Feeding the Good Wolf

Feeding the Good Wolf

The Good Wolf

by / / 39 posts

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”

I am given to understand that our brains get covered in plaque when we don’t exercise. That sounds terrible, a plaque-covered brain; if I needed another reason to ride, that one would be first in line.

I already ride for many reasons; the freedom, the harmony, the sense of flying over the ground. The feeling of strength in my muscles as I force tempo and near my threshold. I love feeling fit, I love how my muscles feel when I touch them, the fibers are there just below the skin.

But I can’t always ride as much as I want or need to, and I can feel my mental state start to deteriorate. Self-doubt creeps in, unnoticed, and when that happens, I find satisfaction in climbing on my bike and going into the red just to prove I can still make myself hurt simply because I want to. It rebuilds the trust I have in myself that I can do whatever needs to be done in life.

Other times, I’ll find myself in an unexplained and unsolicited foul mood that needs an exorcism. I recently had such a day after a short spell off the bike. I knew what I needed to do: go meet the Man with the Hammer. Just going for a ride doesn’t flush the system the way I need it to; I find I need to run it on fumes in order to reboot the system. Five hours into the ride, I was still riding well and still in a dark mood. The policy is to keep turning onto a road that leads farther from home until the lights go out; only then am I permitted to ride home.

The ride through the total exhaustion is where the magic happens; the sensation of hopelessness at the daunting ride ahead slowly melts into certainty that I can override the messages coming from my body and keep chipping away at the task at hand. Eventually, a heavy kind of dull strength returns to my muscles when the Body finally gives in and decides to collaborate in the Mind’s mission to overcome. By the time I get home, drained, I am reborn.

I don’t always need to ride in order to be a complete person, but generally I am a better man when I find the time to turn the legs around. Winter is coming, and the shorter days will make it harder to get out, but I am resolved to continue to feed the Good Wolf.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. Getting ready for cross season and the coach has got me running intervals. Too much pain to meditate and I have to make sure that nobody sees me – however the man with the hammer arrives about 15 minutes in so it’s very efficient.

  2. @the Engine

    “running”???

  3. #1 is clean…

    …few things satisfy like a pristine bike.

  4. @DeKerr

    @the Engine

    “running”???

    Yup – although he’s got a point in that running up steep hills does happen in CX

  5. Fucking fantastic once again. In special forces training they just LOVE to mind fuck you. That’s how they separate the ones who are worthy from those who aren’t. One thing they do sometimes us make everyone go for a fucking long ruck march and the whole way they keep telling you, “Only 15 more miles, “Only ten more miles until we rack the truck”, etc. Finally, after hours and total fucking exhaustion you reach the end of the match and just collapse. That’s when the Cadre walk up and go, “Ahhhh, fuck. Guess what boys, the truck cannot make it. Guess we get to ruck it all the way back. Of course, you can quit and catch a ride back in a few hours.” THAT’s when you see full grown men just break. But when you do make it back, nothing will break you. You feel mentally reborn. Fucking amazing.

  6. Great post, Frank. However, I have been seeing a lot of ads for the Bad Wolf lately……..

    I don’t know if it means anything or not…….

  7. @the Engine

    Getting ready for cross season and the coach has got me running intervals. Too much pain to meditate and I have to make sure that nobody sees me – however the man with the hammer arrives about 15 minutes in so it’s very efficient.

    I very much enjoy cross season but the training is in fact brutal. The first few practices leave you sore in places that were never sore during the regular season. And YES that man with the hammer hits you quite quickly and much harder than on the road. If you want to zing your heart rate into new horizons, give a cross race a try. I have never suffered more on a bike than racing cross. 5 things that make a cross race merciless:

    1. 110%+ vomit inducing effort from the gun to the finish

    2. Dismount, remount, run, jump, FALL

    3. No drafting or freewheeling

    4. Weather and course conditions (the most difficult races are actually in dry conditions because the speed is insane and gets faster every lap)

    5. The temptation of beer handups

    @frank

    Wonderful piece.

  8. @Sparty

    5 things that make a cross race merciless:

    1. 110%+ vomit inducing effort from the gun to the finish

    2. Dismount, remount, run, jump, FALL

    3. No drafting or freewheeling

    4. Weather and course conditions (the most difficult races are actually in dry conditions because the speed is insane and gets faster every lap)

    5. The temptation of beer handups

    6. The ohhh f*** this is gonna hurt (as the down tube on your really cool cross bike is buckling):

  9. Oops…that post of mine was supposed to go into the Bikes section of the site. Apologies for the aside and please feel free to delete my post so as to restore the logical flow of responses to Franck’s fantastic article.

