Rober Millar goes deep into the Pain Cave.

The Cave

The Cave

by / / 150 posts

No words survive here, only echoes. Echoes of our hopes, of our plans, of our failures. What we thought we might do when we came here is little more than a shadow; it flickers on the walls for a moment and when we turn to look, it is gone. Doubts swell up and bounce off the walls until they become so loud they can no longer be heard.

Once we’ve entered, we can not return the way we came; the only way out is to descend into the darkness and through to the other side. When we emerge, we will breathe a new life, one where we are able to push a bit harder, and suffer a bit more. It is a better world, one with opportunity. One where we can make things happen because we have discovered a new limit of our will.

Pushing deeper into The Cave is learned over time. When we first enter, we will find ourselves in a small cavern with no apparent exit. As we train and explore its darkest corners, we discover a passage. We gather our courage and slip into a larger, darker cavern to explore. Beyond that, there lies another. Each holds its own unique strain of suffering, but with it comes also a degree of control; the choice to enter is ours and ours alone.

When I’m strong, my mind yearns for the cleansing qualities of The Cave. I feel almost the master of my pain, that I command its ebbs and flows. Even on days that don’t require it, I will hurt myself just to prove I can. When I’m chasing my fitness, however, I approach it with the same reluctance I had as a child when made to eat my vegetables. The suffering flows over me in waves and I am at the mercy of its current.

My training this summer has been erratic and unstructured. I’ve had some great periods, and just as I’ve neared a goal, either illness or travel unexpectedly reared up before me and interrupted my progress. A week away from the bike means another two weeks before I find myself back to where I was. Two weeks of drifting like a leaf in the current. Two weeks of knowing what lies beyond, unable to reach it.

Then the breakthrough, and into the next cavern. It is only through contemplating the darkest corners of The Cave that we discover its deepest passages and it is within the deepest passages that we may discover our purest selves.

Have courage and follow the path into The Cave. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. Looks like Obree is building his own pain cave…

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24015622

  2. exception 'ImagickException' with message 'unable to open image `/nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati//wp-content/plugins/dm-albums/php/image.php?degrees=0&scale=yes&width=600&height=700&quality=85&maintain_aspect=yes&rounding=nearest&image=/home/frankdstrack/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/fleeting moment/2013.09.10.20.02.00/1/Ian-Cammish-AAIC3.jpg': No such file or directory @ error/blob.c/OpenBlob/2638' in /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php:1224 Stack trace: #0 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php(1224): Imagick->__construct('/nas/wp/www/clu...') #1 [internal function]: dm_replace_image_embeds('

    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@wiscot

    @Chris

    @unversio

    @frank

    This guy is in a dark place, with no flashlight. Via our mate at BigRingRiding.

    This guy makes me suspect that Angus Young used to road race.

    Gary Busey was another batshit fast tester.

    That’s Ian Cammish riding for the mighty Manchester Wheelers, probably around 1988. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Cammish Note the drilled, tape-less bars. This is worth a read and look at the personal best stats, utterly astounding.http://www.veloveritas.co.uk/2012/12/19/ian-cammish-interview/ Gary Busey, is, his one role as Buddy Holly aside, a fucking pathetic waster.

    Ian is a legend. He won 9 Best British Amateur titles in the 80’s – an average speed compiled from your seasons best 25 mile, 50 mile and 12 hour times. 100 miles in 3.38:39 in 1981 – 45kph on a drop bar bike? His website has some interesting titbits especiallly his crack at Obree’s amateur hour record and his trip to LA  for the Olympics.

    He’s still ridiculously fast.

    Ian coached me for the best part of 18 months. I had to give it up because I couldn’t put the time in to make it worthwhile. I had to cancel too many training rides as a result of work. Every ride with him hurt, a lot.

  3. @Chris Thanks for the link! That’s going to be a trip down memory lane for sure. I was never crazy enough to do a 12 hour TT. They only held a few in Scotland every year.

    LOVE the picture of Wells. Fag-paper clearances on a fastback frame, single big ring, bar end shifter. No socks, just leather shoes. Straight-through block. 2/3 tape job on the bars with cloth tape. Those are probably silk tubs too. Pure stripped-down speed – for 12 friggin hours!

  4. I sure wish the Grand Tours would stop being so climber-oriented. Bring back the 100 + km time trials of yesteryear I say! That’ll sort out the standings good and proper.

