Time for a different kind of suffering.

The Janus of Suffering

The Janus of Suffering

by / / 68 posts

I came strongly into the Fall, stronger than in other years thanks to a late-season objective to do well at my first Heck of the North gravel classic in Minnesota. I was light and I had built good power and endurance by riding the steep gravel roads that pepper the North Cascades and suffering through brutal interval sessions on the windswept stretch of road along Shilshole Bay. I was good at hurting myself.

With the race behind me and the first of the next season’s objectives many months away, I entered into what in many ways is my favorite time of year to ride: Winter. The months between objectives at that time of year provides a kind of serenity on the bike that is hard to find when goals are looming. Focus shifts away from building a sharpness in the muscles and towards putting in long base kilometers at steady speeds. There is no need to push hard on the climbs, just slip into a nice tempo and explore the beautiful quiet of a steady rhythm.

With that serenity comes a different kind of suffering; not so acute but where the cold winds and rains harden the mind against the long hours of discomfort and somatic pain. Simply staying on the bike all day, riding from sun up to sun down, is suffering in itself. The willpower and discipline needed to hold the course and do the Work is itself an entirely different but very real kind of suffering – even if the suffering is not intense at any given moment.

But as Winter slowly loosens it grip and the days grow longer, so too do the objectives for the coming season loom nearer. It is time to pull myself out of steady rhythms and once again build towards the sharp sensations of a hard effort. I find I’ve nearly forgotten how to do it; my body resists the signals coming from the mind; its first impulse is to employ the Scotty Principle, I’m givin’ ‘er all she’s got captain! It seems my mind has forgotten that whenever it gets that message, there is always another 10 or 20 percent left to to be taken from the body.

Janus is the Roman god of beginnings and transitions; he has two faces – one looking to the past and one to the future. I’m transitioning from one kind of suffering into another; the work I did yesterday will make tomorrow’s ride a little bit better. My mind navigates through the mixed signals it receives, and the body responds and adapts. To transition is to explore the boundary between two seemingly separate entities. Science explores the boundary between ignorance and knowledge; art explores the boundary between reality and imagination; Cycling explores the boundary between the mind and body.

We are Cyclists. The rest of the world merely rides a bike.

// Etiquette // Nostalgia // Tradition

  1. @Mike_P

    @unversio

    @Mike_P

    From early December I’ve left the warmth of my bed and abandoned my family, out of the house by 6am every Saturday and Sunday. Rides of 2,3,4,5 now 6 hours, plus turbo sessions 3 times each week, as part of my return to some semblance of fitness and being the rider I’ve always wanted to be but have never been. I’ve dealt with weather as I’ve never managed to before and I’m still a long way from where i want to be. This needs to be a great season cos my poor VMW and kids need more of my time. This community has directly inspired this madness in me and I’m hugely grateful for it.

    VLVV

    Family time versus time on the bike. Around my household there is theme going on “” Sheetrock and Ride. I’m either handling the enormity of remodeling the house for the overall benefit of the wife, kids (3) and myself “” or “” riding whenever possible for the overall benefit of the wife, kids (3) and myself. When either are behind me, then there is just the benefit. Time and energy are gone, but the benefit is greater. And then I’ll go further “” not with the house though! Eventually the theme will be Ride and Ride.

    By which time I’ll be mostly riding the 4th cat geriatric class!

    Racing is racing. It’s all good if you are part of the race.

  2. @Doug

    This past winter I used The Sufferfest videos to help change up my winter riding. They are high intensity interval training videos and they make you SUFFER! I hit the road this past weekend for my first outdoor ride in 4 months and I cannot tell you how much better I felt than in previous years. I am a recreational rider/triathlete and I will most definitely be using these videos in future winters to help me push back on Scotty and say, “Dammit man I need more!”

    +1 Sufferfest videos.

  3. Ontario winter was brutal this year. This morning it was -18degreesC on my way to work! Got me a set of rollers. Just finished a quick HIIT session.  I like this one because I just put in the earbuds, keep the iPhone in the jersey pocket and focus on the V-meter–flat out. Nice to hear some encouragement, too: “Good effort–you’re looking strong!”

  4. @Ron

    Definitely looking forward to some spring & summer cycling. I’m at the point, which seems to happen every year, where I’m darn tired of pulling on so much gear just to ride. I know in a few months I’ll be tired of cooking under the sun and having to apply sunblock.

