The Paradox of Maturity

The Portet d'Aspet

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.

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160 Replies to “The Paradox of Maturity”

  1. @frank
    Excellent, glad to hear the preparations are going well and on target. It is going to be a nail biting morning (evening) for us. If Gianni is slow on the live video can we get on the road updates?

    Nate has a good point that bike of yours is way better than a lousy ring that could rule them all.

    Lastly we are still looking for Gianni’s prediction and any one else – ?

  2. @frank
    May The V be with you Frank. You’re living a dream of mine right now.

    Often, people say, “Oh I’m going to Hawaii” and I respond, “I’m not in good enough shape to go to Hawaii.” Which always draws a quizzical response, as to a typical (read: lazy) American, I appear fit. But on Hawaii loom the three monsters: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala. The three sisters that represent three of the longest paved climbs in the world (if not THE three longest). A dream vacation would include climbing all three in a glorious week of suffering. Someday.

  3. @Collin

    The climbs on the Big Island are different in that they are not just one climb. The Saddle road between them rolls up and down (mostly up). Haleakala is almost completely – except for maybe 200m – uphill with no respite. Also, neither Mauna Kea nor Mauna Loa are paved all the way to the top and the pavement on both stops well short of the 10,023 foot mark.

  4. @Frank

    When you get to the parking lot at the top, roll straight through and pedal up the walking path to the observation hut at the top. That’s an extra 20-30 vertical feet that I know you wouldn’t want to cheat yourself out of…

  5. @Cyclops
    Brave call!

    “Frank Vs. The Volcano”
    1) Rob – 3:51.25
    2) Jeff in PetroMetro-3:35:35
    3) Steampunk – 4:27.18
    4) G’phant – 4:14.9
    5) Marko – 4:06.46
    6) xyxax – 3:52.12
    7) Chris – 4:12.37
    8) Nate – 3:59:45
    9) Geoffrey “” 5:01:01
    10) sgt – 4:42:36
    11) Collin – 4:17.29
    12) mcsqueak – 4:45:01
    13) JFT – 3:58:30
    14) Buck Rogers – 4:25.36
    15) 3cross – 3:57:13
    16) Cyclops – 3:29.0

  6. @Rob OK, I finally putting in my guess. The weather should be OK, light and variable winds usually means no 60 kph trade winds but it also means it could be hotter for the pasty white hairless Dutch Monkey.

    I will be the DS behind the wheel and Michelle will be typing in the tweeted updates from the co-pilot seat. I’m installing the cheap megaphone on the car roof so I can yell “venga, venga, venga” for hours on end. We will shoot video from my lame little flip video camera and it will require a day or two to edit it down to something slightly cool. But there should be a lot of footage of him chewing on his aluminum handlebars as he climbs for hour after hour after hour.

    I hope he easily breaks four hours. I hoped I could break five hours so at least I’m giving him credit for beating me by more than an hour. He may climb well for his weight but damn it’s a lot of up and there is no place to hide. Better him than me.

    “Frank Vs. The Volcano”
    1) Rob – 3:51.25
    2) Jeff in PetroMetro-3:35:35
    3) Steampunk – 4:27.18
    4) G’phant – 4:14.9
    5) Marko – 4:06.46
    6) xyxax – 3:52.12
    7) Chris – 4:12.37
    8) Nate – 3:59:45
    9) Geoffrey “” 5:01:01
    10) sgt – 4:42:36
    11) Collin – 4:17.29
    12) mcsqueak – 4:45:01
    13) JFT – 3:58:30
    14) Buck Rogers – 4:25.36
    15) 3cross – 3:57:13
    16) Cyclops – 3:29.0
    17) Gianni – 3:36:00

  7. @all
    My wonderfully amazing VMH (who just demonstrated how to open a beer bottle with a Leatherman and have it hold onto the cap) has agreed to provide live updates via our Twitter feed @velominati.

    Cheers.

  8. Oh god I love women who are stronger and more technical than me. My WA-VMH does all the techie stuff in our house cause I am basically in the 14th C. But the Leatherman thing whoooaa!

    Anyway the twitter thing has just been explained to me and I thank Ms.M in advance.

    Go well Frank! May the wind be at your back, the hill seem to rise up to meet you as your guns fire in perfect synchronicity with the effortless grace that we all have come to expect from our fearless leader!

    And Gianni hold that camera steady when your shouting “Venga, venga, venga” we want a Federico Fellini la Dolce Velominati film.

  9. Good luck Frank!

    Are you going to do the proper start, all the way down at the ocean with a toe in the water?

  10. I have no idea what sort of time Frank is capable of, or much about the climb for that matter, but I’ll put my dime in anyway.

