August 7, 2016 § 13 Comments
It’s August. The sun is still beating down. There are still races on the calendar. February is so far away it might as well be in Micronesia. Yet for all that, people are already starting to ponder The Question and its bastard variants, i.e. “What should I be doing for the off season?”
Glad you asked.
First you should take out a calendar for 2016 and see how many races you did. By “races” I don’t mean NPR or Telo or coffee cruises with a sprunt or Strava contests or any ride that features a “sag,” “rest stop,” or a floppy bag filled with goodies.
By “races” I mean events where you pay money, pin on a number, get shouted at by an official in an ill-fitting golf shirt, get pushed around in a pack of doped-up insane people, run the risk of crashing and getting a brain injury, and ultimately either get dropped, get chopped in the sprint, or finish cursing the day you were born and swearing to never do a another one as long as you live or until next week, whichever comes first.
So after toting up all those races you can effectively plan your off season as follows:
- 1-5 races: There is no off season.
- 6-10 races: There is no off season.
- 11-15 races: There is no off season.
- 16+ races: You should have taken a break back in April, because there’s still no off season.
“B-b-b-b-b-but!” you complain. “I’m tired! I’m worn out! I’m mentally fateeeeeeged! I gotta rest!”
All of that is true, but it’s unrelated to the three races you did back in March. In other words:
- You are tired because you are old.
- You are worn out because you are old.
- You are fatigued because you are old.
- You gotta rest because you are old.
And guess what? Next year you will be what is known as “older.” This will require even more rest. It will not require an off season. Off seasons are for ski resorts, not chubby hobby bike profamateurs.
The single biggest obstacle to rest is what we colloquially refer to as the “weekend,” but is more commonly known as “the opportunity to do 200 miles of riding in 48 hours.” This may sound like a mere warmer-upper if you do events like RAAM or have a nickname like “Metal” or “Mr. 10,000.”
For old people, though, it will not work cramming all your weekly miles into a couple of days, somehow hoping that it will compensate for doing little or nothing the rest of the week, and somehow hoping that ((beer+shitty food) x (Mon + Tue + Wed + Thu + Fri) – Big Century Ride = Fitness.
The only thing that will remove your non-season’s season-ending fatigue is an old trick used by hunter-gatherers who had to scrap for every meal every fuggin’ day. It’s the old “get up early trick.”
Yes, your August doldrums are not the result of too much riding but of sloth, and your off season training plan shouldn’t feature anything special at all except this: Get the fuck up early enough to get in your weekday rides, and go the fuck to sleep (there’s a book on this) early enough so that you can get the fuck up early enough to ride again the next day.
Please email the reasons that you can’t go to bed early or you’re a night person or whatever else to: firstname.lastname@example.org; don’t email them to me because I know why you can’t go to bed early and get up early: You’re lazy and you’d rather pound the extra carafe of tequila or watch the BIG GAME, you know, the game that’s so big they will never have another one like it ever again until next week.
Go ahead, set your alarm for 5:00 or 4:00 or 3:30 or whatever the magic number is, and go the fuck to sleep so that you get the necessary 6 or 7 hours of beddy-bye time. You’ll run into people like Craig Hummer, Doug Murtha, Jim Bowles, and the MB Morning Crew, and never need another off season again.
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July 28, 2016 § 6 Comments
My biggest goal starting Jan. 1, 2016 was to be a better decenter. But I still decent like crap. Some people on my club, Rawr-Rawr Roadies, tell me to lift my butt higher off the seat to decent better but that seems to wobble. Other people tell me to put my butt lower on the top bar but that hurts my balls and is more wobbly. Then I watched some videos with Sagan and Froome doing the top bar + peddle action. Is that my decent solution?
I see lots of idiots like you going downhill, a/k/a “descending,” with their asses up off the saddle, stuck high in the air like they’re trying to pick up a TV transmission or air out their peg-hole. Don’t do that. The way gravity works, when you stick a bunch of mass up high over a tiny bike, the two get separated really easily. So put your ass on the saddle where it belongs.
I see lots of other idiots doing the Sagz and Froome tuck. That is marginally okay when you weigh 48 pounds, you race for a living, and you can wheelie across the line after a stage in the Tour after throwing down an 1,800-watt sprint. But when you are a 245-pound Heffalump who couldn’t ride in a straight line when hitched to a rope, wedging your massive ass in between the saddle and the stem in order to get into a top tube crouch will:
- Shatter your carbon frame.
- Crash out anyone behind you.
- Get 12 billion YouTube hits.
So it’s a tough decision. Choose wisely.