  10. @kixsand

    Oops…that post of mine was supposed to go into the Bikes section of the site. Apologies for the aside and please feel free to delete my post so as to restore the logical flow of responses to Franck’s fantastic article.

    Logical flow of responses? You’re fucking hilarious!
    +1 to @kixsand for most humorous post of the day.

  11. @Buck Rogers

    Fucking fantastic once again. In special forces training they just LOVE to mind fuck you. That’s how they separate the ones who are worthy from those who aren’t. One thing they do sometimes us make everyone go for a fucking long ruck march and the whole way they keep telling you, “Only 15 more miles, “Only ten more miles until we rack the truck”, etc. Finally, after hours and total fucking exhaustion you reach the end of the match and just collapse. That’s when the Cadre walk up and go, “Ahhhh, fuck. Guess what boys, the truck cannot make it. Guess we get to ruck it all the way back. Of course, you can quit and catch a ride back in a few hours.” THAT’s when you see full grown men just break. But when you do make it back, nothing will break you. You feel mentally reborn. Fucking amazing.

    a few years ago i had a group of guys stagger into my bar, all wearing Furnace Creek 508 shirts, doing their best to make sure their livers met the Man with the Hammer. i was not surprised in the slightest to discover that they were all current, or former operators. we talked about this exact training evolution you describe as a metaphor for certain bike races, the 508 being high on that list, as well as Boston-Montreal-Boston.

  12. Actually, Brain Plaque is caused by using Bluetooth Headphones.

  13. This offseason I’m going back to the good old way of training.

    – Overdressing

    – No food

    – ( 1 ) water bottle

    – Small ring for at least six hours steady

    – Repeat next day

    1. @Rick

    Doctor Who?

  14. @frank – dang so apt. Something is definitely feeding my Bad Wolf these days and the darned thing is going to escape soon.

  15. @DeKerr

  16. @Chipomarc

    Actually, Brain Plaque is caused by using Bluetooth Headphones.

    Even if going deep on the turbo?

    BT headphones also eliminate the risk of death after getting a cable caught up in your front week on the rollers.

  17. @Tiglio

    Or better yet, eh?

  18. @Cary

    @Buck Rogers

    Fucking fantastic once again. In special forces training they just LOVE to mind fuck you. That’s how they separate the ones who are worthy from those who aren’t. One thing they do sometimes us make everyone go for a fucking long ruck march and the whole way they keep telling you, “Only 15 more miles, “Only ten more miles until we rack the truck”, etc. Finally, after hours and total fucking exhaustion you reach the end of the match and just collapse. That’s when the Cadre walk up and go, “Ahhhh, fuck. Guess what boys, the truck cannot make it. Guess we get to ruck it all the way back. Of course, you can quit and catch a ride back in a few hours.” THAT’s when you see full grown men just break. But when you do make it back, nothing will break you. You feel mentally reborn. Fucking amazing.

    a few years ago i had a group of guys stagger into my bar, all wearing Furnace Creek 508 shirts, doing their best to make sure their livers met the Man with the Hammer. i was not surprised in the slightest to discover that they were all current, or former operators. we talked about this exact training evolution you describe as a metaphor for certain bike races, the 508 being high on that list, as well as Boston-Montreal-Boston.

    Oh yeah, definitely. How do you think I got into Ultra-running??? Sure as fuck wasn’t Frahnk that introduced it to me!

  19. @Tulio

    1. @Rick

    Doctor Who?

    Yes, Bad Wolf is a major and recurring story line in the series….and I could not resist. Apologies. For penance I will do extra intervals today to feed my good wolf and clear brain plaque.

  20. @Teocalli

    @frank – dang so apt. Something is definitely feeding my Bad Wolf these days and the darned thing is going to escape soon.

    I’m not so sure that throwing the bad wolf a little raw meat now and then isn’t a bad thing… the whole ying and yang… a little tension helps to create balance and perspective. And having to overcome the bad wolf helps to keep ya on your toes. Such is life. Easy doesn’t cut it. Cheers

  21. This is all a bit dark-side v light-side, isn’t it?

    The Dark Side of the Force is so much cooler.

  22. @RobSandy

    This is all a bit dark-side v light-side, isn’t it?

    The Dark Side of the Force is so much cooler.

