There are many paths to learning lessons, many of which have their merits. Reading a book, for instance, is a popular way of learning something. Or having a teacher or mentor describe to you why things are the way they are or aren’t the way they aren’t. Then there is my favorite method, that of kicking your own head in and discovering the reasons first-hand.
I actually love being taught things by others, and value the process greatly; it allows one to move past all those lessons learned by your instructor and get to the business of making mistakes in uncharted territory. That’s where the interesting stuff – the stuff that captures my imagination – lies: learning in a very direct maner why one method might be superior to another.
Take, for example, doing a long climb on gravel. More resistance, more varied gradients, more exposed terrain – yeah, yeah I get it. Lets go. I’ve spent this week on vacation in the mountains north of Winthrop, Washington, doing reconnaissance for a future Gravel Cogal. It has been a handy study in what constitutes the gap between theory and experience. For example; yes, there is more drag doing a 15km climb on loose gravel. This manifests itself in rapid onset of fatigue. There is also a remarkable difference in the way a steep pitch feels when riding it in said loose gravel and over a wildly uneven surface.
Ironically, all that extra drag seems to convert into a sensation of riding on a combination of marbles, ball-bearings, and quicksand when descending. On the plus side, riding the road machine should seem rather easy upon my return home.