I often get beat on long climbs even though I’m a really good climber. I’ll be going good and then *pop* I’m done and everyone rides away. What’s the deal? Is it my gearing?
No, it’s not your gearing. Or your cadence or even your power. There is a point in every climb where it is simply no longer efficient to pedal, and you can go faster on foot.
Next time you start to feel like you’re going to blow and come off the wheel, jump off your bike, hand it to your team mechanic or girlfriend and jog along behind the leaders. Pretty soon your heart rate will come down, the lactic acid will drain out of your epithelial scaphoids, and after a couple of minutes you’ll be able to get back on your bike and pedal away.
Working smarter not harder,
I saw this picture and I’m in love. How do I get to look like this?
Truth be told, it’s not that hard. I think if you put your mind to it you can get there in a couple of weeks; 20 pounds sounds like a lot but in reality it’s not. With some self discipline and the help of a nutritionist to make sure you’re getting all the right stuff, you can look like this quickly and not notice any big changes other than the fact that your clothes won’t fit like they used to — but that’s why we have department stores. If you turn it into a fun family or workplace challenge you’ll be there before you know it and you will feel 100% better about yourself. Watch your body image skyrocket; trust me, I’ve been there. Living in an unhealthy, ugly, and socially abnormal body isn’t good for your life in general, to heck with bike racing.
You’re talking about the photo on the right, correct?
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July 1, 2016 § 22 Comments
I don’t know why this would make me smile, but it did. Maybe because apple, banana, almonds, and foot on table are the best biking food ever. Yeah, that’s it.
June 27, 2016 § 20 Comments
Old bicycle racers focus a lot on their physical fitness but don’t pay as much attention to their mental faculties, which decline even faster with consequences even more dire than losing the 55-50 KOM for 225-lb-and-over on the Garbage Can Alley .01 Mile Segment.
Here is a quick test to see if your mind is rotting due to senility:
- You often forget things you’ve just read. T/F
- You often forget things you’ve just read. T/F
If you answered true, you have memory loss.
Rather than going out and doing a bunch of hill repeats, the best thing to beef up your soggy neurons are brain intervals. What is a brain interval? It is something devilishly, fiendishly difficult that will leave you gasping for air after a mere 2-4 minutes of effort.
The important thing is that you select something you used to be good at rather than something that you always wanted to try but never did. For example, when you are an old dude and you take up math, even though you were always horrible at math, you will quickly give up. So even though the fierce brain interval caused by trying to, say, add up five numbers in a column, will cause a great increase in brain sharpness, you’ll quickly give up by day three and be back to the same old, same old.
If you were one of those people who liked to study foreign languages when you were young back in the 1920’s, my advice is that you study Chinese. Now, a couple of qualifiers: If you’re already Chinese, this won’t help. Also, if you’re not already Chinese and you try to learn Chinese, you’ll sound like a complete fool no matter how many years you study it.
This is because Chinese has tones that completely change a word’s meaning. Problem is, you can’t hear the tones. Only Chinese people can. And while you’re sitting there smiling into your video cam while you do your online lesson with a cute teacher in Shanghai, and you think you’re saying, “I ate a hamburger last night,” because you got the tones all garfed up you’re actually saying, “I licked the dog’s butt last night.”
You’ll never know that, of course, because your teacher is very polite and she doesn’t give two hoots whether you ever learn Chinese or not as long as you keep paying the monthly lesson fee.
Still, even though you will never learn Chinese, it is so terribly hard that you will spend the rest of your life struggling with it and making practically zero progress, so it’s a lot like bike racing. Plus, each time you memorize a kanji (even though you forget it the next day), it will build approximate 200 new synapses. Example: Memorizing the characters 互聯網圖片is the neurological equivalent of growing three new brains.
Perhaps you don’t want to learn Chinese and figure that instead of three new brains you’d be happy learning Spanish, or Russian, or Igbo, and only getting the equivalent of one new brain’s worth of synapses. Regardless, you should visit www.italki.com, a language learning web site that offers instruction for pretty much any language in the world by native speakers at incredibly cheap rates. Its tag line is “Become fluent in any language!” which is of course a complete lie. You can also use the web site to do a free language exchange (these never work, by the way), where you swap a half-hour of conversation with an English learner who already speaks English better than you do, for a half-hour of murdering your target language with the fluency of a cat.
Check it out. You’ll soon be chattering away, and even though no one will understand you, you’ll be synapse-rich and doing crossword puzzles backwards while your bike racing compadres are drooling in the Alzheimer’s ward. If they aren’t already.
