that I realized what an admission this would be — no longer able to complete a road climb I have done dozens of times before. I clipped back in and battled my way to the top.

Yesterday, I intentionally rode alone, because I couldn’t think of a single person who rides anywhere near as slowly as I do. And also because I didn’t want people to see how tightly my jerseys fit. I’m thinking of giving Twin Six a call and having them send me some bigger jerseys. You know, just ’til I lose a few pounds.

How I Will Get Into Extraordinary Shape In One Week
Am I the first person who has ever dawdled away the weeks and months when he should be training, only to find — with a week to go — that he is woefully unprepared for the event?


However, I have a plan that will help me still turn in a spectacular performance at the 2008 RAWOD. I will detail it here, so that you can adapt it for your own purposes.

  1. Train Like a Banshee. For the next week, I will train myself to and beyond my limits. I will ride hard every single day, and will do everything I can to get in at least five hours on the road each day. Some people might think that all I will accomplish by pushing this hard so close to a ride is ensuring my utter exhaustion before the ride even begins. To these people, I reply: “Pshaw.” Have they never heard the axiom “Better late than never?” And is it not indeed late? So is it not self-evident that it is better for me to train now than not at all? My logic is irrefutable, I think you will agree.
  2. Starve Myself. I have proven in times past that if I really set my mind to it, I can lose up to seven pounds in a week. In this case, I intend to lose weight by eating nothing but laxatives for the entire week. Thus will I arrive at the beginning of RAWROD hungry, weak, dehydrated, and probably quite light-headed. I would therefore like to ask my fellow riders, in advance, to please have the consideration to call Lifeflight when they see me passed out on the side of the trail, or — worse — gnawing on a cactus.
  3. Wear Tight Bib Shorts. I shall wear one of the most constricting pair of bib shorts I can find. This will serve two important purposes. First, it will hide — or at least reduce — my enormous stomach. Second, it will make it almost impossible for me to breathe. Hence, I again implore my fellow riders to take necessary action if they find me blue in the face, clawing feebly at my bibs…the instrument of my demise.
  4. Adjust Expectations. I plan to find ways to tell everyone I know my sad, sad story, hopefully conveying an impression of nobility and self-sacrifice, when the reality is that I am nothing but a lazy slob who’s been unwilling to ride except in perfect weather. With any luck, people will take pity on me and drop twenty minutes from my finish time.
  5. Cajole Myself. I have mastered a little-known technique in endurance cycling that always produces terrific results. I call it the “Internal monologue of disappointment.” Whenever I approach a difficult climb or feel tired, or otherwise fall short of the kind of cyclist I wish I were, I simply talk to myself. My favorite phrase is, “Please, just this once, can’t you be strong? Can’t you push yourself past your comfort level and give yourself something to be proud of?” I should probably point out that I do not like my interior voice very much.

Oh, and one other thing: I will also eat lots of avocado sandwiches. Those things are delicious!

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