The Cyclist

Being away from the bike is agony. Even for the day, while I’m at work, my mind swims about, thinking about my next ride. I worry that I won’t be home early enough to get the ride in that I’d planned – or worse yet – ride at all. I agonize over my decision not to ride in the morning, or to work, hoping one missed day doesn’t turn into two doesn’t turn into a week.

I wonder at which bike I’ll choose; I can visualize them hanging there, in the workshop, quietly waiting to be set free from their prison – a bike is only free when it’s being ridden. I imagine they discuss among themselves which is entitled to be ridden next; they might even place wagers on which will be the lucky one. I’m not sure with what bicycles might place wagers, perhaps a bit of grease for a creaking quick-release that I haven’t noticed yet.

All day, I evaluate how my body feels. Sitting folded up at a desk is a horrible place to judge one’s weight; I’ll lean against the desk’s edge and wonder if there was less of me touching it yesterday. I’ll feel the muscles in my thighs as I cross my legs in a conference room, and judge whether they feel stronger than the day before. Sometimes I’ll feel for the fibers in my muscles with my fingertips and then realize that the other people in the room with me probably find it odd that I’m rubbing my legs absentmindedly. To be fair, I find it odd that they don’t know what it feels like to be in shape.

It is a mystery whether I’ll be strong on the bike today or not. At the office, there is no way to know how I will feel; I won’t really know until I put in a real effort, which usually happens on the first climb of the day. Strength is a strange thing; the other day I felt blocked during my warmup but hit the top corner of the first climb so fast I almost lost my front wheel. Almost losing your front wheel in a corner on a climb is a special feeling.

Tim Krabbé wrote, “Non-riders. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.” Indeed; we are Cyclists, the rest of the world merely rides a bike.

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90 Replies to “The Cyclist”

  1. @KogaLover

    Junior Gearing tends to refer to gearing restrictions imposed by governing bodies on kids racing to prevent injuries. I can’t find anything the British Cycling website but details for the USA here .

    No idea what size wheels @wilburrox‘s daughter is using but Angus is on 650 wheels on a 2005 Trek 5000 WSD that I picked up cheap at our clubs bike jumble sale. Far from having junior gearing, its 52/42/30 x 12-26. I’ll have some adjusting to do when he races it (TTs don’t seem to be subject to restrictions here).

  2. @portemat

    Are you doing the world masters’ championships?

    Tapering FWIW is a much misunderstood concept. People often just use it to rest and do some easy rides – what it should be is a reduction in volume but not intensity.

    Having said that it seems to vary widely and what works for some people doesn’t work for others so you have to work it out over time.

  3. @Teocalli

    Ha, yes well I could wish for a lower position sometimes when my hip is a bit stiff. Getting off my TT bike which has bottles behind the saddle needs to be quite a careful act.

  4. @chris

    @KogaLover

    Junior Gearing tends to refer to gearing restrictions imposed by governing bodies on kids racing to prevent injuries. I can’t find anything the British Cycling website but details for the USA here .

    No idea what size wheels @wilburrox‘s daughter is using but Angus is on 650 wheels on a 2005 Trek 5000 WSD that I picked up cheap at our clubs bike jumble sale. Far from having junior gearing, its 52/42/30 x 12-26. I’ll have some adjusting to do when he races it (TTs don’t seem to be subject to restrictions here).

    This is her first full season on 700c wheels. Racing a 49cm alloy frameset. We started out with a 80mm stem and we’re ready to stretch it out a bit. Last year, and years prior, she was on Pinarello’s little 24″ bike. We run a 44/34 front CX ring set up from Wickwerks. The beauty of this set up is a 44-12 slides just under the Jr’s rollout. So, she can run a full 11-sp block 12-25 or 12-28 depending on race. Otherwise, what normally would happen, is you’d need to use the limit screws to block off the smaller cogs if running a 50 or up big ring.

  5. @chris

    Our 10 miler is 5 out/back on a country road. She’s more comfortable if someone’s following behind. If I’m outa town a club member will follow or most recently, her mother followed in car. Maybe next year she’ll cool with hitting it alone. But no matter to me as is fun to tag along (and excuse for me not to have to hit it myself). The 2km uphill we’ll usually set her off first and I’ll follow behind next at 15 sec’s. Most recent effort she was far further up the hill by time I caught her than any before and I recognize it won’t be long before I don’t. What I really dig is following along behind the Jr’s fields at road races. That’s always been encouraged. And is much fun. Cheers

  6. @frank

    Agree with your translation of “niet-renner”. I actually do not like the translation of the Dutch title “de renner” into “the runner” but then again I also do not like many translations from The Rules into Dutch. I should shut up.

