– We practice the pain: Hill repeats. The odd session of motorpacing. Races where we’re not there to race, but simply to rack up leg speed. Pain tolerance -- what a lovely phrase, because it describes more than a physical thing but the mental thing too. In the way it dissolves the boundary between body and mind, the learned ability to suffer is the only mysticism most of us will ever know. That’s why you see more & more marketing that celebrates the pain: It’s the very purpose of Rouleur magazine; it’s the core of Ridley’s ‘We Are Belgium’ campaign; other imagery abounds.
For all the attention paid to pain, something related-but-separate goes unspoken: The terror inherent to the anticipation of that pain. We’ve all felt it. Near the end of a 5 hour ride that ends with a leg-crushing climb. Tomorrow’s time trial. The turn in the road up there, just in a bit, the one that’ll put the wind dead into you. The hangman’s noose is coming. You can’t see it, but you know how close it looms. Enduring the pain isn’t so bad…it’s preparing for it, it’s that wait…that’s the weakness I need to train.
– Soon enough cycling will become too passé for the cool kids of Portland. Our friends at mega-bike distributor QBP are getting prepared for their Next Big Thing. 2012: The year of the handcrafted, artisan frisbee. Can’t wait.
– Somebody cleaned out their vault of 1980’s treasure and uploaded this gem. How could’ve I never seen the whole thing before? It’s worth at least 7 minutes of your life. And if you must skim, make sure to stop at 6:50:
– And in case you’re not feeling cold enough, I’d suggest you pick up a copy of ‘The Forgotten Soldier’ by Guy Sajer. It purports to be about WW2, but really it’s a 600 page prose-poetic indictment of winter -- brain food for those imminently facing down the barrel of serious early season training. I’d suggest you wear wool socks and sit by the fire while reading.
– Speaking of 1980’s treasure, I cleaned out my attic and in between Greg Lemond snapshots and a rather dogeared REM poster found this blast from the past. And for those of you appreciative of historical ironies, our one-and-only team sponsor was the then-heavy-hitting Cycles Bikyle, a Main Line retailer of Italian bike goods that (in some sense) is now a competitor of ours and I bought a pair of Stephen Roche-edition Vittoria shoes with what turned out to be my first-ever bounced check. Kyle was cool about it and I’ve never forgotten the kindness.
And, in case you weren’t certain, the Speedwhores stole the look from RMO, not vice-versa. I must visit Ebay immediately to score a set of Charley Mottet Rudy Project shades. Haute couture!
– Let us speak of the glamour of the ProTour: For cracking the top-10 in historically-significant and UCI points-laden Giro del Piemonte, you win $300. Every time I hear stories of Eurodogs exiling themselves to the US race scene and proclaim it as lame, all I need to do is compare it to NRC parking lot crit prize lists. I stand permanently corrected.
– If your bike mechanic isn’t an insufferable primadonna, find yourself a new bike mechanic.
– List the cyclists who, in the last decade, have had the most intense pressure focused on them -- where anything short of victory is failure. Bradley Wiggins is on that list, simply by virtue of what he’s represented to the British track effort. I’m not convinced he can climb with the very best. But geez can he time trial, and geez can he situate an entire year around a single event. I used to be a skeptic, but based on his mental track record (as it pertains to setting goals & achieving them) and based on the strength of his new team, I’d say Wiggo has a real shot to blitz the 2010 Tour. I just wish it wasn’t on a San Jose Sharks blue bike. I must, however, compliment him on those fabulous shoes.