    “Frank Vs. The Volcano”
    1) Rob – 3:51.25
    2) Jeff in PetroMetro-3:35:35
    3) Steampunk – 4:27.18
    4) G’phant – 4:14.9
    5) Marko – 4:06.46
    6) xyxax – 3:52.12
    7) Chris – 4:12.37
    8) Nate – 3:59:45
    9) Geoffrey “” 5:01:01
    10) sgt – 4:42:36
    11) Collin – 4:17.29
    12) mcsqueak – 4:45:01
    13) JFT – 3:58:30
    14) Buck Rogers – 4:25.36
    15) 3cross – 3:57:13
    16) Cyclops – 3:29.0
    17) Gianni – 3:36:00
    18) Oli – 3:44:15

    Allez, Frank!!

  11. To be honest I do not think anyone including Frank knows what he is capable of and who among us has ever climbed 35 miles???

    The times are still in the 3:35 to 5:01 range so we all think Frank will ride honorably and not bonk – or at least recover enough to finish within 5:01. Geoffrey is an old hand here and wise as a fox – does he know our man – maybe he understands that Franks Dutch Monkey self will start fast but fade to a crawl…

    Could he do a 3:35? Jeff in PetroMetro has shown a depth of understanding of the Metier and perhaps he can judge the variables from his intellectual heights.

    The rest of us may only be projecting our own overblown imaginary or past hill climbing abilities… but will Frank match or surpass our fantasies??

    Now we wait.

  12. Good on ya Brett.

    “Frank Vs. The Volcano”
    1) Rob – 3:51.25
    2) Jeff in PetroMetro-3:35:35
    3) Steampunk – 4:27.18
    4) G’phant – 4:14.9
    5) Marko – 4:06.46
    6) xyxax – 3:52.12
    7) Chris – 4:12.37
    8) Nate – 3:59:45
    9) Geoffrey “” 5:01:01
    10) sgt – 4:42:36
    11) Collin – 4:17.29
    12) mcsqueak – 4:45:01
    13) JFT – 3:58:30
    14) Buck Rogers – 4:25.36
    15) 3cross – 3:57:13
    16) Cyclops – 3:29.0
    17) Gianni – 3:36:00
    18) Oli – 3:44:15
    19) Brett – 4:52.0

  13. frank :
    @allMy wonderfully amazing VMH (who just demonstrated how to open a beer bottle with a Leatherman and have it hold onto the cap) has agreed to provide live updates via our Twitter feed @velominati.
    Cheers.

    Very nice! Best of luck!!! Go Pantani on it’s ASS!!!

  14. @frank
    The snow is deep and we are happy to draw out the suspense!

    I hope Gianni has the right embrocations for the guns and has prepared his secret bidon mixtures to help you fly to the top.

    Good luck!

  15. Good luck, Frank!

    I’m pumped to see how you do. That video of Ryder is pretty good. Damn, 89 rpms when he broke it. Only the PROS can spin like that up a volcano for 57 km. Incredible.

  16. as per twitter earlier – “@dwbeever: @velominati @frank as your website is in taper mode, i’ll tweet my entry – 4h4m4s – anything inside of that with be totally V!”

  17. “Frank Vs. The Volcano”
    1) Rob – 3:51.25
    2) Jeff in PetroMetro-3:35:35
    3) Steampunk – 4:27.18
    4) G’phant – 4:14.9
    5) Marko – 4:06.46
    6) xyxax – 3:52.12
    7) Chris – 4:12.37
    8) Nate – 3:59:45
    9) Geoffrey “” 5:01:01
    10) sgt – 4:42:36
    11) Collin – 4:17.29
    12) mcsqueak – 4:45:01
    13) JFT – 3:58:30
    14) Buck Rogers – 4:25.36
    15) 3cross – 3:57:13
    16) Cyclops – 3:29.0
    17) Gianni – 3:36:00
    18) Oli – 3:44:15
    19) Brett – 4:52.0
    20) Beev – 4:04.4
    21) Clayton Charles Pruzinsky – “Ž2:42:37 (via Facebook)
    22) Robert Allan McLaren – “Ž3:59:59 (via Facebook)

    Your in Beev, maybe the last.

  18. Shit, I thought we were talking minutes, not hours! Better revise my time, the big fella has a sub-4 in him for sure.

    3.52

    I expect a nest of wasps to be inhaled.

  19. just got back from a ride & with the time difference may be too late! Checked Twitter & last update was an hour ago – Sydney time – 10am & he was sub 4hrs!
    I’ll take 4:02:54 if I’m not too late?

  20. Looks like @Steampunk takes it again. Damn you’re good Steampunk. Now, do you keep yellow or switch to the V-kit jersey?

    Way to go frank! You got at least a few dozen people living vicariously through you today. Nice.

    And thanks Gianni and Michelle

  21. yes too late for me but well done frank!

    Wow @steampunk gets it to the minute. Well played to you sir as well

  22. Great going Frank! Rehydrate generously.

    Chapeau, Steampunk, that’s kind of scary.

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

  24. 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.

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

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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:

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

  31. 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.

  32. @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.

    @Ron

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

  33. 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…

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

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