  7. @chris

    @wilburrox

    Sub 30 for an 11 year old?! That’s incredibly strong work. She’ll be faster than the lot of us before you know it! Great photo too.

    I rode behind Angus the first 2 or three times but once he’s demonstrated that he wan’t going to be a danger to himself or the general public he was allowed to go off alone. It’ll be interesting to see how much he progresses next year but sub 30 might be pushing it, it far from a flat course.

    That pic warms the cockles of my heart. A young pedalwan with a number on his back doing a TT. He’ll be addicted in no time: first the 10s, then the 25s then his first 50. See what you started?!

  8. @wilburrox

    @chris

    …. and I recognize it won’t be long before I don’t.

    The reason I took up cycling again a couple of years ago was because my daughter was skiing faster than me (and I do Super-G’s and Downhill), so I figured I had to improve the legs’ muscles. It worked but she’s still ahead of me if she wants. Fwiw: I feel more comfortable going downhill fast on skis than on my bike. Am practicing cornering but any good suggestions or videos are much appreciated.

  9. @RobSandy

    Also, the lead photo…Nicolas Roche?

    Not sure. Could be. It’s not the Tour as Rein Taaramae of Astana was #8. I’m trying to figure out from the sponsors on the back wall which race it is.

  10. @wiscot

    @chris

    @wilburrox

    Sub 30 for an 11 year old?! That’s incredibly strong work. She’ll be faster than the lot of us before you know it! Great photo too.

    I rode behind Angus the first 2 or three times but once he’s demonstrated that he wan’t going to be a danger to himself or the general public he was allowed to go off alone. It’ll be interesting to see how much he progresses next year but sub 30 might be pushing it, it far from a flat course.

    That pic warms the cockles of my heart. A young pedalwan with a number on his back doing a TT. He’ll be addicted in no time: first the 10s, then the 25s then his first 50. See what you started?!

    And the beauty of it is it takes n+1 to 2(n+1) so, as much fun obsessing about our own personal n+1 bike is, when you get to do it for the kiddo’s too? Even more fun.

  11. @KogaLover

    @wilburrox

    @chris

    …. and I recognize it won’t be long before I don’t.

    The reason I took up cycling again a couple of years ago was because my daughter was skiing faster than me (and I do Super-G’s and Downhill), so I figured I had to improve the legs’ muscles. It worked but she’s still ahead of me if she wants. Fwiw: I feel more comfortable going downhill fast on skis than on my bike. Am practicing cornering but any good suggestions or videos are much appreciated.

    Heck with downhill part… won’t help the leg muscles! Just joking of course, going down is half the reason for going up in the first place. But I’d be last person to explain how to go down a hill fast. Cheers

  12. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    Also, the lead photo…Nicolas Roche?

    Not sure. Could be. It’s not the Tour as Rein Taaramae of Astana was #8. I’m trying to figure out from the sponsors on the back wall which race it is.

    I was going on a. Sky and b. the Irish bands on the sleeve of the jersey. Can’t think of any other Irish Sky riders.

  13. @ChrisO

    Yes, World Masters Champs. Looking forward to it immensely!.

    I probably should have said “short” rather than “easy” turbo sessions – they were not recovery rides, but still not what I would usually do. There is also the fact that taking 3 days away (fly out Saturday, race Sunday, return Monday) is a lot of time, and whatever rule #11 says, we all know that the family/bike balance will have to be re-addressed in the near future!

  14. @wilburrox

    Heck with downhill part… won’t help the leg muscles! Just joking of course, going down is half the reason for going up in the first place.

    When I first picked up cycling again, I tried to stay away from going uphill, which is rather a challenge when living in Switzerland. Meanwhile I am actually enjoying the uphill pain-in-the-legs&lungs better than the downhill pain-in-the-neck. Hence fully agree with Rule #93… Contrary to Rule #55 however, I enjoy going downhill because it means I will need to go uphill again.

  15. @RobSandy

     Last week, I got wolf whistled as I walked in. Sadly, it was by a man.

    I feel your pain brah! I come in through the back door to the office now. If it’s not smirks, it’s shaking heads.

  16. @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    Also, the lead photo…Nicolas Roche?

    Not sure. Could be. It’s not the Tour as Rein Taaramae of Astana was #8. I’m trying to figure out from the sponsors on the back wall which race it is.

