On Rule #93: The Throw Down

The human mind is designed to forget how much things suck. That is a fact. If women had the capacity to retain meaningful data on how horrible things can be, there would be exactly zero families on the planet with more than one child. This has nothing to do with how wonderful children are; it has to do with how birthing a child is the most painful thing one can do in this life and live to tell the tale. Or so I’m told. But women happily bear a second or even a third child; with each labor a fresh-faced surprise at how much the birthing process blows on a visceral level.

On the other hand, we are very good at remembering how great things can be. Like sex. Which is an ironic counterpoint to the above paragraph. I swear I didn’t plan that. (I don’t “plan” any of my writing. I do this for fun.)

I ostensibly observe at this stage in the article-writing-process that maybe I should start planning some of my writing. Because this is going nowhere.

I am vocally quiet about my uneasiness with Strava from the perspective that it causes us to focus on doing good times on segments of our rides which is in conflict with the discipline required to Train Properly. That said, Strava can be a lot of fun in the sense that it provides a kind of passive-active competitive nature to Cycling. To that point, I have been riding with the group out of Hedrick Cycles in Greenwood, Seattle recently; the owner, Carson, is on a rampage to collect the KOM‘s on the local circuits.

KOM is an oxymoron because none of these targets are climbs; he is chasing after the descents.

Seattle has a lot of good descents hidden around, even within the metropolitan area. Mostly because it is a very hilly area to the extent that I can’t find a satisfactory “flat” route to spin on for a recovery day. Which means I’ve learned to “recover” on climbs. Which feels a little bit like bragging. You’re welcome.

As a non-GPS-using rider, I have been very happy to help Carson in his endeavor to bag some tags on the local descents as lead-out monkey and I have to admit it is one hell of a cortisol fix. The descents aren’t even about the KOM anymore, the whole group just attacks one another over and over again all the way down the descent until we reach a stalemate and we start to work together, burning ourselves out and rolling off the front like a worn-out banana peel.

Based on the opening paragraph of this article, I understand that the following claim is unprovable: these descents have put me further into the hurt locker than many climbs I’ve done, barring Haleakala.

Which brings to bear an important reminder: descents are not for recovery. They should hurt every bit as much as the climb, if not more. And if you misjudge a corner, it will hurt a lot more than the climb, possibly for a bit of a while because road rash sucks.

Ride hard on the way up; ride harder over the top, and ride like you stole something on the way down. That is all.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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70 Replies to “On Rule #93: The Throw Down”

  1. @Oli

    @DVMR

    I don’t really know why, but when I started in the 70s most right-handed riders worldwide were right-rear/left-front. The opposite was known as “Italian-style” for reasons unknown, but generally (but not always wtf?) utilised by the Mosers and Saronnis of the peloton.

    There was some nebulous justification in that one was supposed to have the strong hand on the rear and the weaker on the front to help prevent over-the-bars accidents in sudden stops, but with the brakes of the day I think this would have been hard to do anyway.

    When I got my first bike it came right-rear so that’s what I used, and as I gradually became aware of proper racing bike set-up I set mine from photos of Eddy Merckx, getting the loops out of the top of the lever just so and perfectly even, and I’ve never bothered trying it the other way…this has made for some interesting times test riding client’s machines or borrowing other people’s bikes, but luckily only one ever OTB.

    Then there’s cross where it’s left-rear to allow last second braking before dismounts. But they’re savages…

  2. @ChrisO

    @litvi

    @Ron

    Gas? As in nitrous? None of the local hospitals offer that. Think that along with a few other glaring things, this is somewhere the U.S. lags behind other modern nations.

    Of course not! Who wouldn’t rather bend a pregnant woman over and poke her in the spine with a 12 or 14G needle, right in that sub-millimeter space between the meninges and spinal chord? Duh!

    Yes nitrous – it’s cheaper, easier to manage, less invasive, fewer risks and quicker to wear off. Very much the first choice unless you really want an epidural, although private hospitals tend to go more quickly for the epidural and caesarian options.

    Yep, we learned about it in birth class and would have liked it as an option, but none of the local hospitals offer it. My VMH wanted to do it as natural as possible, unfortunately she needed an epidural after 14 hours of active contractions and no dilation.

    litvi – Oh man, the anesthesiologist was definitely a Type A person and seemed quite full of himself. I guess when you either save someone from a lot of pain, or kill them, you develop a unique personality.

  3. @Ron.

    litvi – Oh man, the anesthesiologist was definitely a Type A person and seemed quite full of himself. I guess when you either save someone from a lot of pain, or kill them, you develop a unique personality.

    Haha, I swear when I had my hip screw put in the anaesthetist nearly clapped his hands in glee that I was his youngest hip patient all year (it was December 30 so a record unlikely to be beaten) and he could give me a general not an epidural.

    Still didn’t stop me going through the most intense pain experience I can possibly imagine – properly transcendental. Give me childbirth any day.

  4. Yikes, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Even with all my sporting injuries and broken bones…the worst pain I ever experienced was a tooth infection. Man, anything nerve related is insane, especially when you swear you can feel it from your toes to your head.

  5. @Oli

    @DVMR

    I don’t really know why, but when I started in the 70s most right-handed riders worldwide were right-rear/left-front. The opposite was known as “Italian-style” for reasons unknown, but generally (but not always wtf?) utilised by the Mosers and Saronnis of the peloton.

    There was some nebulous justification in that one was supposed to have the strong hand on the rear and the weaker on the front to help prevent over-the-bars accidents in sudden stops, but with the brakes of the day I think this would have been hard to do anyway.