    Until it results in self destruction!

  23. GREAT piece, Frank! I let the Bad Wolf eat too often, as I’m prone to being negative, cynical, and jaded. The problem is that I let the small things piss me off so much, I fixate on them and forget all the good things in life. With a newborn, the VMH has said I need to stop this for his good, which will do BOTH of us good.

    I will fixate on feeding the Good Wolf. And not much time for long rides these days, but I do play soccer twice a week. After 1.5 hours of hard running in triple digit heat…I LOVE the feeling of being too exhausted to care about the normal BS that would piss me off. I meditate on trying to find this state at all times.

  24. Gotta be careful about those rides to full exhaustion. If you ever have to call your VMH to pick you up from too hard an effort, it may awaken someone else’s evil wolf. Those can be way more unpredictable.

  25. @Ron

    GREAT piece, Frank! I let the Bad Wolf eat too often, as I’m prone to being negative, cynical, and jaded. The problem is that I let the small things piss me off so much, I fixate on them and forget all the good things in life. With a newborn, the VMH has said I need to stop this for his good, which will do BOTH of us good.

    I will fixate on feeding the Good Wolf. And not much time for long rides these days, but I do play soccer twice a week. After 1.5 hours of hard running in triple digit heat…I LOVE the feeling of being too exhausted to care about the normal BS that would piss me off. I meditate on trying to find this state at all times.

    this is exactly the reason i have resumed cycling. kids don’t need that in their lives. good for you!

  26. Brilliant piece Fronck! You’ve captured so much of how the suffering renews us, and ultimately brings us peace in our world. It’s a strange thing that few seem to appreciate, but experiencing full on heinous conditions seems to make everything after that much more sublime.

    I had full on Rule #9 conditions, underdressed during a rainy N Cascades descent a week and a half ago on an empty remote road, and was pretty freaked by the initial stages of hypothermia. I eventually reached the sun down lower in the valley, where, without the truly brutal suffering moments before, could not appreciate it to the degree that I did. The good wolf had been fed!

  27. But I can’t always ride as much as I want or need to, and I can feel my mental state start to deteriorate. Self-doubt creeps in, unnoticed,

    This.

  28. Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

  29. @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    But that’s the system. And there’s a difference between gaming the system and cheating the system.

    Same as tax. You can minimise it as much as you like, within the rules. It’s only when you hide or cheat that it becomes illegal.

    Ethical is another question.

  30. @ChrisO

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    I do have my suspicions.

    On the plus side, when I had a bad chest cold last week the doctor said I should keep a stock of asthma medication in and take it a bit more often.

    So I’m going to be smashing myself full of ventolin before every race from now on.

  31. @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    This is all bad juju.

    the private personal medical records of individuals being released on line then becomes fodder for cyclingnews and other rags to list and report. They are using stolen, illegally obtained, private info, that they were not meant to be in possession of to create news stories and help sell their product. It’s one thing to report on the crime, the hack. It’s another thing to then use the illegally obtained data resulting from the crime. That’s how I see it anyways.

    Further, the whole WADA protocol and whereabouts is a horrible invasion of privacy to begin with and the fact that they cannot protect the data is a blistering kick in the a** for those forced to participate. Shame on them.

  32. @Randy C

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    This is all bad juju.

    the private personal medical records of individuals being released on line then becomes fodder for cyclingnews and other rags to list and report. They are using stolen, illegally obtained, private info, that they were not meant to be in possession of to create news stories and help sell their product. It’s one thing to report on the crime, the hack. It’s another thing to then use the illegally obtained data resulting from the crime. That’s how I see it anyways.

    Fair point.

    The difference between this and say the leaks from Operation Puerto is that TUEs are legal and permitted, so it’s hard to mount a public interest defence.

  33. @Randy C

    the private personal medical records of individuals being released on line then becomes fodder for cyclingnews and other rags to list and report. They are using stolen, illegally obtained, private info, that they were not meant to be in possession of to create news stories and help sell their product. It’s one thing to report on the crime, the hack. It’s another thing to then use the illegally obtained data resulting from the crime. That’s how I see it anyways.

    You have no idea how much I agree with your comments regarding data privacy being violated. I work in an industry where personal (sensitive) data are one of the most precious things to protect (or worst reputational risk to suffer if leaks) and when I see violations of data privacy like this, I do fear for my own data-safety. In EU, new data privacy standards are coming into force in next couple of years which are much stricter. I would encourage the impacted athletes to take WADA to court for not protecting their data appropriately. WADA should know there are people out there who are interested in those data.