    I was going on a. Sky and b. the Irish bands on the sleeve of the jersey. Can’t think of any other Irish Sky riders.

    I’m going to say that photo is from this year’s Vuelta and as such it’s definitely Roche.

    I’ve out-wiscotted wiscot. And I got there before Oli. Do I get a badge?

  17. @wiscot

    That’s probably my favourite photo of him riding.

    He’s certainly addicted, he did a club run with the social group (the third group on the road who prefer not to be called the C group) recently. 82k in the rain at about 25 kph. He loved it. We’re gong again this weekend but has been told that he can’t come out every weekend as I want to ride with the faster groups as well.

    He wants to do a 120 km sportive at the end of November.

    @wilburrox

    And the beauty of it is it takes n+1 to 2(n+1) so, as much fun obsessing about our own personal n+1 bike is, when you get to do it for the kiddo’s too? Even more fun.

    Without posting Don Logan, no.

    He’s got a road bike and a mountain bike. That is plenty and he’s been told he can learn his craft riding regular drop bars. Until he’s honed his bike handling, he’s riding regular drip bars. Old school testing, no aerobars.

    Following on behind was good but I can only take him to the TTs if I can get away from work early which generally means I’ve only got time to pick him up and get down to the start. If I’ve got time to pick my bike up and change then I’m racing too.

  18. I tend to get stressed out, and riding reduces that stress.

    When I don’t ride, my stress isn’t reduced. Further, not riding is, itself, a source of stress.

    The lesson? It’s as simple as ABC.

  19. @RobSandy

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    Also, the lead photo…Nicolas Roche?

    Not sure. Could be. It’s not the Tour as Rein Taaramae of Astana was #8. I’m trying to figure out from the sponsors on the back wall which race it is.

    I was going on a. Sky and b. the Irish bands on the sleeve of the jersey. Can’t think of any other Irish Sky riders.

    I’m going to say that photo is from this year’s Vuelta and as such it’s definitely Roche.

    I’ve out-wiscotted wiscot. And I got there before Oli. Do I get a badge?

    Stage Six from the Rouleur gallery.

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

  20. @chris

    @RobSandy

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    Also, the lead photo…Nicolas Roche?

    Not sure. Could be. It’s not the Tour as Rein Taaramae of Astana was #8. I’m trying to figure out from the sponsors on the back wall which race it is.

    I was going on a. Sky and b. the Irish bands on the sleeve of the jersey. Can’t think of any other Irish Sky riders.

    I’m going to say that photo is from this year’s Vuelta and as such it’s definitely Roche.

    I’ve out-wiscotted wiscot. And I got there before Oli. Do I get a badge?

    Stage Six from the Rouleur gallery.

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    My head is hung low in shame that I didn’t see the Irish stripes on the sleeve. I my defense, the magnificent guns are just so compelling to look at!

  21. @chris

    @wiscot

    That’s probably my favourite photo of him riding.

    He’s certainly addicted, he did a club run with the social group (the third group on the road who prefer not to be called the C group) recently. 82k in the rain at about 25 kph. He loved it. We’re gong again this weekend but has been told that he can’t come out every weekend as I want to ride with the faster groups as well.

    He wants to do a 120 km sportive at the end of November.

    @wilburrox

    And the beauty of it is it takes n+1 to 2(n+1) so, as much fun obsessing about our own personal n+1 bike is, when you get to do it for the kiddo’s too? Even more fun.

    Without posting Don Logan, no.

    He’s got a road bike and a mountain bike. That is plenty and he’s been told he can learn his craft riding regular drop bars. Until he’s honed his bike handling, he’s riding regular drip bars. Old school testing, no aerobars.

    Following on behind was good but I can only take him to the TTs if I can get away from work early which generally means I’ve only got time to pick him up and get down to the start. If I’ve got time to pick my bike up and change then I’m racing too.

    Merckx knows I’ve no place handing out parenting advice, but encouraging the kid to save for his next bike (maybe with a parental match) could be a good thing in teaching the value of things we own. My last parental-bought bike was when I was 14. I think I was 17 or so when I built up my big-ass red Holdsworth. Then my Raleigh. Then my Colnago. Nothing teaches care and value like having skin in the game.

    This comment is also based upon an NPR story this morning about the number of parents who unrealistically believe their kid is heading to the pros in their particular sport and the crazy sacrifices they make to do so: club teams, trips, equipment, trainers, neglect of siblings etc, etc. What if the kid never makes the college squad let alone the pros when their entire adolescence has been consumed with that goal? (The documentary film Hoop Dreams is particularly interesting in this regard.) Let the pedalwan enjoy the sport on his own terms.