  5. @Harminator

    @wiscot

    Gary Busey played Buddy Holly?

    Mate. You can’t exclude Leroy the Masochist: “I like pain. Any kind of pain.”

    Indeed he did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHaK7tYTFgg

  6. @Buck Rogers

    When was this photo taken? I did not think that Merlin’s were that old. This looks like an OLD pic.

    I’m guessing there was a UK Merlin brand distinct from the well known US titanium brand.

  7. To be clear, the Man with the Hammer lives in the Cave.

  8. I feel as though I have just entered the Cave. I started riding hard a couple weeks ago. I have only just begun to explore to deeper depths. The possibilities of the cave are endless. The different trails that we choose to follow determine what becomes of our future. Some may enter and loop around to find the exit again. Others shall follow in the Prophets sacred path and find true meaning. It is the way we go and the changes we endure that determine who we are.

  9. Are seriously going to discuss “the cave” without posting this glorious (over posted) image?

  10. I think Cipo is pretty deep in it here, with a shovel digging deeper:

  11. @scaler911

    Are seriously going to discuss “the cave” without posting this glorious (over posted) image?

    Out the cave and lights out.

  12. Gratuitous self shot of a hill climb TT just before the finish and dry heaves. A little back story: I hadn’t scouted or ridden the 16 mile climb before, and got anoxic enough that at mile 13 I thought it was only supposed to be 14 miles (not the actual 16 and change), so I went “all in”. The last 2 miles are actually the steepest. Fuck. (Larch Mtn OR for those in the know).

  13. @Harminator

    @VeloSix

    @il ciclista medio

    Gotta chime in on these guys’ perspectives. If you’re keen for the cave, racing is where its at.

    Sure you can push it hard by yourself and a club/group ride can make you push your limits but the true depths of the cave are best accessed in racing. (Applying Rule #70).

    The difference is determined by the amount pressure on the pedals in a given circumstance. What affects the level of motivation to maintain (increase?) the pressure and what are the reasons to abate

    I’ve always thought that solo efforts are characterized by interruptions by The Man with the Hammer. You can push hard, for a long periods of time but in the end, you’re the captain of your own destiny. You can raise the white flag any time. Group rides take away your control of the pace. Sometimes this means you ride within your limits, sometimes you can control the pace and sometimes you’re at the mercy of stronger riders. Sit in, take your turn, drive, draft – whatever. If you’re the box there’s not always a great incentive to maintain the effort. Its up to you. Its really only a training ride, right?

    Race day is different. When the pace hots up there’s not a lot that stands up in the court of Rule #5. You came to win the race, right? You have to be with the bunch at the line or you have to keep driving the break. Its what you came for. Changing up or breaking stroke is for misdirected also-rans.

    And so…there is…the cave.

    This. Nothing against not racing and be hard as fucking nails and pushing yourself over the cliff, but there is nothing like Race Day.

    The deepest reaches of The Cave are thus explored.

  14. @wiscot

    @Buck Rogers

    @unversio

    @frank

    This guy is in a dark place, with no flashlight. Via our mate at BigRingRiding.

    This guy makes me suspect that Angus Young used to road race.

    When was this photo taken? I did not think that Merlin’s were that old. This looks like an OLD pic.

    My guess is it’s in the UK (he’s riding on the left-hand side of the road). I’d say late 70s, early 80s. Back then, TT races made up the majority of the sport’s events. Road races were next and criteriums seldom held.

    When I was a budding cyclist reading Cycling Weekly, this man was the bomb-diggedy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alf_Engers

    Remember, those times were all set without the all mod cons of aero clothing, helmets, overshoes etc.And on open roads. Even today, his sub-50 minute 25 time is still a bit controversial because of traffic conditions. There were several courses in England that were held on four lane highways with loads of traffic. 12 1/2 miles out, 12 1/2 miles back with heavy trucks passing regularly = fast times!

    Sean Yates would have been a contemporary of Engers. In 1980 Yates won the National 25 Championship. This was, believe it or not, one of the biggest cycling events of the year.

    In the UK. And not anywhere else.

    @Buck Rogers

    @wiscot Cool history! Thanks!

    Interesting that he has a spare tub and a frame pump on his bike. I would not think that he’d have those in a race.

    To counter them, he is wearing a women’s swim suit.