    When I got my first bike it came right-rear so that’s what I used, and as I gradually became aware of proper racing bike set-up I set mine from photos of Eddy Merckx, getting the loops out of the top of the lever just so and perfectly even, and I’ve never bothered trying it the other way…this has made for some interesting times test riding client’s machines or borrowing other people’s bikes, but luckily only one ever OTB.

    I have also heard justification that ‘they’ wanted you to have your strongest hand on the front brake when you took your other hand off the bars to indicate a turn into a road on the same side that you are on. I.e. left turn in UK and antipodes, right turn in US. I get the feeling no one in particular really decided?

    Something just occurred to me. Aside from the fact even my bike made in a right/front left/rear country, the rear brake internal routing is still on the left side of the frame, so would look much better/bend much less if it was cabled with the rear brake on the left. With the rear brake on the right, no matter what you do, the cable is forced against the headtube, whereas if it was the other way, you could build enough slack that it never touched, or only touched when turning right.

    Secondly, brake calipers are obviously designed for a better left front cable routing. Calipers being what they are, the manufacturers could have designed them either way (just like having the drivetrain on the left, could have gone either way), but they obviously designed them for a gentler cable bend going into the ferrule port on the right side when the lever is on the left.

    Maybe there is an opening for SRAM/Shimano/Campag to design an opposite routed front brake caliper? Double their sales? Ha

    I’m anal and even I don’t notice a problem, but you know, this industry and the customers being the way they are, someone would say they needed it!

  6. @Ron

    Yikes, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Even with all my sporting injuries and broken bones…the worst pain I ever experienced was a tooth infection. Man, anything nerve related is insane, especially when you swear you can feel it from your toes to your head.

    When I say transcendental I really mean that. It was more than bodily pain.

    I was in a void, like space – it wasn’t me as a body but just a small dot of white light. And the only other thing in the void was a massive orange light, and that was pain.

    I had no concept of body and no concept of time.

    All that existed was me and pain. It was the only thing that had ever existed or would exist, without end.

    It was fucking terrifying.

    I don’t know when this happened or how long it lasted. It could have been during the operation while they were drilling holes in my femur or it could have been while I was coming out from the general. It might have lasted minutes or milli-seconds.

    Apparently as I was coming out of the general I was very distressed, so much that they asked Sophie to come in to the recovery room instead of waiting outside as normal. I remember that but it was ‘only’ bodily pain in my leg. Like the worst leg-cramp I’ve ever had times 1000. It was awful but at least I had a sense that it would end.

    So, contractions… meh.

  7. @Beers

    Secondly, brake calipers are obviously designed for a better left front cable routing. Calipers being what they are, the manufacturers could have designed them either way (just like having the drivetrain on the left, could have gone either way), but they obviously designed them for a gentler cable bend going into the ferrule port on the right side when the lever is on the left.

     

    I don’t think this would be true. I think – like drivetrains being on the right – that it was most likely just a matter of a. engineering/design/manufacturing decision unrelated to the frame. Remember Universal and Campagnolo sidepulls were designed by Italians where the majority of users would have been right/front!

  8. To come back to going downhill fast..

    I concluded today that the two Giros Nibbles won, he did it by forcing his rivals to crash. Remember Wiggins crashing repeatedly when Nibbles attacked on those fast, wet descents in ’13? And then the same again this year?

    Also his Lombardia win was like that. Everyone knew he was going to attack over the top, and everyone was right there on his wheel, and no one could do a damn thing about it.

    Obviously he can climb a little bit too.

  9. @RobSandy

    @RobSandy

    @bea

    One day I’ll remember not to drink coffee while read here… Coffee everywhere… Again…

    PS I disagree about giving birth being the most painful thing one can do in this live. But I guess that just proves your point…

    my wife says that sciatica was worse than giving birth. I’m not going to dispute, not experienced either.

    While I have never given birth, I have passed a minute kidney stone.  The sensation was akin to a lightning strike in the genitalia.  I have known women that have both given birth and passed kidney stones, and they would take childbirth any day.

  10. @The Grande Fondue

    To come back to going downhill fast..

    I concluded today that the two Giros Nibbles won, he did it by forcing his rivals to crash. Remember Wiggins crashing repeatedly when Nibbles attacked on those fast, wet descents in ’13? And then the same again this year?

    Also his Lombardia win was like that. Everyone knew he was going to attack over the top, and everyone was right there on his wheel, and no one could do a damn thing about it.

    Obviously he can climb a little bit too.

    Not to mention Nibali’s TdF win then Contador crashed on a descent trying to catch him.

    In my opinion descending is an under appreciated aspect of racing. The best descender I can recall is Paolo Savoldelli, who was nicknamed Il Falco for his  falcon like swoops down mountainsides. His descending ability won him at least one of his two Giro titles (I believe it was  2005). After having been dropped on a climb and losing the virtual lead, he made up enough time on the descent to save the Maglia Rosa by 28 seconds.

  11. @Oli

    @Rick

    Careful about mentioning Paolo Savoldelli around here lol, Frank doesn’t like him.

    Haha, thanks for the heads up and sorry if I offended anyone. Is there a list somewhere of approved or not approved cyclist?

    I was on the Champs Elysees one year chatting with Marty Jemison. Marty mentioned what a beautiful rider someone was. When a pro like Marty notices, it is high praise indeed.

  12. @Rick

    No need to apologise! Hopefully someone can chuck up a link (I can’t find it!) that will clear up that comment, which was much more a dig at Frank than you.

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