    BTW, I’m sure you’re an excellent parent – evident from the fact that you are already setting standards and limits.

  22. @portemat

    Well good luck. Look forward to a report.

    A lot of people I know from Dubai and Abu Dhabi are going over after they had a qualifying race here earlier in the year.

    What age group are you in?

  23. @chris

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    That’s also what caught my attention: Amstel Radler. Yet, Radler comes in 2 varieties: 0% and 2% alcohol. So if the ad was for the 0%, then it would be the soda-sponsor. I cannot tell the difference between the 2 though but it is a nice drink after a ride when it’s cooled. I lived in Amsterdam for many years so Amstel is -against better judgement sometimes- my beer.

  24. @KogaLover

    @chris

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    That’s also what caught my attention: Amstel Radler. Yet, Radler comes in 2 varieties: 0% and 2% alcohol. So if the ad was for the 0%, then it would be the soda-sponsor. I cannot tell the difference between the 2 though but it is a nice drink after a ride when it’s cooled. I lived in Amsterdam for many years so Amstel is -against better judgement sometimes- my beer.

    Cruzcampo was more of a giveaway for me.

    Next challenge, name all the other riders in the photo.

  25. @KogaLover

    @chris

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    That’s also what caught my attention: Amstel Radler. Yet, Radler comes in 2 varieties: 0% and 2% alcohol. So if the ad was for the 0%, then it would be the soda-sponsor. I cannot tell the difference between the 2 though but it is a nice drink after a ride when it’s cooled. I lived in Amsterdam for many years so Amstel is -against better judgement sometimes- my beer.

    Before anyone thinks he’s smarter: Cruzcampo is the Spanish Heineken subsidiary that sponsors the Vuelta, but like Amstel, it belongs to Heineken and Heineken does not produce Radler but only under the Amstel label.

  26. @wiscot

    That’s all sound advice. At the moment, I quite happy buying him bikes (and safety equipment). There’s three reasons for that.

    1. If I din’t I’d have to up his pocket money and give him more jobs. His life is busy enough as it is at the moment and works hard for what he gets.
    2. His involvement in sport to a great extent hinges around his attitude and commitment to his school work. If he puts a lot into that, I’m happy to support his down time.
    3. I want him to lean to look after the bikes he has now before any more come along.

    The restriction on aerobars is purely about him learning to ride what he has to a high standard.

    Ancillaries, like shoes, pedals and kit (other than essential club kit) he finances himself.

    As fantastic as it would be, I have no expectations that he’ll make the pro ranks and whilst I’m willing to make sacrifices to ensure that he can get to events and the like, I’m fully aware of the need to balance it out between him and the other two. Your’re right, though, it’s amazing what parents will do in the belief that their little darling is the next Wiggo/Beckham/Federrer. Love is blind.

    At this stage, I’m happy that they’re all hugely into sport, healthy and want to ride with me.

  27. @KogaLover

    @KogaLover

    @chris

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    That’s also what caught my attention: Amstel Radler. Yet, Radler comes in 2 varieties: 0% and 2% alcohol. So if the ad was for the 0%, then it would be the soda-sponsor. I cannot tell the difference between the 2 though but it is a nice drink after a ride when it’s cooled. I lived in Amsterdam for many years so Amstel is -against better judgement sometimes- my beer.

    Before anyone thinks he’s smarter: Cruzcampo is the Spanish Heineken subsidiary that sponsors the Vuelta, but like Amstel, it belongs to Heineken and Heineken does not produce Radler but only under the Amstel label.

    I only spotted the Cruzcampo bit not the Radler. Had I know we were talking about shandy, I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

    Having said that, it’s probably appropriate as I’m having a dry September to shake of the tits I grew on holiday enjoying the rural French fare at its best.

  28. @ChrisO

    The Tour of Cambridgeshire. I entered because it was 1) I live in Cambridgeshire and 2) it was on closed roads. I didn’t start it thinking “this is a race”, just that it would be a nice (albeit hopefully fast) ride.

    That I managed a qualification time was a bit of a surprise to me, which has spurred me on to focus considerably more on training with a purpose. Hence this week being my first encounter with any form of tapering.

    (other benefits include the compulsory wearing of a national jersey on Sunday, as well as it being the push I needed to finally put myself into Rule#33 compliance!)

  29. @RobSandy

    @KogaLover

    @chris

    Another give away would be the beer sponsor.

