Sunday, June 10, 2007

To The Pain!

I posted a quote a couple days ago about courage and fear, but haven't followed up yet. Honest, I will someday. And it'll be great. But not today.

Instead, I would like to discuss pain. There's an annual 120-mile bicycle ride in Colorado called the Triple Bypass -- called that because the successful cyclist must climb then descend three mountain passes -- Juniper Pass (11,140'), Loveland Pass (11,930'), and Vail Pass (10,560'). Total elevation gain is 10,310 feet, which doesn't make it the most difficult or steep ride in the world. However, those numbers are still quite daunting, and since the passes are at Rocky Mountain altitude, the lack of oxygen -- or hypoxia -- becomes a huge factor.

Now doing a 120-mile bike ride is no small feat. It takes many tiring months of serious training to even have a chance of completing such a distance. It takes a year or more of serious training to have a realistic expectation of completing it within seven or eight hours (including breaks). To add three long, steep, relentless climbs up mountain passes over 10,000' altitude is what makes the Triple Bypass an exceptionally difficult and epic ride.

Training involves pain. If you don't train hard enough to feel your body screaming at you to ease up and reconsider, you're not going to get significantly stronger and faster. Howard's best girl, BalticTiger, is still only dabbling in the pain of bicycle training. She's getting better every month, but in smaller increments. She's very ready for Ride The Rockies, which begins in one week, because the demands of that ride are fully within her capabilities and comfort level. But the Triple Bypass, taking place on July 14th this year, is a whole 'nother beast. She won't be doing that one -- only Howard... along with another 3,499 crazy and obsessed cyclists.

Here's a great quote about pain and bicycling, thanks to Deadhead:
"To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain....at cycling's core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn't matter if you're sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks."
--Scott Martin
When Howard rides his bike, he cannot NOT push himself hard -- hard to the point of panting and lactic acid cramps and sweating like a fat piano mover.

He lives the quote from The Princess Bride: "To the pain!"

Physical therapists and trainers ask us to feel the burn? Feel the pain... and do it anyway!

It's not pretty, but it IS necessary. Change is always painful, whether for the better or worse. (Choose better.)

7 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Howard, sometimes I think you're nuts. Other times, a genius. This time it's that latter.

"Lemme esplain... no, there is too much. Lemme summup..."

I loved this post. As a matter of fact, someday you and I will sit down and discuss the role of pain in our training.

We must be long lost separated blood brothers over time and space.

"To the pain!"

J

10:13 PM, June 10, 2007  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

"Lemme esplain... no, there is too much. Lemme summup..."

That's exactly how Howard feels some times when he's blogging. Too many words are necessary and Howard's got things to do. Let's just wrap up and get back on the bikes, okay?

Okay.

11:12 PM, June 10, 2007  
Blogger SueJ said...

Snork. You guys and your pain. I'm grateful that I don't need it. I'm not afraid of it - but I don't go out and look for it. I *can* not push myself to the max ... I *can* continue to listen to the body and work with it and yes, pant and yes, push... but hurt for the sake of hurting because "it is necessary?"
What a silly concept.
(and for some of us, statis is acutely painful!! Change is exhilarating. )
No pain -- lots of gain.
When I push to the pain point, I am very likely to injure myself. Then I would not ride. RIDING is necessary. Pain is not!
Howard, you may be a genius... but you ain't always right :-)

1:38 PM, June 12, 2007  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Who's talking about hurting for the sake of hurting? Check your premises, suej. And when we're talking pain, we don't mean the "jeez, where's the morphine drip?" kind of pain. We're just talking the kind of lactic acid burn that signals to the brain that muscles could use an upgrade. If you've seen an increase in your cycling abilities, you've suffered along with the rest of us, and you know it. Don't be so disingenuous and such a damned hippie (not that there's anything wrong with that).

10:58 AM, June 13, 2007  
Blogger SueJ said...

Snork :)
What would make me think you were glorifying pain? YOur choice of quotes: ". If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks.""
Nope. It comes down to valuing pushing a *little* and laughing and letting the HOward's ride off and hurl in the bushes. Change is much more fun than pain :=)

7:45 AM, June 14, 2007  
Blogger SueJ said...

oh, and *your* commetn:
If you don't train hard enough to feel your body screaming at you to ease up and reconsider, you're not going to get significantly stronger and faster.

As Pete Seeger said: garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage.... (okay, he didn't write that one... can't remember who did...)

I don't breathe any harder riding the bike or hurt any more than.... oh, other breathing-hard activities that don't involve pain, like laughing...

7:55 AM, June 14, 2007  
Blogger SueJ said...

Hmmm.... a certain somebody I ride with sometimes has been known to quote a competitive friend of his who was asked "How long does it take to get fast?" and she answered "how fast you go depends on how much you're willing to hurt," or words directly to that effect.
I have been compelled to suggest to said party that, well, I still don't think it applies to cycling unless you need to *win,* not just go fast, but that perhaps the "go for the pain" approach should be accepted when it comes to matters of the heart. We'll see.

3:56 PM, July 30, 2007  

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