  15. @Chris

    Ian coached me for the best part of 18 months. I had to give it up because I couldn’t quit smoking cigarettes

    Fixed your post.

    @wiscot

    I sure wish the Grand Tours would stop being so climber-oriented. Bring back the 100 + km time trials of yesteryear I say! That’ll sort out the standings good and proper.

    YES YES YES!!

    @scaler911

    I think Cipo is pretty deep in it here, with a shovel digging deeper:

    Check out the V on his quad.

    @scaler911 That sounds like the perfect amount of dumb!

  16. @scaler911

    Gratuitous self shot of a hill climb TT just before the finish and dry heaves. A little back story: I hadn’t scouted or ridden the 16 mile climb before, and got anoxic enough that at mile 13 I thought it was only supposed to be 14 miles (not the actual 16 and change), so I went “all in”. The last 2 miles are actually the steepest. Fuck. (Larch Mtn OR for those in the know).

    (Freddie Prinze-Chico voice) “Not a man crush here, but you’re looking good!” I’ve always learned the hardest lessons from not knowing where the finish started — every time “what tha’fuck!”

  17. @scaler911

    I think Cipo is pretty deep in it here, with a shovel digging deeper:

    but he still looks fabulously smooth as always. The man is, was and always will be an Adonis on the bike.

  18. @frank

    @Harminator

    @VeloSix

    @il ciclista medio

    Gotta chime in on these guys’ perspectives. If you’re keen for the cave, racing is where its at.

    Sure you can push it hard by yourself and a club/group ride can make you push your limits but the true depths of the cave are best accessed in racing. (Applying Rule #70).

    The difference is determined by the amount pressure on the pedals in a given circumstance. What affects the level of motivation to maintain (increase?) the pressure and what are the reasons to abate

    I’ve always thought that solo efforts are characterized by interruptions by The Man with the Hammer. You can push hard, for a long periods of time but in the end, you’re the captain of your own destiny. You can raise the white flag any time. Group rides take away your control of the pace. Sometimes this means you ride within your limits, sometimes you can control the pace and sometimes you’re at the mercy of stronger riders. Sit in, take your turn, drive, draft – whatever. If you’re the box there’s not always a great incentive to maintain the effort. Its up to you. Its really only a training ride, right?

    Race day is different. When the pace hots up there’s not a lot that stands up in the court of Rule #5. You came to win the race, right? You have to be with the bunch at the line or you have to keep driving the break. Its what you came for. Changing up or breaking stroke is for misdirected also-rans.

    And so…there is…the cave.

    This. Nothing against not racing and be hard as fucking nails and pushing yourself over the cliff, but there is nothing like Race Day.

    The deepest reaches of The Cave are thus explored.

    Race day a cave attempt is carefully mapped and then followed with reckless abandon. The survey discovers a whole new lower level.

  19. @scaler911

    Gratuitous self shot of a hill climb TT just before the finish and dry heaves. A little back story: I hadn’t scouted or ridden the 16 mile climb before, and got anoxic enough that at mile 13 I thought it was only supposed to be 14 miles (not the actual 16 and change), so I went “all in”. The last 2 miles are actually the steepest. Fuck. (Larch Mtn OR for those in the know).

    And from the look of your gloves you must have come straight off the golf course.

  20. @Marcus They’re velcro. That climb is in farm country………..

  21. @il ciclista medio

    @scaler911

    I think Cipo is pretty deep in it here, with a shovel digging deeper:

    but he still looks fabulously smooth as always. The man is, was and always will be an Adonis on the bike.

    Could one look any better on the stones? I need his guns. Or the drugs that gave him those guns.

  22. @scaler911 if you need velcro gloves you clearly aren’t treating them right.

  23. Stage 16, 2001 Tour de France. One of these guys has been deep in the cave. The other is yet to explain himself…

    Check the post race interviews – McGee can barely talk…”bit of oxygen and then I could see again”.

  24. Herk. I did a tube chop but it didn’t work.

    http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1469066

  25. @Harminator

    Herk. I did a tube chop but it didn’t work.

    http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1469066

    Glad it doesn’t just happen to me!

  26. Its definitely here in the preview screen – chopped and embedded…

  27. @Harminator

    Its definitely here in the preview screen – chopped and embedded…

    Ha Ha – That’s exactly what happened to me so maybe we have a bug somewhere on the site?  I gave up after about 6 attempts…….

  28. @Harminator works for me.

