The peloton is coming! The peloton is coming! In the Land Down Under, Oz, the country formerly known as “Penal Colony,” hearty souls are already cranking their cranks in anger. The TDU is nigh. Rider itineraries are leaking out into the starved press. The softer among them are shivering in an unseasonably cold Spain. The harder are training in Belgium (Hello, Stijn Devolder!).
And you, our avid and ardent and aardvark-like readership, are spinning your rollers and braving your weathers and thinking about all the kilometers you hope to pass beneath your rubbery roundnesses over this 365 day period we call the “year.”
In other words, all is well and right in the cycling universe.
Given that we are in this nice, soft, clean spot in the calendar, the season stretching before us tabula rasa-styley, let’s take a moment to express wholly subjective opinions about the quality of the thing we are yet to see. Here is this weeks question:
In your (possibly) humble opinion, will the 2010 pro cycling season be better or worse than 2009? Why?
Image courtesy John Pierce, Photosport International
Rain. Snow. Sand. Mud. The average road bike wasn’t really designed to be used in such conditions. But we’ve been there.
I began asking myself a question: What would Eddy do? The answer was easy.
Eddy would keep pedaling.
Tomorrow morning, January 8, Dr. Christopher Thomas Thompson will be sentenced for the six felonies he committed against Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr, as well as the misdemeanor he committed against Patrick Watson and Josh Crosby.
To a great many cyclists, this day has been a long time coming. Many people decided his guilt once they heard the reported circumstances, so the trial struck many as a formality, simply a long pre-game show before the one-act main event—the sentencing.
Thanks in part to the efforts of RKP readers, more than 270 letters and e-mails have been filed with the court, condemning Thompson’s actions and requesting no leniency for a man whose actions resulted in life-altering injuries for Peterson and Stoehr.
Deputy District Attorney Mary Stone has used the letters and e-mails to request a lengthy sentence for the doctor.
She wrote to the court, “It is time that motorists learn that they must share the road with people on bicycles and that the courts will view assaults on cyclists by motorists as seriously as other assaults with deadly weapons.”
RKP will be in court. We’ll tweet the sentence once it is announced—@redkiteprayer.
Well, see how much we learn about each other when we share like this. About half of you are trying to lose weight in 2010. The other half of you are trying to podium. Some for the bouquets. Others for the broom wagon. I like symmetry like that.
On the UCI side, it seems most of us want to see the doping procedures homogenized. Craig put in a word for 24-hour MTB racing, and that really piqued my interest. A number of you also mentioned race radio/live TV bans.
I wonder how many of you believe that, on some level, radios/TVs are cheating. What I think I hear a lot of you saying, based on your views on drugs/radios, etc. that you want to see the sport purified. Resolutions are about reaching for ideals, so that all makes sense. I like to think that every word we write (all of us) about these things, the closer they come to reality.
Like an hors categorie climb, realizing our dreams takes a long, long time, a lot of pedal strokes, a lot of sweat and pain. But that’s what we do, isn’t it?
Some years ago I sat through a time-management presentation by a motivational speaker. I was the managing editor for a magazine that hit deadlines the way Rocky Balboa hit Apollo Creed. We were but one of many trade magazines our owner published; the room contained nearly 100 editorial and production staffers. We needed the presentation the way James Cameron needs technology lessons.
The presenter’s big show-stopper was a routine in which he took two-gallon glass jar and put a number of large rocks in it. He compared them to job, family and financial obligations. Next, he inserted a number of smaller rocks. Those were meals, personal passions, etc. Then, he shook in a liberal amount of sand—grocery shopping, oil changes, mowing the lawn. Just when you thought it couldn’t hold anything else, he poured in at least a quart of water. Along the way, he kept egging the crowd on, asking them, “Is there room for more?”
By the end, he had the audience wound up enough that when he asked, “What’s the lesson?” They cried, “There’s always room for more!”
“No!” he thundered back. And the room fell silent.
Again, he asked the question, “What’s the lesson?”
As I’d already read about the same presentation in Fast Company, I knew the answer.
“Plan ahead. Decide what your priorities are, first.”
The image of that jar with the rocks, pebbles and sand flooded with water came back to me recently. I was on a group ride that had dwindled in numbers until I found myself riding with a single other rider, a guy into his fifth decade but was on his longest ride ever; it would be 75 miles by the time he returned home.
He was intrigued by the fact that as the group had surged in speed, I had refused to up the ante.
“How come?” he asked.
“I’m fat and I made a promise to myself.”
I told him how my old tricks for weight loss weren’t working anymore. Bumping up my mileage a bit and cutting calories a bit had made no appreciable difference in my waistline. I had decided I must follow the advice of experts; I was resorting to the standby—Friel—plus a new title by Matt Fitzgerald.
The heart rate monitor was a recent acquisition for my companion and he was full of questions about percentages. We talked about junk miles, the yin and yang of really easy and really hard and the curse of living far enough south that the cold cannot crush your will to go hard.
There is little arc to the year for most of the guys I ride with. The average Sunday in April isn’t too different from the average Sunday in August or the average Sunday in December.
This is where our love of the bike can undercut the discipline necessary to build granite-hard fitness. The truth is, I’d love nothing more than to ride every weekend day like it was a stage of a grand tour. Fast, hilly and long, my rides take seconds on everything.
It was in explaining the hard/fast, slow/easy dichotomy that the image of the rock, pebble, sand and water-filled jar came back to me.
“You have to choose your priorities,” I said. “And I’m having to sacrifice my favorite rides so I can focus on burning fat.”
Envy runs deep in our species. We envy neighbors with bigger houses or nicer cars, co-workers with better salaries and offices, and Brad Pitt with his looks, his talent, his money, his homes, and his Angelina Jolie.
You know what I really envy? I envy the guy who can drill it and burn fat at the same time. I’d love to have that kind of metabolic efficiency, kind of like being the human version of the Doc’s DeLorean in Back to the Future, flying around, burning garbage for fuel. I also miss $2.00 movies. So it goes.
Training smart has always been about choosing a priority and focusing on it, but we’re so accustomed to trying to get more out of our training—going faster, going deeper, going longer—that it’s easy to try to add too much to a ride, isn’t it? I’ve known for a long time that it’s okay to make a long ride longer, or a fast ride faster, even to add hills to a hilly ride, but I’ve paid a price for trying to make all my weekend rides long, hilly and fast.
It’s a new year and the time has come to go back to the basics. I’m asking myself what my priorities are, riding-wise, for the year. To get on track, there may be some lonely miles, but my body has taught me tomorrow’s goal is built on today’s priority.
Yeah. New Year’s resolutions. It seems so obvious. What else would we ask about? Let’s try to make it interesting though. What we want to hear this week is both what your personal cycling resolutions are (mileage for the year, climbing better, completing a double century), but also what one resolution you would make for the UCI to make pro racing better.
So let’s have it. Give us your goals, and set one for the sport. Try to be practical. Or don’t. It’s dreaming time.
2010 stretches our before us, a blank canvas. Let’s paint it.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International.