Friday, December 3, 2010

r.e.s.p.e.c.t, find out what...

Why is a cardinal sin to wear a Pro kit?  The World Champ's Ranbow Strips?  Le Grimpeur's Dots?  The Maillot Jaune?  Every other sport in the world shows respect to players, clubs, sports, teams, and leagues by adorning a jersey, a hat, jackets, you name it, emblems and numbers, names and advertisements are on anything conceivable.  Why is it that we look upon someone as a poseur when they wear a Radioshack jersey to a practice crit or on a group ride?

I played hockey for a few years and you can wear a Gretzky 99 jersey and nobody will say a word, now wear 99 as your number on your club team and you will get heckled.  It seems to be a way of honoring the "greatness" of a hero by wearing "their" jersey, but not their number.  Other ways to honor your hero is to wear their number or a combo of that number, just don't do it with 99.  Teams will retire numbers to show the highest of honor, and that protects that number from another player wearing it.

Cycling is a sport based on "earning".  You have to earn everything in cycling.  You pay for fitness by training and putting countless miles into the legs.  Pain is a currency that cyclist use to gain what they have.  For a cyclist you cannot wear Rainbow stripes unless you earn them, so to see someone in the "stripes"  is a form of disrespect even though the intent was most likely the opposite.  Even in the club team ranks you have to earn your jersey.  Yes, I know...there are some clubs that allow anyone to join as long as they pay dues.  There are teams that will invite you to join, thus requiring you to "earn" your spot.

I see it as an honor to wear a ProTour kit, but if I saw someone wearing my team kit I would not be honored, I would be P!$$ed.  They did not earn it and do not have the right to be in the colors that I pay for every time I turn a pedal over.  It is disrespect to my teammates who have labored with me in the heat, cold, wind, rain, through road trips, and road rash.  That's fine buy your ProTour kit, and put it in a shadow box and hang it in your office, over the mantel, in the living room.  Just don't wear it out on a club ride, save that for NASCAR.

If you want to wear something to show your allegiance to your team, buy a euro cycling cap and proudly wear it under your helmet.  Find a team t-shirt, or a cool track jacket and wear it to the local pub.  I love the KOM competitions in the Grands, I wanted to start a collection of as many jerseys that I could.  I have the KOM from the first California, and I have the Dots from le Tour.  I would wear these out on rides, but now I straddle the fence as to what is acceptable fashion.  I want to honor these jerseys, the people who have worn them and the riders that vie for them, but I do not want to appear to have something that I did not earn.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


How do you quantify pain, how do you explain suffering?

What words do you use to describe what it feels like to do intervals on a trainer, indoors staring at a wall or the sweat puddled floor?  You don't have to say words or try and explain what it is or how it feels to someone who has experienced a trainer interval.  You do have to find words to tell your mystified co-workers around the cubical, what it means to drain your existence out with every pedal stroke.  To tell another cyclist is easy.  We have all been there, the over-used "pain cave".  "Dude, I was in the 'pain cave' last night"  It's getting lame the way we over use words, I mean ridiculous how everyone says "it's ridiculous".

Time seems to go slower when the effort is compounded to the point that you can count the seconds it takes for one second to the next.  At what pedal RPM and Wattage does the average cyclist unravel the space time continuum and time slows down?  It might even go in reverse a little?   I counted the swirls of the woodgrain in the floor, I stared holes into the clock on the wall, I blacked out and tried to go to a "happy place" but ended up in the porta-john of misery.  You have been there it's like the pain cave but worse, it's stinky, hot, and nobody replaced the toilet paper.  Once you get to a certain level of physical self-abuse your senses become heightened.   I think that I was able to see the different cells in my epidermal layer in my right thigh while doing a 10min threshold interval last night.  I could hear every valve in my heart open and close, I could even see stars through the walls and ceiling.

"Words all fail the magic prize.."  There really is no good way to paint a picture of how one feels during an extreme bout of physical self loathing.  Someone once told me that racing bikes is "pain management" the more pain that you can handle the better you will be.  The longer you race and train the more pain becomes a friend or more like a relative that has overstayed their welcome, but you get used to the suffering.  And just when you think you have this whole "pain cave" thing under control...Pain brings his friends fatigue and injury over for a party.  Yeah!

Remember:  when you are sitting on the couch there is some crazy pain junkie out there on a trainer doing intervals.