My dilemma has been resolved. I’m going to do the Degani Kinglake ride and try to ease myself into rides that include a serious hill climb by doing the 70km one. Means I’ll probably be doing it on my own as the other person I know who’s doing it is going to do the 120km version. I suppose I could give the 120km one a crack. I have some time to train for it and I should be setting myself a challenge. If worse comes to worse and I find myself defeated by the hills, I’ll just have to get off and walk for a bit. Like no one has ever done that before!
Still, I think a lot of my problems are that I always tell myself I can’t do it. My attitude is one of defeat from the onset. The stupid thing is that I’m aware that I’m doing it. I told myself that Yarra Boulevard was too hard for me and I’m riding that twice a week now with improvement. Tiny little increments of improvement but still improvement. So why I do I always underestimate what I can do? It’s a similar thing to when I go clothes shopping, I always assume things aren’t going to fit. When I was in San Fran trying on jeans I had to go down three sizes before finding the right ones. I think that I’m still disgustingly fat even though I know I’m not. Okay, I’m still on the chubby side but I’m nowhere near as big as I was.
So, in my head, I’m still incapable of doing over 60km on the bike even though I knocked over 75km last weekend. I still think of myself as being weak when I’m probably not. I feel like I’m not improving on the bike at all but the question is am I actually restricting myself because of my attitude? I really don’t believe I can do 100km or that I can get up the big hills. My attitude from the onset is one of defeat and that’s stupid. Maybe I just need some encouragement and a bit of a nudge but I don’t know where to get it from.
I’m wondering if I’ve lost sight of why I ride. When I have a good ride, I feel sensational for the rest of the day but when it’s hard or I struggle, it knocks me for six. It was ridiculously cold yesterday morning so I was wearing multiple layers to keep warm, including a beanie which only just fit under my helmet and two pairs of gloves. But that left me feeling uncomfortable on the bike so it was a really hard ride. My friend who I was riding with has leapt past me in fitness and he left me behind on the hills and once or twice on flat sections. Plus, I underestimated how much energy I was burning and I took too long to eat so I started to feel really light-headed. I was on the verge of bonking and only just managed to stop it by sucking down an energy gel. It was a hard ride and I was really glad to get off the bike, which isn’t helping my attitude now because it looked like it was a cruise for my riding partner. But I did get up a footbridge with what must be at least a 15% grade that I couldn’t do before. I was very worried I was going to tip over but I did it so go team me!
I’m full of sighs about my SIDI shoes. I had a bike fit on Saturday which was quite interesting. My arm reach (fully extended with right finger tips touching the ground and left arm stretching up) is actually bigger than my height and I can reach about 2cm past the tips of my toes when sitting on the floor. He measured my shoes, my feet, my height, my bike, just about everything he could think of. He was pleased with the way I sit on the bike, especially with a back injury. He actually said he thought he’d have to make a few changes but he didn’t change anything at all. All he did was put my seat down a little as he felt I was stretching out a little too much.
He videoed me on the bike wearing both pairs of shoes and I’m not doing anything different that would cause the pain I’m experiencing with the SIDIs. However, measuring the shoes showed that the SIDS are a tiny bit smaller than the Shimanos, which is weird considering the SIDIs are marked a size bigger. They’re a narrower shoe and more rigid which he thinks is causing the pain. I have to decide what to do about them. Do I continue with them and try to stretch them in the hope the pain will stop? Or do I cut my loses and sell them? At the moment I’m thinking of selling them. They seem to be more hassle then they’re worth and there are plenty of other shoes out there.
You’d think by now no one would care as Armstrong has been accused so many times before and it’s never gone anywhere. Either Armstrong is clean or he’s the best drug cheat on the planet seeing as he keeps getting away with it. Landis is pointing the finger at everyone in the U.S. Postal Service team, including George Hincapie who I’ve always liked, as well as cycling officials both American and international.
The thing is, why now? Why wait nearly four years after being stripped of a Tour de France win and fighting the charges for so long before making these accusations? Wouldn’t it have been better to said all this in 2006 when his voice would’ve still had some weight and to a degree been believable. By waiting so long and taking a line of “deny, deny, deny, deny” he’s destroyed his credibility. It’s very difficult to believe someone who swore black and blue he wasn’t doping and set up a foundation for donations to use for his various court cases. People donated a substantial amount of money and he used it in an attempt to clear his name even though he knew he was lying. How can you believe someone who was willing to do that?
