The Perfect Amount of Dumb

The Perfect Amount of Dumb

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I find professional athletes – cyclists in particular – an impressive bunch.  They are hard, disciplined people who ply their trade in some of the most atrocious conditions imaginable.  To become professionals, they have to be good at what they do, and smart enough to learn how to continue succeeding despite the gaps between the top of the sport continually narrowing.    They have to learn to live right and train right.  They have to listen to their coaches.   They have to learn to control their mind and to override the signals their bodies are sending.  They need to be smart enough to read an ever-changing race and smell the right moment to make their move; disaster and glory can be separated only by a split-second reaction born out of intuition mixed with experience and intelligence.

But the best athletes are also a little bit dumb.  Men like Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, or Tom Boonen; these are the men who flog themselves for hours on end and, when their bodies are about to break, dial it up a notch and lay it all out on the road.  A smarter man would, under those circumstances, say, “You know what?  This is nice, but I can also go less hard.”

Not asking that sort of question after dropping the flashlight deep in the pain cave is the perfect amount of dumb.

// Racing

  1. @Marko
    I thought Pisolero was going to change his salute?

  2. @frank Whatever his salute is, get used to it if you’re not already.

  3. @Marko
    I’m still holdin’ out for that positive test.

  4. @frank
    Tru dat. If pharmstrong wasn’t a bad influence on him, Vino surely will be.

  5. @frank

    Saturday’s stage at Paris-Nice bodes well for Jens. It ends in Tourrettes-Sur-Loup.

  6. frank :

    @Marko
    I’m still holdin’ out for that positive test.

    Just perusing the archives and came across this… Got any lottery picks for us, Frank? (Although calling this one ain’t that big a stretch given AC’s history with “El Doctor”) I’m sure he learned how autologous blood doping works…

  7. I’ve had this article bookmarked for a while meaning to comment on it….

    There is a lot more than a little truth to the statement that you have to be a little dumb to be an endurance athlete. There is a point in every marathon, road race, hill climb, triathlon, criterium, etc. where the hurt is so bad that you just have to shut down conscious thought and let the stupid take over. The stupid is what puts one foot in front the the other, keeps the pedals turning and let’s you block out the rest. Because if you cannot shut it out and be a little dumb, you’ll pay dearly. Those that can’t embrace the dumb have a much harder time coping with the hurt or flat out can’t finish. I’ve been there, done that. More times than I would like to admit.

    But if you do understand the dumb and embrace it, you can then ratchet it up and go. And I do mean go. Going so hard that you see spots and want to physically shit yourself. Running or pedaling to the point you think your bones will shatter or your muscles will erupt through your skin. It’s a glorious orgy of pain, sacrifice and thorough satisfaction. Though you don’t realize it until the race is over…..

    If you don’t understand the concept of a little dumb when it applies to endurance sports, you should try to make yourself understand. Make yourself shut it off and space out. The miles go by so much faster when you do. If you’ve trained correctly, your stupid while get you to the finish line without a problem.

    Vive le Muet.

    -Dinan

  8. As dumb as I am you’d think I’d be hella fast.  But alas…

  9. @Dinan

    I’ve had this article bookmarked for a while meaning to comment on it….

    There is a lot more than a little truth to the statement that you have to be a little dumb to be an endurance athlete. There is a point in every marathon, road race, hill climb, triathlon, criterium, etc. where the hurt is so bad that you just have to shut down conscious thought and let the stupid take over. The stupid is what puts one foot in front the the other, keeps the pedals turning and let’s you block out the rest. Because if you cannot shut it out and be a little dumb, you’ll pay dearly. Those that can’t embrace the dumb have a much harder time coping with the hurt or flat out can’t finish. I’ve been there, done that. More times than I would like to admit.

    But if you do understand the dumb and embrace it, you can then ratchet it up and go. And I do mean go. Going so hard that you see spots and want to physically shit yourself. Running or pedaling to the point you think your bones will shatter or your muscles will erupt through your skin. It’s a glorious orgy of pain, sacrifice and thorough satisfaction. Though you don’t realize it until the race is over…..

    If you don’t understand the concept of a little dumb when it applies to endurance sports, you should try to make yourself understand. Make yourself shut it off and space out. The miles go by so much faster when you do. If you’ve trained correctly, your stupid while get you to the finish line without a problem.

    Vive le Muet.

    -Dinan

    Ever wonder how many people around you have even been mildly out of breath in the last year?

    A long time ago I used to say to my long suffering work underlings that the sensation of pushing yourself to beyond the wall was one of the very few things that was better than sex and how surprisingly few people ever got that far – this is probably why I have to run my own business nowadays.

    When I heard LeMan’s, “it doesn’t get easier you just go faster” quote back in the ’80’s I didn’t know much about cycling but I knew what I liked and I liked him.