    I feel slow in full leg warmers and long sleeve jerseys. But I feel fast with tanned guns and short sleeves. I feel even faster in warm(ish) rain just cool enough to merit knee warmers, arm warmers and maybe a gillet. That is the ultimate.

    Had that Sunday, went about 15 minutes mo’fasta on the same route as I did the day before in sun and shorts.

  5. @Doug@cyclebrarian

    I’ve heard quite a lot about those damn Sufferfest vids. I’m going to have to check into that. Do they have one for the Hour Record? I’m envisioning an Obree-style training of threshold hour-long efforts on the trainer to prepare.

    @Joe

    Oh and I discovered a new (to me) wee brute of a hill out in my regular weekend stomping ground. Climbs 400m in 3k – not fun when rocking the winter Kaiser-belly on 11-25.

    Gravity-resisted training is a good way to start the season, just ask Bernard Hinault. The catch is you have to lose the weight by the time shit starts going down.

  6. @Velodeluded

    Agreed. Winter kilometres always appear to be the hardest on the surface, the kind that you don’t honestly want to do deep down inside. One completed then it’s another matter altogether as you gain that inner satisfaction of a job well done, the hurt turned out to be beneficial, the pain cave was not quite as dark as expected. Let summer wait, I’m enjoying the now.

    The Now is great, but when you realize you have to shake off that “steady as she goes” mentality, its a rude fucking awakening. I was toiling up a climb the other day wondering how I ever went so fast up  it. Then I just concentrated on making the pedals go round faster and before I knew it I was cruising. Easy as that.

  7. @Mike_P

    From early December I’ve left the warmth of my bed and abandoned my family, out of the house by 6am every Saturday and Sunday. Rides of 2,3,4,5 now 6 hours, plus turbo sessions 3 times each week, as part of my return to some semblance of fitness and being the rider I’ve always wanted to be but have never been. I’ve dealt with weather as I’ve never managed to before and I’m still a long way from where i want to be. This needs to be a great season cos my poor VMW and kids need more of my time. This community has directly inspired this madness in me and I’m hugely grateful for it.

    VLVV

    Top marks, mate. Top marks.

    @Fausto

    I’ve learnt this year that what I really need to kick start my training is a good kick up the arse. This year it came in the form of a team mate and regular training buddy handing my arse to me on an entirely normal weekend ride, to the point of bonking on the way home for the first time in years.

    What has followed has been a thorough exploration of the pain cave system via the means of sticking rigidly to ‘the plan’ come hell or, surprisingly frequently here in SW England, high water. Where the roads can’t deliver, the turbo has been the torture device of choice and I’ve found new highs in amongst the sweaty lows.

    I feel better this year than last, and hope that means I can go out there and do myself justice. I’ll be pretty hacked off if this has all been for nowt though.

    I’ll find out on Sunday…

    This, and if you’re like me and train mostly alone in Winter, then you won’t know until its hammer time.

  8. Nice write-up, Frank!

    My winter season started in October when I was cutoff by a car and hit their right rear door at about 30kph. (This only 10 weeks after my lovely RV incident on the 2nd Annual SF Bay Area Cogal.) While recovering from that, I came down with a Sinus infection that included 6+ weeks of such shitty dizziness that I felt I’d fall out of bed if I wasn’t gripping for dear life. Then in December I came down with another URI, constant nausea (which is still bugging me now), and such awesomeness as – and I have no fucking clue how the fuck this happened – a bilateral inguinal hernia, for which I had laporoscopic repair surgery mid-January.

    Once my surgeon gave me the a-ok to resume activities without restrictions, I took my Trek to my LBS, got it fixed, and started getting back out there. It really sucks that a 40km ride would do me in, when the weekend before the October car accident, I’d just completed a nice 137km organized ride with my brother.

    I’m slowly, but surely getting my legs back. Eventually, I’m sure my strength, endurance, and stamina shall return too. I have faith in Merckx on this.

  9. @paolo – very debatable my friend. Decker, Flores or Deer Creek, mebbe. Where I have newtons finest on my side….:)

    @Frank – gravity training is one thing, the top of that hill felt like a big wet vinegary sponge was being squeezed out in both thighs. Toxic. Will give it a go again in a couple pf weeks and see what new language i can come up with…

  10. I made an account just to comment. This is a great, great article.

    I work in Minneapolis as a messenger, and we feel it year round (because we ride all year, and if you’re not feeling it, why ride?), but the utterly different nature of winter’s physical and mental demands from those of summer isn’t always easy for me to describe. Minneapolis and St. Paul had exactly 50 days below 0F this winter, and I rode most of them. Often, it was a lot of fun, but every day I was exhausted, having only ridden at 2/3 speed about 1/2 as far as I usually ride in the summer.

