Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Off season training: amassing kilometers the hard way.

It started on a brevet. Chris N. (from PA) and I discovered that we both have trained on  Concept2 indoor rowing machines or "ergs" as the rowers call them. Chris used his over the winter to cross train. I have had one for over a decade, but since I started Randonneuring it's been off in the corner of "the man room" surrounded by bikes and bike parts - unused.

Chris mentioned the indoor rowing and I replied with my story about competing in the 2010 CRASH B World Indoor Rowing Championships. This may need some explanation. Indoor rowing is a sport. It may be the niche-iest of sports since it involves competing in a rowing distance event on a device that actually doesn't travel an inch or ever touch water; nevertheless, it is a hotly contested sport that has at its core the requirement that all of its athletes inflict intense anaerobic suffering upon themselves. So it that sense, it's kinda like bike racing.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Friday Writing for Randos: PBP 2007 by Jeff Tilden

{First Friday Writings for Randos - A monthly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly.} This month it's an excerpt from Jeff Tilden's account of his PBP Ride in 2007* . . .

I love the swoosh and the sway and the zoom of bicycling. I love to fly, to corner, to tilt like a gyroscope. It’s primitive and it’s simple and it’s elegant and it’s graceful and it’s powerful. The abject skilllessness of bicycling is its greatest virtue. It requires nothing. A four-year old can master it. A little balance, not much, far less than, say, being a spider. We know this as children, but we forget. We already have everything we need. The PBP is not the NFL. It is, instead, an incandescent union of form and function. Of past and present. Uniting us not with our grandparents as much as some animal 400 million years ago. Bicycling is primordial. We come from an unbroken line of winners, stretching back to the first day we crawled up out of the mud. Every one of our ancestors, all the way back, kept going long enough to beat predators, disease, starvation. Long enough to have a child. With really only the skill it takes to ride a bike. Like the rest of my species, I hale from Africa, and I was born to run through the woods. Or bike, if the woods are paved. A brevet is a race, after all. The human race.

 . . . We reek, but are unaware of it, like fish that don’t know they are wet.  We have been marinated in our own sweat.  Paul saw a café on the way into Fougeres 370 miles ago and has had his mind’s eye on it for two days.  He leads us there and we sit down to an outdoor picnic table feast of sausage crepes, heavy on the mustard, and frittes, heavy on the ketchup.  As we finish, Paul launches into what may be the second greatest pep talk ever.  I cannot do it justice, but the gist was . . .