    It’s taken four years of hard training for me to even find the cave, the reason we race is that is the road that will lead us there, first we must make the selection before we can entertain the finale.

  29. @Gianni I guess you can at least check out what Cipo had…….

  30. @frank

    @Velocitractor

    “What’s a fekkin’ pain cave?”

    On the contrary; I’m sure his thinking was more along the lines of “There’s an exit? I must not be able to see it because of all the people I put in there who are blocking the way.”

    I hear you @frank, I hear him shouting ‘Will you fekkers stop with the screaming in there?!’

  31. Next year, the winner of Milan – san Remo is going to have to go deep in there, with this addition, Kelly would love it -

    Pompeiana: Technical Details 
    3.5km after the descent of the Cipressa, the riders leave the Aurelia road and begin the start of the climb of the Pompeiana.

    The climb, which is 5km long with an average gradient of 5% and a maximum of 14% at its steepest point, begins steadily at 6-7% before narrowing slightly, flattens and kicks with a very hard 500m section consisting of a pair left/right bends with a gradient between 10-14%.

    A gradual slop follows on with a narrow track up to top of the climb, 20.7km from the finish, and then up to Castellaro. Here the twisty technical descent begins that takes the riders down to Arma di Taggia where the route re-joins the Aurelia and the historical race route. From here, there is just 4.4km of racing to be done before the start of the crucial Poggio climb.

  32. Best plan for race day: Lead the bunch to the back of the pain cave then run off with the only flashlight.

  33. @frank

    @Chris

    Ian coached me for the best part of 18 months. I had to give it up because I couldn’t quit smoking cigarettes

    Fixed your post.

    Still the cigarettes and only really taking cycling seriously for the last couple of years are a decent excuse for being slow. Yours?

  34. @unversio

    @frank

    @Harminator

    @VeloSix

    @il ciclista medio

    Gotta chime in on these guys’ perspectives. If you’re keen for the cave, racing is where its at.

    Sure you can push it hard by yourself and a club/group ride can make you push your limits but the true depths of the cave are best accessed in racing. (Applying Rule #70).

    The difference is determined by the amount pressure on the pedals in a given circumstance. What affects the level of motivation to maintain (increase?) the pressure and what are the reasons to abate

    I’ve always thought that solo efforts are characterized by interruptions by The Man with the Hammer. You can push hard, for a long periods of time but in the end, you’re the captain of your own destiny. You can raise the white flag any time. Group rides take away your control of the pace. Sometimes this means you ride within your limits, sometimes you can control the pace and sometimes you’re at the mercy of stronger riders. Sit in, take your turn, drive, draft – whatever. If you’re the box there’s not always a great incentive to maintain the effort. Its up to you. Its really only a training ride, right?

    Race day is different. When the pace hots up there’s not a lot that stands up in the court of Rule #5. You came to win the race, right? You have to be with the bunch at the line or you have to keep driving the break. Its what you came for. Changing up or breaking stroke is for misdirected also-rans.

    And so…there is…the cave.

    This. Nothing against not racing and be hard as fucking nails and pushing yourself over the cliff, but there is nothing like Race Day.

    The deepest reaches of The Cave are thus explored.

    Race day a cave attempt is carefully mapped and then followed with reckless abandon. The survey discovers a whole new lower level.

    As I have such limited experience to draw from…. one race….. I can agree with this…..

    As is indicated by my ride data (yes, I break Rule #74).  I pushed myself harder than I ever have on my machine.  And what about this refusal of my stomach to make room for a post race meal.  Anybody else get that when they’ve pressed their limits?

  35. This is your ticket into the cave that came with my 30yo steely I bought last year (Yes a 45/54) Haven’t been game to put it on yet.  Anyone got a set of 42/52 SR rings for sale?

  36. @Fausto

    Best plan for race day: Lead the bunch to the back of the pain cave then run off with the only flashlight.

    That would be a great move, I would have to hope my battery gets me back out…

  37. @il ciclista medio

    @scaler911

    I think Cipo is pretty deep in it here, with a shovel digging deeper:

    but he still looks fabulously smooth as always. The man is, was and always will be an Adonis on the bike.

    Yeah, I was going to say the same thing about him looking fabulous and that if he’s in the cave, he certainly isn’t showing it.

  38. I miss the cave. Been off the bike fo a few weeks working on my house in a frantic effort to get it on the market. Then back to the bike to different roads in a different locale to find new entrances to the cave!