    I’ve biked through winters before, but this one was rough, and at first, I was mentally unprepared to put those sorts of temperatures plus wind out of my mind and address the increasingly dubious road conditions (there were weeks on end where even the main roads seemed to have been zambonied). I’d never been robbed of my speed, then punished for not raising my heart-rate before. I also never really noticed how much my handling suffered when I was out of my comfort zone. Now, I have some sprint-practice and mild muscle rebuilding to do this spring on account of my pace reduction, but I see the last few months as an extended pain cave designed to make absolute focus an instinct rather than an effort.

    All nice days are the same, but each shitty day is shitty in its own way. Rule #9 isn’t an injunction for needless self-flagellation. Rule #9 is a reminder that the more extreme the conditions, the more rare, or even unique opportunities you’ll have that day to learn new and better ways to ride hard. Rules pertaining to etiquette and aesthetic are important and awesome, but to me, Rule #9 and others like it are the ones that truly make us cyclists.

    Go with Gaul

  11. Ten weeks away from my year’s objective, this week and the next two calling for a big step-up in training volume. Already glassy-eyed and zombified, and it’s only Tuesday…

  12. Normally at this time of year I’m in top shape… Keepers Tour looming, a summer of frequent long, hard rides behind me, tan lines crisp as a packet of Doritos.

    With the knowledge that I wouldn’t be on the cobbles this northern spring, my priorities shifted. After the previous two summers of fearing the mountain bike (so I’d not get injured before KT), I’ve been on the dirt a hell of a lot more than on the road this time. And it’s been the funnest summer for, well, two years!

    Now the days are shortening, the long evenings no longer around for a sneaky trail session, so the road bike has been in play a lot more over the last few weeks. And it’s a different kind of suffering altogether. Hills are attacked, whether I like it or not, due to my cruelly zealous riding mates… on the mtb we cruise to the top, and let it all hang out on the way down (so Enduro!). On the road, it’s a cacophony of constant tempo, sharp efforts and sprinting up anything that isn’t flat.

    I’m looking forward to the winter.

  13. @Fozzy Osbourne Strong work. Welcome aboard !!

  14. @Mike_P Thanks, man! This is an excellent site. I can’t wait to get more involved in discussion, especially if Cancellara tries the hour.

  15. @Xyverz Continued healing and fast road to recovery. Enjoy the ride on the journey to full health and fitness.

  16. @frank, the feeling of going from base to race is a whole ‘nuther ball game.  In the South, we’re already into race season.  It’s the first time I’ve done a real base effort – two months of 16-18 hour weeks – and that part of the motor is working well.  Taking it off cruise control and flooring it at my first crit of the season showed there’s a lot of work to be done on the top end.  I’m currently enjoying the top end work – “If I live through these intervals, I’ll be faster” – and it’s all good.

    Scratch that.  It’s all awesome.

  17. daylight savings…..Ah,… the signal for all the shops to start their weekly rides.  One in particular has me a bit nervous each Tuesday as I gather my gear together.  Tuesday Nights World Championship.  No idea how this ride got its name, but its mercilessly fast and punishing.  This will be the shock to my system, today, that I hope will be the barometer as to the success of my winter training.  Its a ride where I sometimes feel like I’m cheating death to simply reach down, and grab my bidon for a quick sip.  Rotating pace lines, angry demands from behind  to “PULL THROUGH DAMNIT” as your tongue drags the pavement.  Oh the joy!

    Yes, winter is over.  My first race is now less than a month away.  Bring on the speed, pain and sufffering.  Shut the fuck up legs, its time to enforce Rule #70.

  18. @Ron

    Excellent!

    Definitely looking forward to some spring & summer cycling. I’m at the point, which seems to happen every year, where I’m darn tired of pulling on so much gear just to ride. I know in a few months I’ll be tired of cooking under the sun and having to apply sunblock.

    +1 for truth.  I couldn’t help but marvel at enormous heap of clothing I had to strip off after my ride this weekend.  All I can think about is how much faster I am without all of that crap (and how much better I feel in the summer, when 75% of my energy output isn’t directed to simply staying warm!)

