The Paradox of Maturity

The Paradox of Maturity

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Although we find our way to the bicycle by different path, we all share the fact that at some point, this simple and elegant machine captured our imaginations. It became something more than simply a means to travel about, get exercise, or compete – it became something central to our lives.

Somehow and by different means, La Volupte seduced each of us. We became hypnotized by the rhythm of the cyclist’s life, by the movement of the machine. There might have been a moment where the machine which once hardly obeyed our commands suddenly surrendered to our every desire; we only needed to push upon the pedals a bit harder in order to coax more speed from the machine.

Then we made a fundamental discovery: the pleasure to be found from pushing ourselves beyond our limits. The simplicity found in the singular focus when all ancillary thought is shut down as we steel our mind against the strain of the effort. In truth, the pleasure comes less from the suffering but from the knowledge that we overcame the impulse to relent. We join a minority who, in a small way, triumph over our very nature.

With this discovery comes a kind of Stockholm Syndrome as we fall in love with everything bicycle-related – from the beauty of the machine itself to every bit of history and culture that surrounds it. We have transformed into a Velominatus.

As we mature as cyclists, we turn our focus towards improvement of the Craft: we crave a more Magnificent Stroke, to become stronger, to go Steady Up with More Speed. As the hardships of our sport become a constant companion, their novelty is diminished. The novelty of pushing ourselves fades; it becomes a routine component of our Work to become better cyclists.

Throughout, the cycle gains momentum. Every year, we become faster, stronger, harder. We might even forget why we love the sport as we lose ourselves in our quest for improvement. Thresholds, speeds, distances, wattage, elevation; these metrics replace the beautiful simplicity of La Vie Velominatus, which is fundamentally about the love of the bike and cycling at large.

But every cycle has its peaks and valleys and with each Summer spent narrowing the two-month gap to finding peak form, those of us who know how to train properly will fill our Winters building our base condition with longer, low intensity rides which throw us back to those basic sensations that drew us into the sport originally: the smell of the air, the sound of our tires as they flirt with the pavement or earth, the rhythmic breathing, the freedom of riding a bicycle.

Each Fall, as the skies grey and the rain begins to fall, I’m struck by my sudden rediscovery of the original reasons I love cycling. With my season’s goals many months away, the micromanagement of my condition and performance gives way once more to the pleasure of the ride. If I feel strong (which rarely happens during this time of year) and the desire to push myself shows itself, I may do it. If not, I don’t. It doesn’t matter at that time of year – just spending time on the machine is more than enough to pay dividends when the days grow longer and the sun returns to the sky. Rain, shine, cold, warm – I hardly notice the difference as I am once more reminded of the reasons why I love to ride my bike.

// Technique // Technology // Tradition

  1. Great going Frank! Rehydrate generously.

    Chapeau, Steampunk, that’s kind of scary.

  2. Missed it by 1 min 24 seconds!!! Damn, so close!!! Well done Steampunk (and well done Frank, too!) :)

  3. Great effort, Mate. You’ve deserved copious hydration tonight – assuming you have enough energy to lift the V- chalice to your parched lips. Thanks for arranging the twit-feeds, Gianni and Michelle. It took something of this significance to make me investigate Twitter.

  4. Oh, and outstanding effort Steampunk. Bodes ill for the rest of us when the VSP starts up again. Have you been eating Spanish beef … ?

  5. Frank well ridden, well played you did not let the sleeping giant slay you! Really for the middle of winter and no real training for this type of effort you have done well – how many of us could do better or get close…not me. The last hour must have been pretty grim but you laid down the V and Rule #5, way to go.

    Trojan work by Michell and Gianni, it was fun reading the reports until I had to accompany my VMH to a very bad movie. Can’t wait for the video!

    Steampunk you are genius, how did you know?

  6. Great work frank, may you rehydrate properly and on a lovely Maui beach. Thanks Gianni and Michelle for the twitterage. Looking forward to the video once you’ve finished whatever soingeuring the athlete needs. And S’punk, am in awe of your prognostication.

  7. Way to go, Big Fellow Frank! That’s awesome. In the middle of winter to have to put up with a time change, a climate change…and 10,000 feet of climbing, just finishing is very impressive. Lift the V-chalice!

    @ G’phant. Yeah, I’ve steered very clear of twatter. Would have used it for this if I’d been around. Yep, I agree – only something as significant as our Founder doing this ride would make me go near that thing.

    @ Rob. What movie? I was dragged to the King’s Speech last week and was bored for, oh, just about all of it. Not my type of movie.

    Nice going, Steampunk.

    I just got from a Sunday morning ride. Visiting the (future) in-laws and was able to find a local ride. A lot of these people ride often and a lot of them do this particular ride weekly. Somehow, which I can’t figure out, they have absolutely no clue how to work in a paceline. It’s fucking bizarre. One guy sits up front for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, then someone finally pulls up on the left and starts sprinting ahead, breaking up the group. Huh? It’s not that hard. I’m baffled by it. Done it twice now and there is absolutely no working together. Weird.

    And bugger, can’t recall the last time I’ve been sick but feel week, have the chills, and feverish and I leave for Prague on Tuesday. Maybe it’s just the in-laws making me feel this way.

    Happy Sunday all!

    Good work, Frank!!

    Nice work, Steampunk!

  8. 9 Bidons and 5 packs of power blocks did nothing to stop me from bonking at about 7500 feet. The last half of the climb was a march towards imminent disaster; somewhat what I imagine doing the Hour Record is like. I was on a good time towards the bottom. By 20k to go, I wasn’t thinking about time and just trying to get up. Suffice it to say the Volcano takes this one.

