Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finding Form and Other Misplaced Things

Finding my “form” on the bike has been a MUCH slower process this year. It seems that the grandiose plans I had post-graduation of a summer filled with nothing but training and racing never did come to pass… (okay, training, racing, and a couple of journal article manuscript submissions) Well, at least the racing never happened. As far as training goes though, I seem to have deluded myself earlier this spring that it would somehow be a good idea to try a half-marathon (as in the kind you run, on foot…) this year, so for the last couple of months, the time spent “training” for the Batavia 'Half-Madness' half marathon has indeed taken away from at least a bit of time in the saddle. It SO MUCH seemed like a good idea at the time! On that note, I have NO IDEA how multi-sport, or triathletes, or whatever they call themselves do it… spend all that time training… swimming, cycling, and running… and maintain any semblance of a normal work and social life. I have a difficult enough time just keeping up with one real sport (er, cycling…) and one imaginary sport: FIFA ’10 on friends’ Sony Play Station(s).

Silly? Sure, but it is a LONG, winter in the Midwest. What else is one to do??? Shovel snow? Read books? Conduct scholarly research and writing? Blah!..

On that note, what exactly is “form” anyway? Cyclists like to throw that term around like it’s somehow part of some secret dialect within the cult or secret society they (we) all belong to. “Yes, Armstrong’s form was really groggy that spring, but by the time the Midi Libre rolled around, it was really beginning to come around…” Or, something that is seldom, if ever (okay, actually NEVER said), “Man, Velo-Maniac’s form is super strong this year.. he’ll really be a contender at the Sherman Park and Wood Dale Criteriums!!!” Most days, I’d be happy just to find less form of the kind that gathers at one’s waistline (a negative example, where LESS form is better!!).

So, with summer on the wane, and form just starting to find me, I will probably bid farewell to the likelihood of much racing on the road this 2010 season. However, all these miles are not for naught, as that nutty, cult-within-a-cult sport of cyclocross is nearly upon us. Yes, cyclocross, where grown men (and women) in tights participate in a steeplechase-by-bike or sorts, prancing over barriers in parks and other venues at maximum cardiovascular threshold, all for the chance to win a box of stale Power Bars or a couple of dollars back from their race entry fee which they had to pay in the first place.

Ideally, cyclocross is a way to extend the racing season on the bike (or in my case, START it) into the months of fall and early winter, whence presumably, one will emerge fitter (and yes, with better form) in the spring of the following year. This is of course, in an idealized world, where beer tents and bratwurst, and potato pancake stands do not exist on-site at the race venue. I am quite certain that I have actually had race days where I have consumed twice the number of calories I have expended. I mean, really, why be any sort of “endurance” athlete, if you can’t partake in a little nutritional sin from time to time, right? Serious athletes will mention something about the need to see “food as fuel…” whereby food is not merely consumed for the sheer pleasure and epicurean enjoyment that it brings, but for some loftier, noble goal of fueling the body, no more or less than it needs.

So, on that note, I am inspired to venture forth on an experiment. I should on this night, explore as scientifically as possible (for an historian), which dairy group product serves my nutritional needs more effectively… A pint of Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, or a large strawberry sundae from Dairy Queen. Good form depends on it.