  19. Frank, As usual you nail it. Having left behind all the angst/joy of winter riding I look back fondly to all the hours put in on the days when the mercury was well below 32f. Once the decision to go was made and the layers were sorted the hard part was over. The fun was being out there where you had it all to oneself and the rest of the world had a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact you were out there at all, let alone on a bike.  Some of my favorite memories are from winter rides.

    @Fozzy Osbourne

    I made an account just to comment. This is a great, great article.

    I work in Minneapolis as a messenger, and we feel it year round (because we ride all year, and if you’re not feeling it, why ride?), but the utterly different nature of winter’s physical and mental demands from those of summer isn’t always easy for me to describe. Minneapolis and St. Paul had exactly 50 days below 0F this winter, and I rode most of them. Often, it was a lot of fun, but every day I was exhausted, having only ridden at 2/3 speed about 1/2 as far as I usually ride in the summer.

    I’ve biked through winters before, but this one was rough, and at first, I was mentally unprepared to put those sorts of temperatures plus wind out of my mind and address the increasingly dubious road conditions (there were weeks on end where even the main roads seemed to have been zambonied). I’d never been robbed of my speed, then punished for not raising my heart-rate before. I also never really noticed how much my handling suffered when I was out of my comfort zone. Now, I have some sprint-practice and mild muscle rebuilding to do this spring on account of my pace reduction, but I see the last few months as an extended pain cave designed to make absolute focus an instinct rather than an effort.

    All nice days are the same, but each shitty day is shitty in its own way. Rule #9 isn’t an injunction for needless self-flagellation. Rule #9 is a reminder that the more extreme the conditions, the more rare, or even unique opportunities you’ll have that day to learn new and better ways to ride hard. Rules pertaining to etiquette and aesthetic are important and awesome, but to me, Rule #9 and others like it are the ones that truly make us cyclists.

    Go with Gaul

    Fozzy, this has to be the best first post ever! You have put into words the feelings and experiences that I have had winter riding and that transition back to the warm. Especially the pure gold in that last paragraph! I look forward to those discussions about Cancellara’s bid. Thanks and welcome.

  20. @frank

    Top marks, mate. Top marks.

    An addendum though….why is it that now we are entering Spring, I’m finding my motivation to train on the slide?  Having put in all the effort over the winter I just want to ride, not stick to the plan, which will lead to a backslide.  Time to reflect on Rule #10 maybe.

  21. @frank

    @Doug, @cyclebrarian

    I’ve heard quite a lot about those damn Sufferfest vids. I’m going to have to check into that. Do they have one for the Hour Record? I’m envisioning an Obree-style training of threshold hour-long efforts on the trainer to prepare.

    @Joe

    Oh and I discovered a new (to me) wee brute of a hill out in my regular weekend stomping ground. Climbs 400m in 3k – not fun when rocking the winter Kaiser-belly on 11-25.

    Gravity-resisted training is a good way to start the season, just ask Bernard Hinault. The catch is you have to lose the weight by the time shit starts going down.

    Not sure if they have one for The Hour specifically, Frank, but if they do, you have to ride a bike that has washing machine bearings. Just sayin’.

  22. @Doug Ah, Sufferfest videos. Downloaded one and spent some time in the cave with it. When old man winter relented a bit in New England and I could get out for a proper ride, wow! I felt like I was riding like the wind! Turned out it was a tailwind, but still… The wind was not as much a factor on the next ride and the avg good for so early in the season. We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

  23. By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

  24. @Rob

    @Fozzy Osbourne


    All nice days are the same, but each shitty day is shitty in its own way. Rule #9 isn’t an injunction for needless self-flagellation. Rule #9 is a reminder that the more extreme the conditions, the more rare, or even unique opportunities you’ll have that day to learn new and better ways to ride hard. Rules pertaining to etiquette and aesthetic are important and awesome, but to me, Rule #9 and others like it are the ones that truly make us cyclists.

    Go with Gaul

    Fozzy, this has to be the best first post ever! You have put into words the feelings and experiences that I have had winter riding and that transition back to the warm. Especially the pure gold in that last paragraph! I look forward to those discussions about Cancellara’s bid. Thanks and welcome.

