Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halfway Point Round-Up

Some KING bling!
Well, half the schedule in the 2011 Chicago Cyclocross Cup season's been raced, and I'm still struggling along near the bottom of the standings, including a couple of ignominious last-place finishes (quickly tells self that "at least you finished, and did not quit.." Whatever it takes to lessen the bruises on the ego...) Not making excuses, just pointing out the facts.

Sloppy, but getting it done...
I had a bit of an epiphany earlier this week on my way to work. I don't recall if it was someone calling in to a show on NPR, or some talk radio show of a more conservative bent, but the call had to do with fair compensation in the marketplace, return on investment, etc., etc. I suddenly realized that if I'm not performing as I should be on the bike, then it is because I have not WORKED HARD ENOUGH in training, and frankly, I don't even deserve to be placing even in the 50th percentile given my slackerdom in training. Fair enough. Makes sense.

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless... Let's call him "Iron Chef") has indicated that he actually *likes* the pain and suffering that training and racing necessarily entail. Ok, beyond Iron Chef's relationship to that drama, and whatever it means to him, his outlook makes perfect sense. In a nutshell, it goes like this: Whoever has the highest pain threshold wins. Assuming of course, that that pain threshold on the bike is accompanied by speed and skill and endurance, etc. I guess that I simply have not "embraced" suffering on the bike enough to outdistance my peers in any particular cycling discipline. And of all those two-wheeled permutations, cyclocross certainly seems to require racing-specific training the most.

Slog, slog, slog...
Well, I'm most certainly looking forward to the rest of the CX season, and all of the suffering and crazy moments that will accompany such folly. On that note, I'll leave you with an excerpt from an old article by coach Scott Saifer. I believe the original title of the piece was "Are You Crazy Enough?" It was published in ROAD magazine a few years ago:

BIKE RACERS ARE CRAZY! The voluntarily withdraw from a normal social life. The get up ridiculously early; fail to seek promotion at work; risk serious injury, paralysis and death; take fragile expensive equipment into situations where it is bound to be damaged; and drive long distances, all for the chance to win a handful of inner-tubes, or maybe a small amount of cash. Even when there is cash on the line, it is generally less than the cost of the equipment, and far less than a rider could earn doing something more productive in the time spent training and racing. The chance of winning for most riders is about equal to the chance of crashing. It is quite a bit smaller than the chance of going home uninjured or empty-handed. Bike racers go into situations knowing that they are going to experience intense pain and often are looking forward to it. They enjoy the thought that they are going to be surrounded by people in pain and that they will be increasing the pain. They believe that the outcomes of races are important enough to justify tremendous risks and the investment of all those resources of time and money. The only consistent benefit of bike racing is that riders have things to talk about with other racers, things that make non-racers roll their eyes and yawn after a few minutes. Are racers as a group sane, healthy, well-balanced people? I think not. Most often racers are at least a bit masochistic, sadistic, delusional, misfit, anti-social or socially desperate, and often all six. Perhaps craziest of all, most bike racers believe, against extensive experience to the contrary, that sooner or later they are going to win a race. Like people who play the lottery, racers believe that the tremendous value of the payout makes up for the improbability of it ever happening to them. 

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