Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What part of that is the downhill ?

Hauling it up the hill...
I really enjoy riding bikes. One of my favorite things is to ride downhill. The best downhill is one that was proceeded by the climb to the top. That feeling of earning the downhill makes the speed so much more exhilarating.
My friend Hank, who persuaded me to do Ergomania earlier this year, has taken his rowing “game” on the water. He has forgone the road cycling season and has been rowing. We only get glimpses of Hank on the bike, and on a recent Sunday morning he related his rowing experiences.

It seems he has been rowing to the point of total exhaustion. He practically needs help out of the boat (I am sure there is a cool term for the boat, I just don’t know it). He showed me his blistered hands and told me how sore he is afterwards. When I asked if all that work was paying off, he conceded that his hard work was not translating into success and that he had only poor results to show for his significant efforts.

Zach suffering in his most recent Cyclocross race !
When one of my teammates asked why Hank wasn’t riding with the team, I shared the circumstances of Hank’s absence and my friend wisely asked, “What part of that is the downhill?”


This morning as I was making my way upstairs after a brutal secession of intervals on the rollers in my pain cave, I took solace in the fact that this pain would make my upcoming endeavors not only less painful, but more enjoyable, and hopefully, more successful. The whole principle of sacrifice is giving up a lesser something, for something better. You do the hard stuff now, for a payoff down the road.

Payoff !!
There are exceptions. Sometimes you get so used to doing the hard stuff; you forget what the “downhill” was supposed to be. The reward for riding up that big hill is getting to zip down the other side. The payoff for working hard is getting to play. After you sow, you get to reap. The reward for scrimping and saving is getting something cool.

One of the worst things you can do in your training is to never go really easy or to never go really hard, but always go “kinda” hard. This can feel like an endless false flat (which is bike-speak for slight uphill). You need the balance of hard days and easy days. Just like I think we need to work/save/sweat so we can later enjoy. I know of people who have gotten so used to the hard stuff, they have forgotten how to enjoy the rewards of their own efforts. If you have been saving marbles for so long you don’t know where to put any more, it is time to play marbles.

If you find yourself trudging along and you can’t remember what the downhill is, I challenge you to find one.

1 comment:

bikelovejones said...

My sacrifice this winter has been time in the gym. I don't yet know how it will translate to the bike -- I still commute daily and haul cargo twice a week -- but I can already feel myself getting stronger. Crazy stuff.

The photo of a smiling Evo (in his shiny new WHITE togs!) looks like good evidence to me. Keep at it and regale us all with tales of your success on the road!