    Finding this site it was the first time that I was in touch with people who “got it”. Who knows – maybe a few of our nicknames hide pro’s – well maybe Frank’s server knows but it can keep a secret – anyhoo this is mostly a bunch of people that habitually like to push themselves to the edge of their abilities and a bit beyond and its an exceptional bunch of people because of that.

    Delusional middle aged fat man with shaved legs I may be but I can go to the pain cave and like it with the best of them.

    Dinan we may never meet but you’re clearly a man after my own way of thinking.

    Perfectly dumb of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but the wheelsuckers of life – Colon, hyphen, close brackets.

  10. @Cyclops

    As dumb as I am you’d think I’d be hella fast. But alas…

    Dumb people do not design and build their own badass bike frames. Sorry, brother. You lost your dumb card with Bike #2.

    -Dinan

  11. @Cyclops

    As dumb as I am you’d think I’d be hella fast. But alas…

    (Kirk Lazarus voice) “Like the dumbest mother fucker that ever lived.”

    note: there was no way to resist this post

  12. @the Engine

    Ever wonder how many people around you have even been mildly out of breath in the last year?

    I suspect a large percentage of the people around us spend a lot of time out of breath. They’re too fat and unfit not to.

    I’m not convinced that the ability to crank it up a notch when you’re on the edge has anything to do with dumb. Surely the dumb ones are the ones who say “this is getting a bit  difficult, I’ll sack it in and let someone  else dot it”

    Frank was much closer to the mark with this.

    “The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”

    I love the fact that you and @Dinan view burying yourselves from such polar opposites, one of you likens it to shitting themselves, the other to sex. Does it make us seriously deviant that we all understand that we’re talking about the same thing?

  13. Was looking for something at work and by pure happenstance came across this:

    When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. “” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  14. @the Engine Who doesn’t love Conan Doyle? As an old riding partner of mine used to say and still says, “Riding makes everything better.” It is a bit like sex: sometimes it’s friendly and casual, easy fun; sometimes it’s rather more serious. And in both cases, it’s fucking awesome.

  15. @PeakInTwoYears

    @the Engine Who doesn’t love Conan Doyle? As an old riding partner of mine used to say and still says, “Riding makes everything better.” It is a bit like sex: sometimes it’s friendly and casual, easy fun; sometimes it’s rather more serious. And in both cases, it’s fucking awesome.

    Dude was an ophthalmologist as well.  What’s not to like???

  16. @PeakInTwoYears

    @the Engine Who doesn’t love Conan Doyle? As an old riding partner of mine used to say and still says, “Riding makes everything better.” It is a bit like sex: sometimes it’s friendly and casual, easy fun; sometimes it’s rather more serious. And in both cases, it’s fucking awesome.

    I’m sure that somewhere in the Canon is a reference to Holmes writing a monograph on “Why Cycling is Fucking Awesome”.

  17. @the Engine More likely he wrote extensively on his experiences of PEDs. The guy was a major league doper.

  18. @Chris

    @the Engine More likely he wrote extensively on his experiences of PEDs. The guy was a major league doper.

    When I wrote that I was going to make a Baroque reference comparing Holmes being on the juice to a cyclist active in the pro-peloton now but I couldn’t make it work

  19. @the Engine There may be a few dopers in the peloton but I wouldn’t have thought there were many whose mental capacity could be compared.

  20. @Chris

    @the Engine There may be a few dopers in the peloton but I wouldn’t have thought there were many whose mental capacity could be compared.

    Yeah – that was the circle I couldn’t square

  21. Casually Deliberate?

  22. @PeakInTwoYears

    Casually Deliberate?

    Now THAT is a hipster that I can get behind!

  23. @Buck Rogers

    For the briefest moment, I wondered about the walking stick in conjunction with the bike. But then I remembered that Holmes was expert in singlestick fighting as well as in the art of Bartitsu, which incorporated stick fighting. I don’t remember which story this is, but perhaps he’s anticipating the possibility of physical unpleasantness.

  24. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Buck Rogers

    For the briefest moment, I wondered about the walking stick in conjunction with the bike. But then I remembered that Holmes was expert in singlestick fighting as well as in the art of Bartitsu, which incorporated stick fighting. I don’t remember which story this is, but perhaps he’s anticipating the possibility of physical unpleasantness.

    You will recall my dear @PeakinTwoYears that Mr Holmes used Bartitsu in “The Adventure of the Empty House” on his return from the contretemps with Dr Moriarty at the Reichenbach falls. Sadly there is little if anything in the Canon on Mr Holmes’s cycling predilections – although he would have doubtless been off his tits on heroin whatever his mode of transport.

  25. @the Engine

    Well played, sir. Chapeau.

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