  34. @ChrisO

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    But that’s the system. And there’s a difference between gaming the system and cheating the system.

    Same as tax. You can minimise it as much as you like, within the rules. It’s only when you hide or cheat that it becomes illegal.

    Ethical is another question.

    Nailed it.

    @RobSandy

    @ChrisO

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    I do have my suspicions.

    On the plus side, when I had a bad chest cold last week the doctor said I should keep a stock of asthma medication in and take it a bit more often.

    So I’m going to be smashing myself full of ventolin before every race from now on.

    I’m an asthmatic and it sucks balls. But I also just use an albuterol inhaler which doesn’t have the weight-loss bennies (obviously!) of the corticoid alternatives. I’ve had to take those occasionally to treat really severe attacks, but only when those attacks were so bad that my trachea couldn’t support itself against the damage done by the initial attack that I needed a steroid to encourage rebuilding it. And my doctor has been very – VERY – strict about how much and how long I use that form. Side effects on the box include “shortness of breath”, “heart attack” and “spontaneous heart failure”. No shit.

    To have been treated at length for years with corticoids is surprising in that context, but everyone has a different situation.

    I don’t like knowing this, though, it is private information and the use is allowed by the rules, but it feels like a gray area and I don’t like it. You can’t unring that bell once the information is out there and you process it and digest it.

    On the other hand, Sky were already looking to be a bit USPS-ish in their canned responses etc, so I’m not exactly shocked.

  35. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    But that’s the system. And there’s a difference between gaming the system and cheating the system.

    Same as tax. You can minimise it as much as you like, within the rules. It’s only when you hide or cheat that it becomes illegal.

    Ethical is another question.

    Nailed it.

    @RobSandy

    @ChrisO

    @KogaLover

    Someone fed the Fancy Bear yesterday… They put so-called ‘Therapeutic Use Exemptions’ (TUE) online after hacking WADA’s server. Froome and Wiggins are mentioned but no skeletons.

    Personally I think the whole TUE thing is massively abused in general.

    I do have my suspicions.

    On the plus side, when I had a bad chest cold last week the doctor said I should keep a stock of asthma medication in and take it a bit more often.

    So I’m going to be smashing myself full of ventolin before every race from now on.

    I’m an asthmatic and it sucks balls. But I also just use an albuterol inhaler which doesn’t have the weight-loss bennies (obviously!) of the corticoid alternatives. I’ve had to take those occasionally to treat really severe attacks, but only when those attacks were so bad that my trachea couldn’t support itself against the damage done by the initial attack that I needed a steroid to encourage rebuilding it. And my doctor has been very – VERY – strict about how much and how long I use that form. Side effects on the box include “shortness of breath”, “heart attack” and “spontaneous heart failure”. No shit.

    To have been treated at length for years with corticoids is surprising in that context, but everyone has a different situation.

    I don’t like knowing this, though, it is private information and the use is allowed by the rules, but it feels like a gray area and I don’t like it. You can’t unring that bell once the information is out there and you process it and digest it.

    On the other hand, Sky were already looking to be a bit USPS-ish in their canned responses etc, so I’m not exactly shocked.

    It is getting interesting and like you I don’t like it either. No needles hey Sir Brad? And yea, I’m critical of WADA allowing the data to be hacked and then the rags feeding on it. And then I read it anyways and… well… like ya said, the bell has been rung. So, having to confront being uncomfortable I just have to wonder, is maybe Tejay’s challenge having been that he doesn’t have allergies or asthma?

  36. You posted this on my birthday, my 50th, and today I just found your site. I’ve been actively riding as much as possible for a bit over a year, and this makes all that effort more understandable. Peace from Utica, Indiana, USA.

  37. @Skean66

    You posted this on my birthday, my 50th, and today I just found your site. I’ve been actively riding as much as possible for a bit over a year, and this makes all that effort more understandable. Peace from Utica, Indiana, USA.

    Happy Birthday and Welcome to the party.

  38. The Wiggins thing is unsavoury from whichever angle you view it. However, I can’t unsee that info nor rewind my opinion, so to me it’s a case of doping and always will be. Over (or inappropriately) treating a condition he’s not had in previous years, nor since? It stinks and is hugely disappointing. On the plus side Froome comes out of the leak pretty well, which seems to have gone unnoticed behind all of the Wiggo hyperbole.

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