Stage 2. Mt. Hood. Perseverance. Or lack thereof.

I needed a pick me up after today’s stage so I did a quick google search and found some motivation:

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

~ Tom Hopkins

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

~ Calvin Coolidge

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

~ Winston Churchill

The life of a cyclist is full of ups and downs.  Lots of climbing followed by lots of descending.  Lots of suffering followed by lots of resting.  Lots of failure followed by lots of success…wait.  I meant “followed by very little success”.  Let’s face it, there are 100 people in a race vying for one spot.  99% of the contenders are going home unhappy.

But the tiny little bits of success we do see, those fractions of mere glimmers of hope, are the only thing keeping me going–keeping all of us going.  I think you need one good day of riding, one good result or training day every month or two throughout the season to keep your motivation high enough to continue.  For me, I had a couple good days of training last week.  That did it.  I haven’t had a good result all year yet, but those intervals are enough.  If I hadn’t had those, I’d be in serious question if this is what I want to do with my life right now.  But because I had those, I am not asking those questions.  I know I’m progressing.  Slowly but surely.  Every once in a while I surprise myself with an out of character good showing of form.  Though, more often than not, racing has forced me to deal with depression, regret, disappointment, and HUGE let downs.  Basically we’re all a bunch of depressed, semi-anorexic dudes with buff legs who are way too self-conceited for the good of humanity.  Dealing with failure is probably one of the most important things to take away from this sport.  Obviously at some point everyone has to say when enough is enough and either make it their full time hobby (as opposed to full-time life obsession) or just move on entirely.  But knowing when to keep going when it seems like quitting is the only option, and push through the dark moments–that’s what’s really important.  At some point the pace lets up and before you know it you’re off the front.

I had a terrible race today.  Absolutely ridiculously bad.  I finished in a groupeto containing 76th to 95th place, over 10 minutes down. I actually made today much worse than it should have been by getting down on myself mid-way up a long climb, and giving up.  I was riding at the front going into the first ascent of the 7-mile climb about 30 miles into the 85-mile race and blew up half way through.  In fact, I didn’t completely blow up, even.  I sort of realized all of a sudden that I was hurting a lot and wouldn’t be able to maintain my spot in the peloton for the rest of the voyage up the long climb.  It happened suddenly.  One minute I was fine the next I was done.  I thought I should be doing better than I was, and when I saw that I wasn’t one of the top 20 strong guys that day like I thought I should have been, I just gave up and had myself a good old fashioned pitty party.  I should have kept digging hard and would have had a much better race if I had (almost everything came back together on the descent that time) but I had already given up, deciding that if I wasn’t strong enough to do anything today I might as well just give up now and feel bad for myself.  I spent the rest of the race in a groupetto wondering what else I’d do in life if I were to quit the sport right now.  Nothing came to mind, which I think is the answer I was looking for and I decided I should continue racing.  I imagine most people’s physical cracking point is way above where their mental cracking point is.  I usually feel like I can deal with pain pretty damn well.  And I usually feel like I can deal with adversity and suffering and a challenges pretty well too.  Today I could deal with nothing.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know why my legs won’t do what I feel they’re capable of either.  My legs and mind were not where they should have been today, but there’s always tomorrow.

My form has been extremely up and down lately.  Kind of like this song:

I can only wait and continue trying to find out when they’ll feel good again.

I know a lot of cyclist in the same boat as me right now, so for everyone out there, realize we all feel like shit some times (a lot of the time) and that we don’t do this because it’s easy and fun.  Fuck that shit.  What’s the point of doing something easy?  This lifestyle is only worthwhile because it’s extremely ment Continue reading “Stage 2. Mt. Hood. Perseverance. Or lack thereof.”

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic 2011 Prologue

Click on the two tiny pictures to zoom in.

This was last year, 2010.


Here’s tonight’s result.  My main goal is to be consistent.  A Job well done with a fine pair of 56th places.

