Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jens Voigt Ascends

From The New York Times and Google Maps
The Col d'Aubisque, 1709m. In 1910, Octave Lapize, who was the first rider to reach the peak, shouted at race organizers, "Assassins!" for including mountains so high that he had to walk at points. – from the New York Times

I was going to write about how fantastic it was that on Sunday, with little planning or preparation I did what I call a "Tin Man" or mini triathlon. After talking to Mike I realized it's a real event called the Sprint Triathlon. I had started the morning doing some yard work, moving a few 18 kg bags of stones around and looked at my watch and saw that if I'd wanted to swim, I'd better get a move on. So I packed my swim gear on the bike and thought I should just put on my bike shoes and go for little ride afterwards. I got to the pool and did 40 laps in about 20 minutes. I then left the pool and jumped on my bike and rode 20km. To be honest it was a relatively cool day with good cloud cover and there was so much traffic it was hard to actually get any speed up, so the ride was over at a leisurely 56 minutes. On the way back to the house I thought how good I felt and that I could probably run another 5 km. When I got home, I changed my shoes and was feeling as fresh as a daisy and twice as fragrant. This is great, I thought. I don't even need to stretch. After the first few strides, I almost fell over. My legs had suddenly and without warning turned to noodles. For some reason, I didn't stop and all I could think was that I had started this, so I was going to finish it. My time for 5km? A pretty weak 34 minutes. When I got home I thought I was going to puke. But I didn't, so I changed and went back out to finish the yard work I'd started earlier. I have to be honest. I felt pretty macho. I felt like there was nothing I couldn't spit at and not destroy. Nothing I could say that would be wrong.

Then I read Jens Voigt's account of crashing and finishing stage 16 of the Tour de France with seven stitches in his elbow, acreage of road rash and a few cracked ribs. If you've ever sprained, bruised or cracked your ribs, then you know it hurts like what you imagine Hell hurts like. Particularly, it hurts to breath. So how you ride a gruelling bike race in that condition is unknown to me. I like that he writes this post and still can recommend a book. It's got a great punch line so I won't spoil it but just say you should go and read it now.

This does bring up another troubling question. If these cyclists are so tough, mentally and physically, why do they fight like a bunch of big girl's blouses? I guess when it comes down to it, not many of us fight with the grace or the power of someone like Cassius Clay or Georges Laraque. As for myself, I'm a lover not a fighter.

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