The Goalden Fleece

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Rule #9 remains one of the pillars of The Rules.

Happy living in our stressful lives is all about organization. For instance, I like to sort the tasks first by priority and then group tasks of equal priority into buckets of minor priorities. Software developers creatively call this approach to organization a “bucket sort”. This helps break down what appears to be an insurmountable mess of work and separate it into consumable, understandable units.

Being the optimist that I am, after prioritizing, I start by sorting my activities into those which I would rather consume a cyanide tablet than tackle, and set a goal to work through those first. Once I’ve completed those, I feel a sense of accomplishment that helps build the morale needed to tackle the remaining items. Having completed the “cyanide” bucket, I feel better about tackling the “wrist-slitting” bucket and working my way gradually towards “beating myself to death with a rusty hammer“, which represents the least appealing of the tasks.

It’s all about using the momentum gained from the last activity to drive the next, which is also how I approach my training. It can be hard to find the motivation to remain disciplined in your training when the days are dark and wet; when your goals are many months away it is far too easy to find other priorities when there is nothing immediate towards which to drive. The training becomes erratic, and our progress is stunted. Without a clear plan, we react to our schedules and external demands rather than working around them; goals force us to prioritize our lives in a way that leads us towards success and the secret to Training Properly is to cascade your goals in a way that allows for steady progress that builds toward the greater objective.

However much we love Cycling, getting better at it requires routine hard work and suffering, an endeavor whose most reliable variation is marked by an unplanned visit from the Man with the Hammer and very few glimpses of his lovely wife, La Volupte. We need small successes to fuel our desire to climb back on the bike to continue The Work despite the cold rain lashing down. For the last year, my training has been focussed on the Heck of the North, which I will sadly be missing due to unforeseeable circumstances at work. Missing out on the opportunity to compete in Northern Minnesota finds me deflated and reluctant to get on the bike and suffer despite the excellent form I’m enjoying at the moment. But as one goal is passed by, another settles into focus, and my sights are already shifting around the bend towards the 2015 Keepers Tour, which will be returning to Belgium during the Cobbled Classics.

The days are shortening and the sun hangs low in the sky when it isn’t blocked out by a thick blanket of clouds. The morning mist keeps the roads damp and drives a chill into my bones. A few weeks ago, I was dreading the change. Today, I welcome it. The wet is coming, and I have my goal set. I look forward to tapping out my rhythm to the metronome of raindrops dripping from the brim of my cap.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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61 Replies to “The Goalden Fleece”

  1. Psychologically I really had to dig down to some place that I hope I never have to go again. Even though it was the most difficult moment, as a person and an athlete, just to know that if it gets really, really, really bad I can go pretty deep to do what I really believe in and what I really want to do.

    – Andy Hampsten

    Cycling Legends: Andy Hampsten
    http://www.bicycling.com/content/cycling-legends-andy-hampsten (Bruce Hildenbrand)

  2. @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.

  3. @markb

    @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.

    Need some creative mind to come up with a bit for the Lexicon to describe while descending in the cold or wind and tears well up behind the eyewear in the corner of your eyes. Roy Orbison ??

  4. @Chris

    I’m not sure I would make the same choice as the rider in the middle. Although its probably the safest place given the irregularity of the sides and gutter.

    Either way, all those riders have some stones riding on at full gas.

  5. The weather in the title picture is outside my window right now, only with more snow.  I now have six months of commuting on a mountain bike with spiked tyres to look forward to…

  6. Training through the winter is always harder (in Sydney so we have just finished our winter) and I did my fair share of complaining. But now as race season is almost upon us I am enjoying seeing those who took the whole winter off struggle to get some form back. Race season and goals keep me going but the fear of having to start from scratch at the beginning of the season is even more motivation to keep ticking the boxes through winter. My biggest race to date is about 5 weeks away so Winter training- I’m counting on you!

  7. @frank

    @tessar

    I can unpack my revered and loved warmers, jerseys and gilets, the knee-warmers and belgian booties, the windproofs and the warm gloves. For a cyclist in the land of eternal summer, it seems I’ve amassed unbelievable amounts of Rule #9 gear. I guess that’s just envy…

    Half the fun is in the gear. Some for cooking, by the way.

    Same, but different. Give me a wok, two pots, a strong flame and a razor-sharp knife, and I’ll be the happiest in the world.

    But give me three gilets, a windproof, a rainproof, long-sleeve jerseys and jackets, six kinds of gloves, five weights of baselayers, booties and shoe-covers and an obscene amount of socks, and I’ll still look at the catalogue every day, skim the sales sections and imagine living in a climate where I won’t have to justify a Gabba. Especially since even near 10c, I prefer the flexibility of arm-warmers and a lightweight gilet to a cumbersome jacket.

    If I get the UK research position I applied for, I might regret that and wish I had my 20-rainy-days-annually climate again.

  8. @unversio

    @markb

    @Cog

    @unversio

    single digits are rough, but its that damn wind-chill that will kill you…generally if I don’t see any birds then I know its too F’N cold….

    agree with wind-chill, especially when going down hill (sorry, I don’t always follow Rule #23, especially when icy). Going up hill, or on the flat is OK, but going down in the cold I’ve had to stop several times and tuck my hands under my pits (or even worse down my bib) because I couldn’t feel mhy fingers to brake.

    Need some creative mind to come up with a bit for the Lexicon to describe while descending in the cold or wind and tears well up behind the eyewear in the corner of your eyes. Roy Orbison ??

    Tears of a Clown?

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