  39. @Teocalli

    @Harminator

    Its definitely here in the preview screen – chopped and embedded…

    Ha Ha – That’s exactly what happened to me so maybe we have a bug somewhere on the site? I gave up after about 6 attempts…….

    Just because you think you should be able to do something that I’ve told you on many occasions you can not does not mean there is a bug.

  40. @Chris

    @frank

    @Chris

    Ian coached me for the best part of 18 months. I had to give it up because I couldn’t quit smoking cigarettes

    Fixed your post.

    Still the cigarettes and only really taking cycling seriously for the last couple of years are a decent excuse for being slow. Yours?

    I don’t remember seeing you off the front in the Velodrome.

    At least you’re in good company.

  41. @Teocalli

    @Gianni I guess you can at least check out what Cipo had…….

    Mario has everything. Women want to be with him, men want to be him.

  42. @frank

    @Teocalli

    @Harminator

    Its definitely here in the preview screen – chopped and embedded…

    Ha Ha – That’s exactly what happened to me so maybe we have a bug somewhere on the site? I gave up after about 6 attempts…….

    Just because you think you should be able to do something that I’ve told you on many occasions you can not does not mean there is a bug.

    Ah but I was trying to do it in the way that the force had told me was strong and good – and worked previously……..one day the force may once again be strong within me and I’ll try again.

  43. @frank

    I don’t remember seeing you off the front in the Velodrome.

    From memory your being off the front in the Velodrome was after proceedings were mutually neutralised by everyone else after the near pile up into the closed gate. Wouldn’t that be somewhat akin to Rolland attacking after Wiggins eased off during the tack strewn stage 14 of last years tour?

  44. A nice little comment from Roche: “That is the thing with cycling…the more f*cked you are at the finish, the more satisfied you are,” he said with a laugh. “It doesn’t make much sense, but anybody who has been in my situation understands that.”

    http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/15444/Nicolas-Roche-Interview-Psyched-Saxo-Tinkoff-leader-pledges-to-give-it-everything-until-the-end-of-the-Vuelta.aspx#ixzz2egEspbiK

  45. exception 'ImagickException' with message 'unable to open image `/nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati//wp-content/plugins/dm-albums/php/image.php?degrees=0&scale=yes&width=600&height=700&quality=85&maintain_aspect=yes&rounding=nearest&image=/home/frankdstrack/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2013.09.11.09.03.22/1//frank-2013.09.11.09.03.22-1-_0004__N9O2036.jpg': No such file or directory @ error/blob.c/OpenBlob/2638' in /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php:1224 Stack trace: #0 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php(1224): Imagick->__construct('/nas/wp/www/clu...') #1 [internal function]: dm_replace_image_embeds('

    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@frank

    @Teocalli

    @Gianni I guess you can at least check out what Cipo had…….

    Mario has everything. Women want to be with him, men want to be him.

    Oh that Marco, always thinking of others’ welfare and well-being. Such a kind, charitable soul.

  46. Just back from the Pain Cave………..

  47. exception 'ImagickException' with message 'unable to open image `/nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati//wp-content/plugins/dm-albums/php/image.php?degrees=0&scale=yes&width=600&height=700&quality=85&maintain_aspect=yes&rounding=nearest&image=/home/frankdstrack/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/slatanic/2013.09.13.13.41.40/1/GLM Roubaix 1.jpg': No such file or directory @ error/blob.c/OpenBlob/2638' in /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php:1224 Stack trace: #0 /nas/wp/www/cluster-40013/velominati/wp-content/themes/velominati/generics.php(1224): Imagick->__construct('/nas/wp/www/clu...') #1 [internal function]: dm_replace_image_embeds('

    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@slatanic

    Just back from the Pain Cave………..

    The B&W pic is so much better.

  48. @Harminator

    @wiscot

    Gary Busey played Buddy Holly?

    Mate. You can’t exclude Leroy the Masochist: “I like pain. Any kind of pain.”

    Seriously cool movie, do yourself a favour and watch it, if you haven’t already. Great post.

  49. @wiscot

    The B&W pic is so much better.

    Most definitely.

  50. My first post on the site. @frank – this is pure genius and so bad a*s. Please keep the prose coming

    Juan (hope you enjoyed the climb up railroad grade on mt tam)

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