    +1!  Rules #5, #9, and #10 are the Trifecta of Awesomeness.  @Fozzy Osbourne You sound a little crazy.  Welcome to the asylum.

  25. @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

  26. @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    The VMH usually just points to the laundry room when I come home.

  27. @cyclebrarian

    @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    The VMH usually just points to the laundry room when I come home.

    I know it’s been a good V and 9 when I get home and the VMW says “Get in the shower and don’t bother getting undressed first”

  28. @Xyverz

    I’m slowly, but surely getting my legs back. Eventually, I’m sure my strength, endurance, and stamina shall return too. I have faith in Merckx on this.

    Dude, you are the unluckiest ever. Shitty. But yeah, your fitness will come back – more quickly than you think. Your body remembers how to do this stuff, all you have to do is put in the work and the rest will do itself.

    @brett

    Normally at this time of year I’m in top shape… Keepers Tour looming, a summer of frequent long, hard rides behind me, tan lines crisp as a packet of Doritos.

    You and me both, except the tan. Not too tan this end of the world yet. I’m glad the guns at least stay covered mostly for the time being; don’t want to cause traffic accidents.

    @Fozzy Osbourne

    I made an account just to comment. This is a great, great article.

    I work in Minneapolis as a messenger, and we feel it year round (because we ride all year, and if you’re not feeling it, why ride?), but the utterly different nature of winter’s physical and mental demands from those of summer isn’t always easy for me to describe. Minneapolis and St. Paul had exactly 50 days below 0F this winter, and I rode most of them. Often, it was a lot of fun, but every day I was exhausted, having only ridden at 2/3 speed about 1/2 as far as I usually ride in the summer.

    I’ve biked through winters before, but this one was rough, and at first, I was mentally unprepared to put those sorts of temperatures plus wind out of my mind and address the increasingly dubious road conditions (there were weeks on end where even the main roads seemed to have been zambonied). I’d never been robbed of my speed, then punished for not raising my heart-rate before. I also never really noticed how much my handling suffered when I was out of my comfort zone. Now, I have some sprint-practice and mild muscle rebuilding to do this spring on account of my pace reduction, but I see the last few months as an extended pain cave designed to make absolute focus an instinct rather than an effort.

    All nice days are the same, but each shitty day is shitty in its own way. Rule #9 isn’t an injunction for needless self-flagellation. Rule #9 is a reminder that the more extreme the conditions, the more rare, or even unique opportunities you’ll have that day to learn new and better ways to ride hard. Rules pertaining to etiquette and aesthetic are important and awesome, but to me, Rule #9 and others like it are the ones that truly make us cyclists.

    Go with Gaul

    Quite an entry – welcome!

    Minneapolis has a very cool Bike Messenger community; going back to Gene O and beyond.

    I completely agree with your last sentiment; you really hit the nail on the head and expressed it better than I’ve possibly ever seen it expressed. Top marks!

  29. @revchuck

    @frank, the feeling of going from base to race is a whole ‘nuther ball game. In the South, we’re already into race season. It’s the first time I’ve done a real base effort – two months of 16-18 hour weeks – and that part of the motor is working well. Taking it off cruise control and flooring it at my first crit of the season showed there’s a lot of work to be done on the top end. I’m currently enjoying the top end work – “If I live through these intervals, I’ll be faster” – and it’s all good.

    Scratch that. It’s all awesome.

    I think you really have to love the process, otherwise you’ll risk frustration. I love seeing the small changes. I’m working harder now and I love the way my lungs feel after a hard interval ride. Then even walking the stairs and feeling that my legs are harder and somehow feeling more sharp.

    You have to delight in the process and find the motivation that way.

    @Mike_P

    @frank

    Top marks, mate. Top marks.

    An addendum though….why is it that now we are entering Spring, I’m finding my motivation to train on the slide? Having put in all the effort over the winter I just want to ride, not stick to the plan, which will lead to a backslide. Time to reflect on Rule #10 maybe.

    Its not uncommon – I think we call this burnout but also you’re in a rhythm; just riding is fun and easy while sticking to a plan take discipline. I think the best advise I have is what @revchuck and I are saying.

    Stick to it mate.

  30. @Teocalli

    @cyclebrarian

    @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    The VMH usually just points to the laundry room when I come home.

