cooke

The First Ride Back

The First Ride Back

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It’s the ride you’ll do the most. The hardest ride you’ll ever do, too. You’ll do it so often that it should be easy, but it never is. Its frequency is such that it really should morph into all the other rides of its ilk, therefore negating the actual nexus of this necessary, evil ride. But it never does, it’s always stuck out there on its own, no matter what the duration between it and the next one is, could be months, could be only a week, but it’ll never leave, like that mate who stays for a couple of nights yet really should be paying rent after the first month, or at least offering a 20 for some food. This is the modus operandi of the First Ride Back.

As you get older, the FRB becomes more regular, unlike yourself. Jesus, my latest FRB really shouldn’t have qualified for its status at all, but such is the fickle nature of fitness at an ‘advanced’ age that just six days off the bike is enough to send one into panic, that the hard earned fitness is somehow leaving the body at a rate many times faster than it was acquired. Even with a pretty solid few months of riding under the belt, the effects of six days off, caused by an errant finger meeting a spinning disc rotor, sounded a death knell to me. A couple of opportunities came and went, adding to the mental mire as well as the (mainly perceived) physical one. Jumping back into the Tuesday night jaunt brought the daunt. Begging for hostilities to secede always falls on deaf ears, and plea bargaining for no hills is as well received as a stripper at Sunday school.

I recall reading an article by recently retired Baden Cooke some years ago where he spoke of his own FRB, an annual rather than weekly or monthly occurrence for him. Unlike mere mortals, he would no doubt have a pretty good base to draw upon, and even after a month or two off the bike (and probably partying hard as Cookie was known to do), he would still have the kind of condition most of us could only dream of. Yet he suffered the same mental and physical barriers as a normal rider does, but with a distinctly different approach, namely a 300km ‘hell ride’ from which he’d return some seven hours later with a sense that his season was now ready to start. A 50km jaunt with a couple of efforts thrown in seems almost laughable by comparison, but mirth never seems to enter the equation until the bike is racked and the celebratory beer is poured.

By the conclusion of the FRB, everything always seems much better, no matter how badly you’ve suffered, how far out the ass you were, what portion of your lungs you’ve coughed up. Just when you think you could take no more, the surVival instincts kick in and wring one, two, three last droplets of the Essence of V from within, and gives pride a swift kick up the ass for good measure. The next day you are renewed, and can’t wait to do it again.

Just not any longer than a week away, ok?

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. @brett

    Another fab article, timely for both the time of year and (for some of us) the stage of life.

  2. @Buck Rogers

    So, relevance? I have finally climbed on the bike (rollers) again starting this month after a many month layoff and my ass hurts!!!

    I can relate to that too.  Per my post/photo elsewhere fortunately on my breaks from the bike do not lose me fitness courtesy of “skinning up the white stuff” however there is always the “my arse is going to hurt after this” when I get back home and get out the bike again.  I think I’ll avoid asking for suggestions of how to keep the arse hard while away from the bike.  Oh damn I just did.

  3. @Buck Rogers

    @xyxax

    @scaler911

    Yes, no hijacking, but ….

    Hijacking a thread??? Isn’t that what we are SUPPOSED to do around here? This is fuck’in Johnny “Short Attention Span” Bravo theatre, right?

    Talking of which I once read an article about why newsreal items in the US are a max of three (3) minutes whereas in the UK they max at 5 minutes……

  4. FRB.  Rule #5.  End of discussion.

  5. Haven’t read the other posts, but I feel like this entire season was a wicked blend of being both stronger than ever (I could do anything on the cobbles at Keepers Tour, if felt like) and then having periods of great training followed by forced time off the bike. Then coming back, training hard, and off again.

    After the Heck of the North and riding with a 1/4 of slurry in my chammy for 7 hours, I was forced off the bike for a whole month to let things heal.