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June 25, 2016 § 10 Comments
If you want to be a successful profamateur leaky prostate bike racing dope taker, it is crucial that you get a good night’s sleep. For me, that means sleeping on Mrs. WM’s pillow. “You get offa my pillow,” she always says with a forceful kick. “You stinky head.”
Mrs. WM has the best pillow in the world. It is firm but soft, and covered with a crisp cotton pillowcase. Then, to top it off, it is wrapped in a snow-soft gentle towel that is so clean and always smells so fresh that the minute your head touches Mrs. WM’s pillow you drop off into sleepyland.
Wanky’s pillow is a different bike racing pillow altogether. First, no matter how many times you wash it, disinfect it, or plunge it into a bucket of Lime-Plus Flea, Tick & Mange Dip, it smells like an old bike racing pillow. Second, it is kind of sour smelling, like a dirty head, and it’s lumpy, too. Third, some places are soft like a rotten tomato, and others are hard like a piece of brick. No matter where you put your head on it, it’s the wrong place. You wake up in the morning from a hard night of Wanky pillow feeling like your head has been beaten with one of those giant twirling bristle things on the bottom of a street cleaner.
Mrs. WM won’t tell me where she buys her pillow and she certainly won’t buy me one. “You onna ruin it with stinky head,” she says when I beg for one. “Your head touch onna anything, stinky head. Bikin’helmet, stinky head. Bikin’ beanie head thing, stinky head. Baseball cap even though you ain’t playin’ any baseball, stinky head. So why I’m gonna buy you a nice Japanese pillow, smells all good and then stinky head?”
Since Mrs. WM has pretty sharp bedroom elbows and a solid set of 40-grit sandpaper calluses on the soles of her feet to keep away unwanted pillow snatchers, I have to get my pillow on the sly, which means during nap time. On the weekend I will wait until she’s out shopping, then sneak into bed and take a quick catnap of 2-3 hours snuggled up against her pillow. I wrap my head in a towel first to prevent anything from rubbing off and luxuriate in the deepest and best sleep known to man.
So the next time I’m standing on the podium and you wonder what my secret is … now you know.
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March 26, 2016 § 45 Comments
Everybody quits racing eventually. I know I will. Like Keith Richards, who seems to have the expiration date of irradiated food, THOG is still racing, but he’s gonna quit banging bars one day, just like Richards is going to quit banging bars on the neck of his guitar.
Most bike racing quitters wake up one day and say, “Fuck this, I’m done.” All of the facts that were so obvious to the rest of the world for so many years suddenly become obvious to them. The scales fall from their eyes. The blind see.
Bike racing travels the arc of the human relationship, which studies show is this:
- Wow, she is hot.
- Wow, I want to spend all my time with her.
- Wow, let’s move in.
- Wow, my life is now complete.
- Wow, I wish she wouldn’t complain so much.
- Wow, how come she has cellulite?
- Wow, I guess we’re just not right for each other.
- Wow, I’m so done with you can I stay here until June because I can’t afford the security deposit on a new place yet and will you take the dog?
When you quit bike racing it usually starts with money or doping or existential angst or a big crash or all four, to wit:
- I can’t believe I paid $130 to race San Dimas, spent three days away from home, tacoed a $1,500 wheel, had my 45-minute “race” shortened to 35 minutes, and watched Konsmo win the overall, the TT, the road race, the KOM, and the green jersey still fail to cover his entry fee.
- Everyone is on drugs except me, and I am, too.
- I’m a grandfather now and my legacy is going to be … 42nd at Castaic Road Race in the leaky prostate 50+ category?
- I won’t be able to walk again until November after going down in the sprunt for 12th. WTF am I doing?
Unlike the Rolling Stones, though, who do a farewell tour every few years, or the Eagles, who retire by dying, bicycle racing quitters quietly sell their excess baggage on eBay and slink away. It’s a lot like retiring from the porn industry. One day you’re swimming in three bodily fluids at once, shimmering on everyone’s cell phone, and the next day you’re wearing baggy faded jeans, a floppy hat, and joining the Sunday birding walk over at the botanical garden. You’re fucking done, or more literally, you’re done fucking.
Me, I see the handwriting on the wall. I’m never going to win a big race, and even if I did, at age 52 THERE ARE NO BIG RACES. I might win a really tiny, little, itsy-bitsy race if I can get Nick Brandt-Sorenson to make me some of his really “custom” bibs and maybe get me on a program of “ultra-custom” jerseys.
But before I quit I’m gonna do just one more race. Yeah, that’s it. Just one more.
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