Monday, May 21, 2007

use it or lose it, or never have it?

"saving it"
i've heard that phrase a lot lately, in a number of contexts,
and almost universally my response is the same:
the speaker is reluctant to use it,
fearing there might not be enough of it to go around,
and won't have any when he or she "actually needs it."
curiously, those who do not exhibit this paralyzing phobia
but rather use it on a regular basis tend to have more of it,
and more often than not are able to rely upon it when needed.
recently i've heard this phrase and rationalization used
as it relates to bike racing,
or NOT racing.
the speaker is "saving it" for some bigger race,
trusting that whatever that magical essence is
will be better invested and spent
by avoiding a competition the day before "the big one"
and somehow he or she will have super human strength when needed.
. . . . .
for the most part, cycling doesn't work like that, thank god.
this weekend, in fact, the past week,
has seen a good example of this right here in capitol city.
i'm referring specifically to a teammate of mine, scott fairbairn.
40+, cat three, strong as a horse.
last weekend, we had no races, and dave lippold and i conspired
to spend a couple days in the sun and on the roads around des moines.
saturday's ride was a westward trek,
wherein we joined the northern alliance on the road,
and headed out through granger and on towards redfield.
tailwinds carried us out, and we were treated with long,
sweeping vistas and lush, greening river crossings.
on the way back in, headwinds and heat.
throw in several miles of soft gravel for good measure.
it turned out to be over a hundred miles for the day for me.
scott tallied 120.
he was unable to ride with us the next day, but rode nevertheless.
a typical week ensued,
but with the addition of a thursday night marathon,
which i was forced to miss. but as i understand it,
scott spent the better part of 5 or 6 hours handing it to the 1s and 2s.
then in saturday's big creek road race, scott rode the 1/2/3 race.
hot, windy, fast.
he finished 9th; i dropped out after 6 laps.
to paraphrase him, to those folks who think 1/2s races are cake,
you're nuts.
. . . . .
okay, "saving it?"
today's race was the gilbert road race,
a basically flat, wide open, windswept 9-mile rectangle,
with a couple little climbs on the north and south ends.
scott rolled off the front on the first lap,
and stayed away alone for a lap and a half,
allowing his teammates, jim, jason, and me, to sit in,
while eventually the other teams reeled him in.
he and rubixcube were relentless pushing the pace
up each of the hills each lap, and with just over a lap to go,
up the hill on the north side, scott punched it again.
shawn loomis, who'd won saturday's master's race at big creek,
joined him, rooby and i shut it down, and that was it.
scott beat him at the finish.
i'm willing to bet that scott will tell you that
racing and fitness "capital" is best spent while fresh.
it has a short shelf life, yet the more of it you spend,
the more of it you make.
moral of the story?
get off your asses and race.
you, and your teammates, will be glad you did.
. . . . .
Q: how do i become a better racer?
A: race better.
Q: how do i race better?
A: race more.


scott said...

I'll have to admit that I used to be a "saver". It's that damn Friel book, and his talk of 'peaking' that gets in all our minds. It's like an infection on the brain.

And I still have occasional doubts that my tired old body can take the constant punishment of racing. But it's just too darn fun not too!

I'm going to USE it four times this weekend.

the mostly reverend said...

you can train your body to work hard. but it takes hard work.
AND active recovery, mondays and fridays.
hell, ask lippold! even DAVE has realized that. he's cutting back to under, or around, 300 miles this week!