I’m not sure why this is bothering me so much when Armstrong has been accused so many time before. I didn’t really know who Landis was before he won the 2006 Tour de France and I’m sure I’m not the only one. He came out of nowhere to win the most prestigious cycling race in the world. I wasn’t really surprised when he tested positive.
I suppose it’s the timing of it that’s bothering me and the way he’s going about it. It has the feel of a man who knows he’s going down and has decided to take everyone down with him. It’s very hard to believe him because I feel he destroyed his credibility by sitting on his accusation for so long while maintaining his innocence.
The other thing is that I really don’t want Armstrong to be a drug cheat. I want him to be clean because for him to be a drug cheat would utterly diminish everything he achieved. I’ve always admired him even though I know he’s a bit of an arsehole. For someone who should be dead, he’s achieved amazing things. If Landis is right and Armstrong is a cheat, it’s all been a huge con.
My original plan was to do the 180km (!!) Fruit Loop Ride. At first, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to complete the ride having not broken 100km as yet but that’s something that can be easily fixed. Plus there’s a 14km climb in the later part of the ride which is a bit of a concern for me. Climbing is difficult for me and I am trying to improve but I have serious doubts about my ability to manage such a climb after already been on the bike for about 100km. I know I’m strong but I don’t know if I’m that strong. My other problem is that I don’t have the time to do enough hill training to feel 100% certain I could do it. So, this weekend, I decided to do the 100km ride instead. There’s a few small hill climbs in that ride too but I know they’re ones I can manage.
The Kinglake Ride is 70km but has a decent climb in the middle of it. I feel I could actually achieve this and that it’s not beyond my capabilities. It just fits better in my head. Plus, even though the entry fee does seem a little steep (Fruit Loop is cheaper), I’d get a nice jersey out of it. It also has the advantage of being much closer to Melbourne and to see part of the state I haven’t visited before. A lot of cyclists rave about the riding around Kinglake so it’d be something to experience and I’d learn a new route.
But I have to make a decision soon because the Kinglake ride is capped and I know it’s rather popular.
Anyhoo… I’m getting a bike fit next Saturday. I’m really hoping the guy I’m seeing will be able to sort out my shoe issues. I’m also very curious to see what he says about my position on the bike. I feel pretty comfortable so I can’t imagine there will be too much, if anything, to change. I’m really hoping he can get my shoes right, otherwise I wasted $300 when it could’ve been spent on a nice piece of comic book art. If I really can’t wear the SIDIs, I’ll just have to sell them and get something else. Just sucks because I really did like them.
Oh, and I made it to Mordialloc and back yesterday. All 75kms. I must admit I did feel a small sense of achievement when I got home. I felt I’d really earned a nanna nap on the couch – not something I usually do.
I’ve been reading comics for a while now and on the whole, there’s not much to get that excited about. There are some great stories and some great art but on the whole, it’s average stories and art I’m meh about. But on occasion, there’s a diamond waiting to be discovered. Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is one of those rare diamonds. I don’t think I’ve read a single issue that I haven’t loved and that’s a quite a feat considering how many issues there are. It’s taken me over a year to buy all the volumes – up to vol. 23 now which is the most recent one. (I mean, what’s not to love about a rabbit samurai?)
Today I read Usagi Yojimbo issue 93 – Chanoyu. And this particular issue is astounding. So good I had to read it again straight away. It’s a powerful illustration of how a story can be told with little or no dialogue and that you don’t need the characters to say everything single thing that comes into their heads. Sometimes the best stories are told without words.
There are so many artists out there who should be paying close attention to Usagi Yojimbo because it’s a master class in how to tell great stories in a simple fashion without all the noise.
For those interested, Chanoyu is the Japanese formal tea ceremony. Tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century. Chanoyu rose to prominence in the 14th and 15th centuries and is still practiced today. There are variations of the ceremony but the one so beautifully illustrated in Usagi Yojimbo is one where the participants speak very little. The idea is to commune on a spiritual level rather than by using words.