    I know it’s been a good V and 9 when I get home and the VMW says “Get in the shower and don’t bother getting undressed first”

    I needed that laugh today, Teocalli! I rode the other day and decided to wear my 2mm kayaking gloves. When I got home, I could (literally) wring the sweat out of them. The VMH said ‘I can smell those nasty things from over here…washer, now!’ I think I subconsciously do those sorts of things just to get that kind of reaction.

  31. @Steve-o

    @Doug We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

    This.

    @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    I keep forgetting to pull it all out of the washing machine. Then she heads down there to wash some stuff and she’s like, “EVERY FUCKING TIME, YOU LEAVE THAT SHIT IN THERE!”

    …of course, half of the kit is hers, but still.

    @Teocalli

    @cyclebrarian

    @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    The VMH usually just points to the laundry room when I come home.

    I know it’s been a good V and 9 when I get home and the VMW says “Get in the shower and don’t bother getting undressed first”

    …or opening the garage door with the implication that there shall be no walking through the house in that state!

  32. @Fozzy Osbourne

    I made an account just to comment. This is a great, great article.

    I work in Minneapolis as a messenger, and we feel it year round (because we ride all year, and if you’re not feeling it, why ride?), but the utterly different nature of winter’s physical and mental demands from those of summer isn’t always easy for me to describe. Minneapolis and St. Paul had exactly 50 days below 0F this winter, and I rode most of them. Often, it was a lot of fun, but every day I was exhausted, having only ridden at 2/3 speed about 1/2 as far as I usually ride in the summer.

    I’ve biked through winters before, but this one was rough, and at first, I was mentally unprepared to put those sorts of temperatures plus wind out of my mind and address the increasingly dubious road conditions (there were weeks on end where even the main roads seemed to have been zambonied). I’d never been robbed of my speed, then punished for not raising my heart-rate before. I also never really noticed how much my handling suffered when I was out of my comfort zone. Now, I have some sprint-practice and mild muscle rebuilding to do this spring on account of my pace reduction, but I see the last few months as an extended pain cave designed to make absolute focus an instinct rather than an effort.

    All nice days are the same, but each shitty day is shitty in its own way. Rule #9 isn’t an injunction for needless self-flagellation. Rule #9 is a reminder that the more extreme the conditions, the more rare, or even unique opportunities you’ll have that day to learn new and better ways to ride hard. Rules pertaining to etiquette and aesthetic are important and awesome, but to me, Rule #9 and others like it are the ones that truly make us cyclists.

    Go with Gaul

    Chapeau to you sir! In in WI and it’s been brutal down here – I know you’ve had it worse. At least I get to choose when I ride – you do it for a living. I can’t imagine the shitty days you’ve had to ride in. Merckx knows I’ve done a few rides this year where drivers have easily questioned my sanity (as have I), but you’re right, it’s the extreme rides we do that we remember. Incidents aside, who remembers those nice rides on 70 degree days? It’s the 25 degrees with extra wind chill or 105 degrees with humidity that stick in the memory.

  33. @Doug ISLAGIATI is worthy of the name ‘sufferfest’. Holy crap, what a ride. BTW you can use the video with trainerroad.com and get power metrics added.

  34. @frank Man, Gene O is excellent. One on One is as highly regarded as anywhere in town, and Gene O treats the messengers that go there really, really well.

    I think Rule V and its logical extensions are the ones people who merely ride bikes get to ignore. For most of my friends, bikes are nice, relaxing tools for not-too-strenuous fun, commuting, or beer runs, and I think that’s awesome… for them. On really beautiful September Sundays, though, I see a lot of people on S-Works with Zipps, Dura Ace, and full Rapha (or worse, one time I saw a fucking USPS kit WITH the matching Maillot Jaune. Oof.) nervously coasting down hills on their hoods at 40kmph. There’s neither a kit nor a bike that could possibly mask such peoples’ lack of V. I like that.

    I also like the way you write. I care about reading, writing, and English as a language a great deal. Your thoughts on cycling (and Gianni’s, and Brett’s, etc…) have brought me back here daily for about a year, but you write like you love words as much as cycling, and it makes reading your work a lot of fun.

  35. @wiscot Ugly though it was (3 days with sub-Martian wind-chill indexes), there were always a lot of us working, and we were all in it together. Honestly, the solidarity friendships I made with coworkers and colleagues this winter was worth it, and I worry I’m just crazy enough to let hindsight turn these past three months into a fondly remembered obstacle (rather than a costly, painful bloodbath.)

