Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Recuperation Ride

I'm not sure you can make out this shot of Cadel Evens "relaxing" on yesterday's tour rest day. I thought it was cute. Today was my rest day. I slept great and woke up slowly. Watched today's stage of the Tour (no change.) Then I went for an easy ride. My legs felt good after stretching them for a few miles. Good decision not to skip the day altogether. I worked very hard not to go too fast or hard. Kept it in an easy gear and just went around the loop once. As I started on the second time around I felt myself losing energy and when I dropped my energy bar trying to open it on the bike I figured that was an omen. Enough. Rode home for lunch famished.

Just some food for thought. The lines below are taken from the blog The Climb by David Mackay. The speak for themselves and, to some extent, from me.

"I admit I was taken aback by the intensity of the reaction from people who thought that I was somehow either not worthy of taking this on, or was in some way disparaging the sport by trying to use the √Čtape to get even a hint of an answer to the fundamental question of ‘How hard is one day of the Tour de France?’ I won’t say that I’m qualified to explain what that intensity is about. There is obviously a whole subculture of cyclists, and I’m guessing in particular of racers, that appears to be unwelcoming of newcomers, or, at least, of newcomers who do not approach the sport in a way they considered to be right and proper.

As Stuart Stevens, a fellow Play contributor, and Etape rider, who has posted several interesting and thoughtful comments here on the blog wrote,

One of the extraordinary by-products of this blog has been exposing how many US cyclists seem to view riding as an elite cult to be pursued by the chosen. I’m not one of those “France is better” guys, but in places like France, Italy and Spain, you see tons of older, not-great riders dressed in team kits out enjoying themselves. Some have fancy bikes, some don’t. But the young racers passing them don’t seem to resent them or assume they are crashing the club.

In the US, you’d never expect young runners to express a like disdain for the many older, not so great runners who fill marathons across the country. Why is it that there is some segment of the US cycling culture that seems to think this sport is about anything more than, well, riding a bike, something we learn to do at an early age and, with luck, continue to enjoy?

As I said, I don’t have an answer to why those people were so disturbed by my attempt to learn enough about cycling and get in decent enough shape to make it through the Etape. And I don’t have any deep, meaningful explanation of why I, or any of the other 7,500 starters, volunteered to endure this day. But I can explain that, for me at least, it was very simply a way to see what I could do if I really applied myself to a sport in a way that I never had before. I’ve always been a sports fan, and I’ve always been reasonably athletic, but, for one reason or another, I never played a sport seriously. So my goal here was simply to see what I could do if I dedicated myself to an endeavor that I came across only recently. Another way of saying it was that I simply wanted to stop being purely a spectator and participate."

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