Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tete a Chrono - FNF

Head to time…race against the clock….the race of truth….the pain cave

I’ve been time trialing a lot lately. The Good Folks at Speed Merchant Aerodynamics Research and Testing (SMART) set me up on a cheap knock-off of a carbon Pinarello TT bike. I used it ‘in anger’ for the first time at the Rye-By-The-Sea duathlon this past june. It was pathetic. Partially due to my inherent lack of TT skills, and partially due to the weather - a cold windy rain coming off the ocean for almost ½ the course made my legs tight. My toes actually got cold, and I found myself going into the small chainring for the rather inconsequential hill at the end of the bike leg.

I then participated in a TT that was part of the Maine TT series. A 13ish mile very flat course. I maintained a 24.4 mph average speed, which I didn’t consider to be too terrible considering I didn’t even predrive the course.

But then I did the old standard – the Concord-Carlise TT – aka the Charlie Baker Time Trial. This TT has been around in several iterations for about 40 years. It’s the same basic course, but the start and finish points have changed over time. I set my previous PR about 20 years ago. Back then the start and finish were at the same point for a loop distance of 10.8 miles. It wasn’t a particularly fast time, but it was good for me. I finished in 24:55, at an average speed of a hair over 26 mph.

Last week, 20 years later, they have the finish about a mile sooner than the start. I ripped it up in 23:09, for an average of 25.4 mph.

True, that isn’t going to win me any medals, but there are two points:

A) It’s the fastest I’ve ridden the course since they changed the start finish point (maybe 5 years ago?)
2) I rode it .6 mph slower than I did 20 years ago.

I’ll take it.

And you can take this, your F.N.F….

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Someone I Don't Know

The Tour is here. As Bob Roll used to say during the old Outdoor Life promos,

"It's the TOUR, Baby!"

When the tour is on, I tend to be distracted. I surf the web too much, watch TV too much, and generally let things go that shouldn't be let go.

Today, while I was supposed to be working, the distraction led me to Velonews, where I saw a link called "Ernie Gagnon - The Bike"

I thought "Ernie Gagnon, that's the local dude who shows up at all the cyclocross races, and weighs like 400 pounds".

Seriously, I'm not exaggerating at all. He's tall, and he's big. He rides a custom Seven with tandem wheels.

The Velonews article is here.

Of course, I followed the link. Turns out the guy was living in a self-imposed exile because he weighed 570 pounds. His doctor gave him the choice of surgery or death. He chose a bike instead.

Talk about thinking outside the box.

It's a good article. Inspiring. Poignant. It embarrassed me.

Not because of Ernie, but because of how I perceived and judged him. I haven't really met him, we passed casually at races. I remember he gave me a head nod. I remember because it isn't common to see a person that size at a bike race. I gave one back because it's the polite thing to do. What I didn't do was have an open mind. What I didn't do was consider the demons he was up against, and how he's taken them head on, and beating them. I didn't consider the emotional risk he was taking, essentially in surrounding himself with a bunch of skinny arrogant little bastards, like me. The irony here is that he was a target for bullies growing up because of his size, as was I (albeit the other end of the spectrum). Cycling helped me build self-confidence, due in no small part to the strength of the community. Cycling respected me for my efforts, my willingness to learn, and my contributions. Cycling didn’t dismiss me because I didn’t win races. Cycling rewarded me for becoming part of cycling. Now, cycling is doing the same for Ernie.

I'm proud that I'm a member of a community that accepts him, supports him, and gives him the most precious thing a person can have - friends that look beyond these carcasses we're all wrapped in. I'm embarrassed that I was so wrapped up in my own selfish little world, deluded that my problems are/were so grandiose, that I wasn't ready or willing to consider the bravery and strength of character Ernie is exemplifying. I'm embarrassed that I didn't remember those lessons I learned over 25 years ago.

I don't know what goals in particular Ernie has, but I hope he's willing to keep setting them higher as he meets them. I hope, instead of simply beating down the demons, he completely vanquishes them.

Ride well, Ernie.