    Thanks to everyone in the community for turning this into a sadistic suffer fest rather than a nice Saturday afternoon ride up a hill. Everyone’s support is appreciated.

    Gianni and my VMH apologize for the stop in Twitter updates when the signal died. There’s only so much “hope” can do in terms of cell reception.

    Full account coming, but here’s a teaser.

    DS Gianni:

    Frank in agony at the summit:

  9. Official final time: 4:27.47. Bearing in mind I felt good for about 27 minutes of that effort. The first 27 minutes.

  10. Wow, both of those photos are great; the second one is superb. Damn, those last 20 kms sound brutal. Good on ya, Frank!

    Looking forward to the video.

  11. @frank

    Wow, Frank, that image is an inspiration.
    particularly if those stains on your shoulder are due to Rule V-related brain melt dripping from your ears.


    Flu? Infectiousness is a good way to get a break from the in-laws. As is going to Prague, for that matter.

  12. @frank
    Way to represent, Frank! Beautiful ride and effort.

  13. Kickass, Frank. You certainly deserve a cold local brew on the beach for sure. I can’t wait to read the whole account and see the video. Riding up Haliakala is a future goal of mine, as I’ve driven it before, but I’m several years off from peaking at this point…

  14. I think I’m going to have to start a savings fund so I can get to Hawaii to do this climb in the next couple years. The twitching in my legs reading all this is a sure sign it has to happen.

  15. What’s going on in that photo? Did you pull a heart muscle, or are the wasps rebelling inside your lungs?

    Nice work young lad, the V-dribble on your shoulder is testament to your effort.

  16. Frank, Frank, Frank…You frigging did it and now go have a vacation! Or do you have to get on a plane and go to work tomorrow in true Hardman style?? I hope not, you deserve big bucks and podium girls (Michelle and Beth?)! What of Gianni – that look is either you did not break the 4 barrier or he did not get enough liquid replacement himself?

    Thank you for making the weekend totally riveting – hehe – You are our hero and have laid down the V for the future attempts by Velominatus on the Volcano.

  17. That’s right, Steamer is in Cuba smoking Diplomaticos (which are much better than that virginia slim looking supersonic hanging out of Gianni’s mug) and mainlining Mojitos. If Fidel didn’t have such a stranglehold on the interwebs down there he’d know he won.

    I think the dried liquid on frank’s shoulder is lava from the volcano itself.

  18. You know after a few beers and sitting cogitating on this whole volcano thing I am reminded of a certain racer that finished the 6th and final stage of a race on an island in another sea. The Spanish speaking news paper printed a photo of the joyous winner crossing the finish line arms raised. The only problem was the photo was from the waist up – no bike in sight. When he got home all the proud young racers team mates told him the photo was a fake and he never won anything…he was just sitting in a chair when they staged the photo.

    I am wondering if we have been played? Think about it, the build up, the tweets and then images that seem to good to be true? I mean there is no bike, there is no VMH, there is frank doing an impression of Tyler Hamilton on top of Mt. Washington and what the fuck is Gianni doing???

    This may be the biggest hoax since Pharmstrongs escapades, I want proof – real pictures, videos, eye witnesses. Now!

  19. @Rob

    I am waiting to see the video. If recorded well, it should be “epic”.

    I went on a little jaunt yesterday, and while climbing a 200 meter hill I was certainly contemplating Frank’s hardman feat.

  20. @frank

    Good work mate, hills are not a friend to us fellows over 6 foot two. You represented. I am thinking it was Eros Poli-esque yes? My “how fit am i really” 5km, 8% climb is embarrassing now!

  21. Great photo frank.

    xyxax :
    Wow, Frank, that image is an inspiration.particularly if those stains on your shoulder are due to Rule V-related brain melt dripping from your ears.

    precisley put

  22. Well done, Frank! I can’t imagine climbing anything for a steady 4+ hours. That’s gotta feel like both brake calipers snug against the rims. I still wanna try it, though. You are a Hardman.

  23. frank, awesome climb… echo all posts above. You look positively GREY in the photo above… surefire symptoms of someone who, whilst adhering to the principle of Rule #5, has set out categorically to prove Rule #10.

    Well done, sir… an inspiration to us all. In the time taken to run a typical marathon time you cycled uphill the entire time.

  24. @Marko et al.
    Fidel called me and passed on the tweet reports personally. Very kind of him, under the circumstances. 4:27 seemed about right, given the distance, the climb, the altitude, the insanely long seatpost, and my just bashing a bunch of keys together to guess at the time. The formula is quite intricate, really. I’d much prefer a V-jersey icon to my tainted yellow. Clenbuterol is tasty, though. Nothing seasons steak quite like it.

    Nothing like sitting on the beach surrounded by fat and drunk Canadians and Russians to make you want to put down the mojito and get on the bike. “Nothing like” and “actually doing something about it,” however, are two very different things. After Marko’s Sensei piece from a week ago, big respect also needs to go out to Gianni, who clearly has a DS style all his own.

    Lots of teams seemed to be training around Varadero. Cuban or from some other Latin American country? Of course, the roads around the touristy parts were terrific””and the only decent roads on the island…

  25. A little over a year ago. Great stuff, love the article, Frank!

    My goal for 2012 is to just have fun with cycling. I need to focus on a lot of other things in my life off the bike (wedding the VMH, finishing my degree) so I want riding to just be fun & a release/relief from the other stuff. Plus, if I focus for a few months on my work, I’ll be finished and still have plenty of time to snap myself into form for cyclocross in the fall.

    I’m going to do my best to ride as often as time permits, but to just ride and not worry about distance, speed, etc.

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