Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I fumble with my rear wheel and try like hell to get the rear nuts to loosen so I can flip my hub around into the right gear combo. A couple of profane words slip through my teeth in hopes that my cursing will get it to magically work. It creaks in protest and when it remains stuck, I threaten to throw my training wheels in the garbage. They are meant to turn in circles, not be adjusted as much as I've asked of them. It's a love hate relationship, that's for certain. And someone overheard me in my moment of furry and offered to take them off my hands for me.

But the root of my frustration? I'm tired. I've been asking a lot of my body lately and pushing it to new extremes. And today is no exception. On tap for this evenings workout - a thirty lap warm up with regular increased intensity, two jumps (accelerations) in the warm up gear and then four "balls to the wall" 500m efforts in a large gear. One from a stand still and three using the banking to get my speed up and hold it.

To those unfamiliar with track racing, which to be honest, is pretty much everybody, only four efforts for a 500m distance sounds doable. And in the grand scheme of things - it really isn't that far. But the trick, and this is wear practice pays off, is to will your body, equipment, and mind into one singular focus - going fast as humanly possible. Where every ounce of energy, every muscle in your body, every cell in your brain is focused on rotating your pedals forward.

The wind up for the flying efforts (which just means you can use the banking to get going) is supposed to be hard. It's as nearly as hard as the effort itself. You glide along the rail at the top of the track and when entering into corner three, you start increasing your speed to come up off the banking. Between three and four, you start pushing the pedals to slowly accelerate, upping your speed as you use the easy speed on the banking between corner four and one. You then hit the gas to accelerate up corner one, the legs start screaming but you have to keep on the throttle before corner two as your whole body contracts and then out of the saddle as you exit corner two down the banking into the sprinters lane by corner three, like a rocket at 100%.

If you did the wind up correctly - the out of the saddle portion can only last a short while before your body forces you to sit back down. In a flash you're coming out of corner four, driving your knees up as you swiftly travel the long straight away, into the wind, wanting to stop, wanting so badly to quit, but driving it anyway. You feel your momentum slowing, but you keep willing your body to push on. Tunnel vision ensues, things start to narrow and a black tunnel tunes out external noise. As you push the final few meters to the line, you feel like you're detached to your body, floating above and cheering for it to come across the line. Immediately afterward the rush of being in the moment comes crashing back in and you gasp for air, ready to pass out from the sheer exertion of what just happened. The next lap is coming back down from the pain oasis you just visited, coming back into consciousness. The endorphins don't even do it for you any more. The pain has taken over. And as you roll out a few more laps before collapsing on the infield in attempt to recover and do it all again - you think how good it feels to be alive. How fortunate you are able to make your body push so hard and let it respond. How ultimately fulfilling it is to be in the here and now and doing what you love.

It's actually hard to relay this kind of thing to other people. I realize how single minded and focused this sport has made me - partly because if you don't you'll never know if you really gave it everything you had - and partly because I really enjoy what I do. I've sacrificed a lot - living a certain lifestyle that compliments my focus, surrounding myself by an army of people who support me, sought out the best experts, opinions and continue a disciplined approach toward my goal.

I am devoted to this sport as some people are religious. My pursuit is one of high performance and doing everything within my power to get there. It can be overwhelming at times, exhausting at others, exhilarating, giddy, and come to think of it, I've experienced every single range of emotions. It makes me feel alive and I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

1 comment:

Brian Peterson said...

Great post! I think you captured a lot of the essence of being a bike racer.