Not to complain or anything, but I’d like to grumble angrily about some things here for a minute. First off, the race organizers spelled my name with a Y, as in Yennett. This meant that I started 3rd from last, since the prologue start order was based on first names going A-Z alphabetically. It was very windy this evening. Everyone got pounded with wind, but it DID pick up considerably as it got later, as well as some light rain. This didn’t stop Scott Tietzel or Zack Garland from getting in the top 10 (two guys with first names close to the end of the alphabet).

I guess I have no excuse for my 56th place today, other than lack of power. Despite trying to trick myself into thinking it was super windy when I went, the truth of the matter is that I had NO GOD DAMN POWER!!!

I’d like to brag again about my intervals I did the other day to make myself feel good.  To refresh your memory, I did 8×4 minutes with 4 minutes rest in between each interval.  I averaged 441 watts for the combined 8, holding back until the very last one, where I pumped out 484 watts.  Today’s prologue was 6.5 to 7 minutes long, which is roughly in the same power zone as 4 minutes, being a v02 effort.  The difference between 6.5 minutes of power and 4 isn’t that great, so I figured on a good day, starting out fresh, I could do 500 watts for 6.5 minutes on a steep hill.  Of course the prologue was not on a steep hill.  So I thought around 450-460 watts would be possible for the course on hand, which was rolling and mainly false flat downhill with a couple short climbs at the beginning and end.  450 wouldn’t be bad at all.

Plus, as an added bonus to my swelling ego, I figured all the time I’ve spent riding the TT bike last week would have transformed me into a TIME TRIAL MONSTER!  I mean, I rode that bike every day for a week!  Come on, what more am I expected to do to prepare for being a TIME TRIAL MONSTER!?

With huge watts on my mind and super efficient time trialing abilities in my back pocket, I headed out the door with a new pep in my step and decided to set my goals high today.  I thought a top 10 was a given.  A top five probable.  A podium likely.  A top 1 for sure (at least).  I began pondering how much I’d win by.  Five seconds?  No, probably more like 13.  “Yeah, 13 seconds is most likely what it will be,” I thought to myself as I stroked my non existent beard ever so confidently.

I warmed up this morning with 30 minutes on the TT bike on the trainer out in the sun.  It was nice.  I felt good.  I had felt really good the day before too.  I was going to CRUSH this thang.

I warmed up in the parking lot on the trainer many, many hours later at 6pm.  I was feeling good.  I was going to crush this thang!

It started getting really windy and rainy and cold.  Not to worry, I was gonna crush this damn thang!

I started.  I easily smashed my gears up the first climb at 700 watts.  The hill ended and I went downhill for a few seconds, then up again briefly.  Pretty soon I was only 15 seconds behind my 30 second man (within the first mile).  I was crushing this thang at last!  Then I started to not crush it.  As the road went downhill, so did my powertap’s readout.  It told me I was riding like a tiny little pillbug, at 350 watts.  I struggled through the low grade descent, not wanting to look down at the powertap.  I was really not crushing it at all anymore.  I hadn’t really blown up though, I just couldn’t put out the watts I needed to be doing.  I passed my 30 second guy finally as the road went up again in the last 2 minutes of the race.  I sat up a bit, then got out of my aero bars once and for all.  My power rose back up to the mid 400’s, then the 500’s, then I was too cross-eyed to look down at it any more.  I crushed it a tiny bit, but not nearly enough to make up for the three minutes of slow riding I had just done.  I crossed the finish line in a thorough amount of pain at 6:58, blowing up half way up the final climb.  Slow.  Super slow.  Average power: 416.  Weak.  Super weak.  I don’t know what happened.  I was super pissed of course.

I guess I still need more practice on the TT bike.  I was 50-60  watts too low today.  I can’t seem to put out anything above 400 when I’m in the aero position.  I need to find more time trials where being aero is of no importance…like in a vacuum.  If I could only find a decent stage race in space…

I’ve come to the conclusion that one week of time trial practice is not enough.

One thing’s for certain: I’ll be on that TT bike every possible day I can from here on out.  It might not happen overnight, but mark my words, one day I WILL be a time trial monster.