    Coming back is just part of the beauty of being a Cyclist; you start off feeling weak, then slowly you claw back. For me its the same every time; I hold back, don’t push hard on the climbs and then suddenly, I’ll go on a ride and just be ready to kill it and bury myself. That is the beginning of the form at that point and its such a rush to feel that way and then to feel the pain and puked lung at the top of a big climb and be able so tell yourself that you’re back on the path.

    Its a process I’ve come to cherish. But I cherish it less than being in koont-krooshing form, as William calls it.

  6. @uptitus

    FRB. Rule #5. End of discussion.

    Very effective to use Period.

  7. @frank

    … to feel the pain and puked lung at the top of a big climb and be able so tell yourself that you’re back on the path.

    Also referred to as Lung Burn.

  8. @unversio

    @uptitus

    FRB. Rule #5. End of discussion.

    Very effective to use Period.

    hmmm but that would kill the essence of the site  if we can’t discuss ourselves into oblivion?

  9. @unversio

    @scaler911

    I always take Oct-Nov off the bike as a way to “reset”. I usually start the FRB slowly, mixing it up with skiing.

    This year, however, I had the misfortune of tearing the labrum in my hip. So after a steroid injection (ya ya, I’m on PED’s now……not really) I got back to it last week. Slowly, per the Orthopods instructions. The first 7-10 days always suck. It’s really all in your head. Most of it is disappointment at the struggle to get up those steep bumps in the 42/19 that you were killing in the 53/17 in August. One thing that experience teaches us though, is that like LeMan say’s “it never gets easier, you just go faster”. Faster just can’t seem to come fast enough.

    Glad to hear you are on the way. The methodical return can be a useful journey, but it’s also understood that “the time=space continuum can start to mess with you” as you’re racing to where you need to be. Nice when day 1 becomes day 10 and then day 100.

    Thanks! It’ll come, and like Frank was saying, one day, you start a long climb after some time off and you feel the urge to bury the pin. I suppose what’s interesting about that first time (all over again) is that I leave the house with a general direction in mind, but something deep down, and without conscious thought leads me to the hills. Usually the longest steepest ones around town. A little doubt sets in when first turning onto it, then the rhythm sets in and you just keep pushing harder. And harder. Do I turn off at the midway and skirt the hillside? Nope. Gotta hork up a lung or get the dry heaves if I’m doing it right. Quitting is for pu…..quitters…….. Then I know I’m back on the path……..

  10. @xyxax

    @scaler911

    Yes, no hijacking, but I’ll bite: positive wallet biopsy?

    @Buck Rogers

    just pimping you for old time’s sake. Felt good.

    Ha! That’s really funny actually. The answer was “you don’t have to intubate anyone ever, you only do it to free up your hands so you can do other stuff”. The point of the exercise was to teach the medic that it’s more important to move air than to get a ETT in.

  11. Seven days without riding makes one weak.  FRB tomorrow.

    @wiscot

    This is why I’m a community member here: articles that resonate and like-minded folks who “get it.” . . .

    Spot on.

  12. After a long lay off the FRB I always tell myself take it easy, just have a spin, stay on the small ring. On that FRB always ends up heading home sur la plaque and souplese that it takes me ages to get back to the FRB form.

  13. @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    @xyxax

    @scaler911

    Yes, no hijacking, but ….

    Hijacking a thread??? Isn’t that what we are SUPPOSED to do around here? This is fuck’in Johnny “Short Attention Span” Bravo theatre, right?

    Talking of which I once read an article about why newsreal items in the US are a max of three (3) minutes whereas in the UK they max at 5 minutes……

    News reels ? Is it 1954 and nobody told me ?

  14. This morning one of the guys in our racing team was asked why he wasn’t riding this weekend (hence the vague connection in my mind with First Rides Back).

    Forget weddings, family emergencies and saddle sores. He has to train his falcon for hunting season.

    Top that.