    That’s also what caught my attention: Amstel Radler. Yet, Radler comes in 2 varieties: 0% and 2% alcohol. So if the ad was for the 0%, then it would be the soda-sponsor. I cannot tell the difference between the 2 though but it is a nice drink after a ride when it’s cooled. I lived in Amsterdam for many years so Amstel is -against better judgement sometimes- my beer.

    Cruzcampo was more of a giveaway for me.

    Next challenge, name all the other riders in the photo.

    Kevin Reza for FdeJ but no idea on the other rider.

  30. @portemat

    Nice work. I’m also up in Cambridgeshire and rode the Tour of Cambridgeshire but was riding with a mate who is fairly new to the sport so it was more social than anything else. Where are you based?

  31. @chris

    @wiscot

    That’s all sound advice. At the moment, I quite happy buying him bikes (and safety equipment). There’s three reasons for that.

    1. If I din’t I’d have to up his pocket money and give him more jobs. His life is busy enough as it is at the moment and works hard for what he gets.
    2. His involvement in sport to a great extent hinges around his attitude and commitment to his school work. If he puts a lot into that, I’m happy to support his down time.
    3. I want him to lean to look after the bikes he has now before any more come along.

    The restriction on aerobars is purely about him learning to ride what he has to a high standard.

    Ancillaries, like shoes, pedals and kit (other than essential club kit) he finances himself.

    As fantastic as it would be, I have no expectations that he’ll make the pro ranks and whilst I’m willing to make sacrifices to ensure that he can get to events and the like, I’m fully aware of the need to balance it out between him and the other two. Your’re right, though, it’s amazing what parents will do in the belief that their little darling is the next Wiggo/Beckham/Federrer. Love is blind.

    At this stage, I’m happy that they’re all hugely into sport, healthy and want to ride with me.

    Gents, in a way its a bit of a shame… but if my daughter expressed interest in growing up to be a pro cyclist on the woman’s side of equation I may be doing my best to help her find other interests. Maybe I have a wrong perspective on the opportunity and maybe things could change over time. But…

    Still, I love nothing more than seeing her jump in to races, get positive results, a pile of medals at home, and tremendous confidence about life in general. When she experiences good things happening (earning state championship jerseys) from a little training and commitment? Life experience there. In meantime, given the Jr’s fields here in states, and her having to mix it up with older boys in the mixed fields… she’s gonna be on a damn nice and safe bike to do so.

    Still, her go to bike for the neighborhood? The beater BMX bike. She loves it.

    >>> happy that… want to ride with me <<<  Exactly! Very lucky in that regard indeed.

  32. @wiscot

    “This comment is also based upon an NPR story this morning about the number of parents who unrealistically believe their kid is heading to the pros in their particular sport and the crazy sacrifices they make to do so…”

    Heard that story, too.  Sadly, my ex-wife had delusions of grandeur for my kid’s equestrian hobby.  The ex was convinced that my daughter would be in the Olympics one day (based on exactly zero evidence).  The horse cost way more money than they had, and now my daughter has permanent back injuries from getting pushed to hard to jump too high before she was ready.  I’d like to get her to ride bicycles with me again sometimes, but so far no luck.

  33. @MangoDave

    @wiscot

    “This comment is also based upon an NPR story this morning about the number of parents who unrealistically believe their kid is heading to the pros in their particular sport and the crazy sacrifices they make to do so…”

    Heard that story, too.  Sadly, my ex-wife had delusions of grandeur for my kid’s equestrian hobby.  The ex was convinced that my daughter would be in the Olympics one day (based on exactly zero evidence).  The horse cost way more money than they had, and now my daughter has permanent back injuries from getting pushed to hard to jump too high before she was ready.  I’d like to get her to ride bicycles with me again sometimes, but so far no luck.

    Sorry to hear that. If there’s a gig that has to be way more expensive than cycling, it’s horses. Those things are crazy expensive! Hopefully the back injuries will not prevent her from getting on a two-wheeled steed.

  34. @MangoDave

    @KogaLover

    …I enjoy going downhill because it means I will need to go uphill again.

    I like your attitude on this!

    It’s why I live on the top of a hill…………I think.

    There’s nothing quite like going out for 150 km and knowing that you live on the top of the second highest hill in the county.  OK our south UK hills might not be that high but they make up for it by going straight up the gradient.

  35. @RM2RIDE

    “And then, on every good day: click, click, and off we go.”  Perfect!  The owner of the “guns” in the lead photo says when he’s feeling down, a ride will make him feel happier.  And when he’s cheery, a ride will make him feel even better…works for me.

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