    Good on you for choosing to ride! I ride because I love to, but it’s impossible to feel like I love it all the time, especially when it’s -0F. Seeing other people tearing it up on the iced-over roads of Hoth and elsewhere always reenforces in my mind that riding is all kinds of wonderful, and people will ALWAYS put up with worse just to bike, because biking is the shit.

  36. @Fozzy Osbourne “was” rough? I’m guessing winter might end this year around about August up in your parts ? Maybe ? Damn I sure give ya credit for riding / working right thru this season’s arctic polar plunge freeze in the great white north. And a Big Time Cheers from the Deep South, RC

  37. @Joe

    Yes, Griffith Park.  Love that circuit.  Give Encino Hills Drive a spin.  Catch it off Havenhurst…south of Ventura Blvd.  Take it up to Mulholland for one great view.

  38. @wilburrox Hahahaha yeah, it’s snowing here right now, but wearing one pair of socks tomorrow and knowing the snow will be gone in a few days makes it all better. The windiest days up here were when it was both coldest and really really icy, so you’d choose a line on any given road (for a few weeks, there were almost no dry roads), and literally be slid diagonally by gusts shooting through buildings or across the Mississippi. Snow can suck, sure, but the terror phase seems to be over, which makes everything feel a little like spring.

  39. @Optimiste If I admit it, does that mean I’m not crazy? In any case it’d be a shame not to be at least a little nuts, and I know most here agree. You guys are a slightly different breed of crazy than I (I’m just now saving for my first-ever road bike having ridden nothing but fixed for almost five years, I use mountain-bike pedals/shoes, have a beard, and wear jeans/jorts more often than not), but in principal, I can see that you sarcastic bastards and I (a fellow sarcastic bastard) get a lot of the same things from cycling. If I ever stop breaking components, maybe I’ll save up enough for a Cogal-ready bike and join you guys. Trying to keep up on a track bike would wreck my legs for a month.

  40. @Fozzy Osbourne

    @Optimiste If I admit it, does that mean I’m not crazy? In any case it’d be a shame not to be at least a little nuts, and I know most here agree. You guys are a slightly different breed of crazy than I (I’m just now saving for my first-ever road bike having ridden nothing but fixed for almost five years, I use mountain-bike pedals/shoes, have a beard, and wear jeans/jorts more often than not), but in principal, I can see that you sarcastic bastards and I (a fellow sarcastic bastard) get a lot of the same things from cycling. If I ever stop breaking components, maybe I’ll save up enough for a Cogal-ready bike and join you guys. Trying to keep up on a track bike would wreck my legs for a month.

    No.  Still crazy.  Yet somehow I think you can do more with 1 gear than many of us can do with the inordinate range of gears at our disposal.  (But keep the eardbay on the ownlowday.  There are somethings we don’t speak of, but if we must, only in hushed tones of contrition)

  41. @cyclebrarian

    @VeloSix

    @Ron

    By the end of the winter I also get tired of looking for places to hang wet cycling gear, especially in spots that won’t upset the VMH.

    Wet oversocks dripping on the hardwood floors can really put a damper on evenin’ romance…

    Ditto!

    The VMH usually just points to the laundry room when I come home.

    I am truly fortunate, in that I leave my stuff on top of the washer, the VMH runs the wash, and then directs me to hang the items I wish to not melt in the dryer.

  42. @frank

    @Steve-o

    @Doug We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

    This.

    Yes, this is the epitome of what I hate to love about cycling!

    Speaking of this suffering….  there was some talk a while back, maybe perhaps on several occasions, about asthma.   What I thought my being a pussy, and needing further meditation on Rule V, was actually asthma (brought on by the thing I was doing, exercising).  My doctor has assisted me in figuring out this heinous death-is-imminent symptom, and now my suffering has shifted to a new category.  So, at least I can breathe while I suffer, without the need to bring my steed to a stand still.

  43. @VeloSix  My sympathy to those who suffer from Asthma, there are many things in life that are optional.  Breathing is not one of them.

  44. @VeloSix

    @frank

    @Steve-o

    @Doug We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

    This.

    Yes, this is the epitome of what I hate to love about cycling!

    Speaking of this suffering…. there was some talk a while back, maybe perhaps on several occasions, about asthma. What I thought my being a pussy, and needing further meditation on Rule V, was actually asthma (brought on by the thing I was doing, exercising). My doctor has assisted me in figuring out this heinous death-is-imminent symptom, and now my suffering has shifted to a new category. So, at least I can breathe while I suffer, without the need to bring my steed to a stand still.