  15. Not FRB but FSRB for me. After a few spins out over the holidays I went out on Sunday with my regular training buddy for what was definitely the first SERIOUS ride back of this year, for me anyway. Not that long, not that hilly and not that hard – relatively, but on a breakfast of a buttered muffin and an espresso it put me squarely in the back of the pain cave. While I was working my socks off my buddy just seemed to be coping with that bit less effort leaving me chewing on the bar tape. Times were well off PBs, there were literally no positives to take away from it, but that turned it into the perfect kick up the arse I needed to get my training going. There will now follow many evenings taking myself to increasingly dark places so that I can come back stronger. It’s going to hurt, and I’m smiling about it.

  16. @Marcus

    I had a nasty FRB last week. And it was worth nothing as we are in the midst of 4 days in a row of 40 degree days (thats over 108F to you Septics) so i aint riding (too hungover in the cool of morning due to the use of beer to combat dehydration – which combats it like the Dutch combatted the Germans) so i will have another FRB tomorrow.

    Things could be worse – could be in Adelaide (where all the cyclists are) where it will be 46 today!

    yeah, went for a longer ride yesterday due to a late start at work & figured I could get away with avoiding the worst of it by leaving at 5.30 & getting home by 10.30. Was already 30 degrees when I set out & had hit 41 by the time I’d ticked off 100k & arrived back in the city at the office.

    Consumed something like 7 litres of water during the rest of the day & my piss was still brighter than the maillot jaune…

    Most disappointing thing about today was that anything over 46.1 would have been our hottest day on record,  didn’t event get close (peaked at about 44 at 3pm).

  17. @Buck Rogers I’ve said this before in a reply to one of your Book of Faces posts, but for some reason I’ve got Johnny Cash singing Ring of Fire in my mind.  This is a worrying pattern!!!

  18. @ChrisO That’s class, right there!

  19. The great thing about doing a lot of cross riding in the winter is that when I do the FRB on a road bike, I feel really darn strong, which is nice. Pedaling in mud and riding knobbies makes rolling on smooth tires on smooth tarmac a breeze.

    It’s amazing how quickly the doubt rolls in though, and yep, a ride you’ve done hundreds of times seem monumental.

  20. I thought purchasing a trainer would mean the FRB would be less of a FRB……

    Not so much.  While it does feel like I’m pedaling into the wind solo on the trainer, for what inevitably feels like a mind numbing eternity, there is just no replacement for sitting atop my steed, speeding across the rolling blacktop with my mates.

    The length of time leading up to FRB, merely determines if I’m desperately sucking wheel or actually up front, laying down some V….

  21. @ChrisO   1954 was a great year.

  22. The thing I hate about the FRB is that your memory is of your prior form so you go out at that level and suffer accordingly.

    I’ve had too many FRBs lately:

    after 5 weeks off after a bike related back injury – the VMH kept dropping me for the first few Rides back;

    after a week long conference with little exercise, too many carbo loading breakfasts, and too many malted recovery beverages;

    Currently on 2.5 weeks holiday in Vietnam and Phuket, again with exercise, food and booze excess. The VMH is getting toey too and is currently out on a run (FRB), first time since November.

    This one is a double negative because if we weren’t here we’d be riding for a week following the TDU in Adelaide.

    suffering will come at the end of the month.

  23. Seems I’ve had several FRBs the last few months. Gussying up the house to sell, parting out 26 years of living there, settling in with the VMW, and winter with its shorter days. Sunday’s ride felt like I had one lung due the cold I’m getting over. But still I look forward to those rides; many don’t understand the way we cyclists welcome the pain and discomfort for the benefits they will bring.

  24. @Rom

    @Rom

    The VMH is getting toey too and is currently out on a run (FRB)

    You are aware there’s a much more enjoyable solution to be found for that issue???

  25. Buy a bike shop, they said.  You’ll ride a lot more, they said.

    Now, every Saturday shop ride feels like a first ride back.

    Still, I wouldn’t trade it back for my old office job.

    Ever.

  26. Excellent.  My FRB after cancer surgery last year was massively cathartic – expunged the cloud of doubt and doom.  If only the fitness had not declined so drastically and swiftly.