    Its not a joke, asthma is a serious shit. I almost died as an infant from this, and it continues to hit me as an adult, although I’ve learned how to control it (for me its a reaction not to exercise but to environment.) Training in the cold months, even with an inhaler, is like strength training for the warm months when I don’t need to dilate my trachea anymore!

  45. @frank

    @VeloSix

    @frank

    @Steve-o

    @Doug We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

    This.

    Yes, this is the epitome of what I hate to love about cycling!

    Speaking of this suffering…. there was some talk a while back, maybe perhaps on several occasions, about asthma. What I thought my being a pussy, and needing further meditation on Rule V, was actually asthma (brought on by the thing I was doing, exercising). My doctor has assisted me in figuring out this heinous death-is-imminent symptom, and now my suffering has shifted to a new category. So, at least I can breathe while I suffer, without the need to bring my steed to a stand still.

    Its not a joke, asthma is a serious shit. I almost died as an infant from this, and it continues to hit me as an adult, although I’ve learned how to control it (for me its a reaction not to exercise but to environment.) Training in the cold months, even with an inhaler, is like strength training for the warm months when I don’t need to dilate my trachea anymore!

    Slightly tangential but did you know cats can have asthma… mine’s seems to have shown up when I sent him to London. Guess the dry air of Dubai had hidden it.

    He is a very biddable cat and I would do anything for him but I don’t fancy trying to get an inhaler on.

  46. @frank

    @VeloSix

    @frank

    @Steve-o

    @Doug We cyclists seek to suffer in order to overcome the suffering. Non-cyclists don’t get it. It’s what puts us above the rest.

    This.

    Yes, this is the epitome of what I hate to love about cycling!

    Speaking of this suffering…. there was some talk a while back, maybe perhaps on several occasions, about asthma. What I thought my being a pussy, and needing further meditation on Rule V, was actually asthma (brought on by the thing I was doing, exercising). My doctor has assisted me in figuring out this heinous death-is-imminent symptom, and now my suffering has shifted to a new category. So, at least I can breathe while I suffer, without the need to bring my steed to a stand still.

    Its not a joke, asthma is a serious shit. I almost died as an infant from this, and it continues to hit me as an adult, although I’ve learned how to control it (for me its a reaction not to exercise but to environment.) Training in the cold months, even with an inhaler, is like strength training for the warm months when I don’t need to dilate my trachea anymore!

    I have never had the attacks like my Grandmother a father both would have.  On a few occasions as a kid I had mild attacks brought on by mowing the grass, and a few times as an adult during fall allergy season which amounted to a bit of wheezing.

    The experiences on the bike were much different.  They certainly made it a struggle to breathe, but more so from the perspective I just couldn’t take in the deep breathes I could while at rest.  So it was lots of short rapid breathes.  It also made it near impossible to recover once hitting a certain threshold.  If I experienced this on a climb, there was never a way to ease up and recover, I had to just stop.  Humiliating when riding with my race buddies on a race recon ride.

    I’ve now had two rides where I’ve used my inhaler pre ride; as instructed by my doctor.  Once on a climbing day, and the other a weekly club training ride.  Both very hard days in the saddle, each for their own respects.  I really thought I was being a pussy, and felt I just don’t have the motor for this.  It makes me such a different rider (and I don’t mean this sarcastic in any way) but I’ve prepared myself to be asked “What are you taking?” by the guys I ride with regular, who after the two rides, must notice the sudden difference.

  47. I “grew out” of my asthma as a kid, but then like an idiot I hit the cancer sticks for a few years during college, and now I’m stuck with occassional symptoms during cold weather of when I get sick.  Advair works for keeping it under control for me.  For my family it’s a way of life–I have it, my wife has it, and 3/4 kids have it.  I kinda forget how terrifying it can be if you don’t really know what’s going on!

  48. @The Oracle I became rather fixated on my HR monitor once I figured out what my red zone was.  It was definitely a rev limiter for me.  It was nice to realize that paying little attention to it Tuesday (on what is likely the hardest I ever rode), and later review the ride to realize how hard I pushed it, but still recovered without being spit out the back.  There is a new joy brewing in regards to my riding.

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  50. Heck of the North is going to hurt me this year. But I guess that happens no matter how much training one has done.

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