  27. @Teocalli

    @ChrisO 1954 was a great year.

    As a bit of 1954 cyclocross newsreel demonstrates:

  28. @withoutanyhills
    A fellow sufferer! Broke my hip on 29th Dec coming off on ice. Really struggling mentally with the inactivity and the long road to even getting on a bike again, let alone being fit. Desperately fighting the urge to move faster than the medical advice.

    I wish you the very best.

  29. @turbozombie must be something about the 29th as that was when I broke mine!! Although they told me the other day day that mine was actually only about 85% broken which may explain why it am now thankfully only on one crutch and have been given the all clear to get the turbo trainer out – although it is still bloody sore and will be so for another few weeks they said whilst the inflation from the op goes down. Still a while before I can actually get out on the bike though. I share your frustration of immobility. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery

  30. For those in the northern hemisphere on their FRBs, I believe it is an established fact that cold air is denser than warm air, therefore there is a good excuse  to look at your post-ride data and wonder why you were going slow – it was simply harder to go fast because of air density. Take comfort where you can guys, take it where you can . . .

  31. @Boltzmann

    Excellent. My FRB after cancer surgery last year was massively cathartic – expunged the cloud of doubt and doom. If only the fitness had not declined so drastically and swiftly.

    Wow, Glad you were able to have a FRB.  Stay well and keep the rubber side down!

  32. @wiscot

    For those in the northern hemisphere on their FRBs, I believe it is an established fact that cold air is denser than warm air, therefore there is a good excuse to look at your post-ride data and wonder why you were going slow – it was simply harder to go fast because of air density. Take comfort where you can guys, take it where you can . . .

    Now I’m really depressed.  I was taking the position that the more dense air put more air into my lungs.  Like how my vehicle runs better in cold/dense air, because its simply getting more air.  I thought the same would apply to my lungs….  I guess not enough to push through said dense air

  33. @wiscot

    For those in the northern hemisphere on their FRBs, I believe it is an established fact that cold air is denser than warm air, therefore there is a good excuse to look at your post-ride data and wonder why you were going slow – it was simply harder to go fast because of air density. Take comfort where you can guys, take it where you can . . .

    I always blame it on the fact that the cold air prohibits my muscles from warming up all the way, and the restrictive effect of all of the clothing I’m forced to wear, but I’ll add this on the the pantheon of excuses, too.

  34. @Mikael Liddy

    @Rom

    @Rom

    The VMH is getting toey too and is currently out on a run (FRB)

    You are aware there’s a much more enjoyable solution to be found for that issue???

    She’s not doing intervals yet.

  35. Haven’t been on the road in two months due to the god-awful cold in Milwaukee. I’ve only been in the trainer in the basement.

    Now I find myself accompanying the VMH on a business trip to Seattle and Portland , with a week of temps in the 50sF.  And I have no bike.

    There is no justice in the world.

  36. when I havnt been on a bike in a while(which is far to often) I always prefer for that first ride to be on my MTB. cause sucking on a MTB is more fun than sucking on a road bike.

  37. I had a few FRB’s in the last year, and they don’t get easier.

    FRB after 2 weeks of no serious rides last might, though I did do some decent runs and some hill climbs.  Having a personal crisis, and being stressed and depressed, I was mentally struggling, but the body did OK. I felt like crap before I went out, and I fully expected to bonk after a few miles.

    Luckily, I have a marathon running boss who understands how valuable exercise is, and sent me home early with specific instructions to get on my bike.   It wasn’t too bad.

    I feel my fitness draining away at an alarming rate when I’m off the bike though, like most here.

  38. I had a few FRB’s in the last year, and they don’t get easier. 

    FRB after 2 weeks of no serious rides last might, though I did do some decent runs and some hill climbs.  Having a personal crisis, and being stressed and depressed, I was mentally struggling, but the body did OK. I felt like crap before I went out, and I fully expected to bonk after a few miles. 

    Luckily, I have a marathon running boss who understands how valuable exercise is, and sent me home early with specific instructions to get on my bike.   It wasn’t too bad. 

    I feel my fitness draining away at an alarming rate when I’m off the bike though, like most here. 

  39. Not my FRB but we arrived in Adelaide yesterday  to watch Cuddles go round in The Tour DownUnder.   A Decade ago my wife and I came to Adelaide cos we’d heard what a great and safe place to ride it was – and she got hit by a car ten metres after we started riding.  This morning I get up and ride from CBD to Glenelg beach…and get hit by a fucking bus! The Adelaide FRB – fraught with danger!

  40. @HeinrichHausslersHairstyle jaysus, hope you’re ok. If it makes you feel any better we gave Tommy V the same welcome and he went straight home with a busted c/b! If you’re keen for a ride during the week let me know.

  41. @Boltzmann

    Excellent. My FRB after cancer surgery last year was massively cathartic – expunged the cloud of doubt and doom. If only the fitness had not declined so drastically and swiftly.

    I know the feeling.  Glad you’re still with us.

    Renal cell, 6 year survivor

  42. @seemunkee

    @Boltzmann

    Excellent. My FRB after cancer surgery last year was massively cathartic – expunged the cloud of doubt and doom. If only the fitness had not declined so drastically and swiftly.

    I know the feeling. Glad you’re still with us.

    Renal cell, 6 year survivor

    Prostate–2008. Gave me a new appreciation on what’s truely important.

  43. I used to refer to the season’s 1st 150k+ ride as ‘the rite of spring’–with the jersey as the vestment, energy drink as the sacred libation, and tire-on-tarmac sound like an ancient chant; guess I could add the lung-choking pollen of SE TX as an analog to incense.  Awaiting FRB post-hip breakage (best wishes to all other injured posters above)–expect dismay at  performance but elation at rolling on actual road again.  Up on the mag trainer for some short spins now, so that’s one step closer.  May your big rings resonate with great force.

  44. This past weekend was the first full cycling weekend after 3 1/2 weeks away due to a separated shoulder, a couple of cracked ribs, and a concussion (cycling-induced), and I celebrated my return with a long and purposefully-hard FRB with the club, an endless ride at 2C in dank fog.  My body feels beaten up, my legs were obliterated, my shoulder continues its dull, deep ache, and I’ve rarely felt better.  The FRB is always glorious, like a re-acquaintance with a long-lost lover.

  45. @Mikael Liddy thanks, survived today’s ride Along your beach road. Back to Vic tomorrow.

  46. @HeinrichHausslersHairstyle bugger, thought it might have been you I spied in full V-kit half way up Mengler’s hill today.

  47. @withoutanyhills
    My luck was out. I snapped off the head of my femur completely and it shattered into pieces. OUT: Fred Whitton Challenge and Dragon Devil Ride. IN: Learning to walk again (actually that can wait until I am riding again).

    Glad to hear yours is less-bad, though no doubt still a major pain in the ass. Recover well!

  48. Grim…despite the weather being bloody marvelous, I’ve managed only sporadic sorties into the hills in the last couple of months. Dark evenings and psychotic drivers have killed my commuter miles and hi-test IPA has given birth to a Kaiser-gut.

    This Saturday, I shall suffer.

  49. @Mikael Liddy if I’d been in the V-kit the bus would have ended up face down in the gutter not me. Pissed off that we had to get back to Melbourne for work so missed Cuddles brilliance on the Corkscrew today. Robbie called it when he got onto the big cog before the top and dropped Porte like an amateur!

  50. Getting back on the plane this afternoon to come back from holidays. I’m fully prepared for the FRB:

    Generally been laying when not moving (typically on the beach lounge);

    Eating high protein and carb diet building up glycogen stores;

    preloading with malted recovery beverages;

    Got two sports massages from lovely Thai girls(?).

    what more can I do?

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