Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 5th Wall

A knight sits atop a majestic white horse. Behind him sits his wife, completely and utterly silent, wearing a large pair of dark sunglasses.

Knight: What a beautiful eve is upon us, my lady! Just look at the oppulence surrounding us, the magnificent beast that stands beneath us, ubiquitous evidence of the slow-moving bureaucracy that fills our coffers so handsomely.....could you imagine any atmosphere more conducive to softening thy loins, on this, the anniversary of our wedding?

Peasant: (yelling obnoxiously) Slag off, knight!

Knight: Excuse me?

Peasant: You heard me, you smug bastard. Slag off! You're acting sucks, you're boring me and your wifey.

Knight: Do you know who I am?

Peasant: Fuck, probably some fuckin' knight, or thane, duke, or some fuckin' classy thing like that.

Knight: Then why would you mock me so? You know I could have your head on a whim.

Peasant: Because you're in a play. 4th wall. You can't touch me.

Knight: If I recall correctly, you plebe, the 4th wall is merely a conceptual term defining the division between audience and stage, and I assure you it has no physical manifestation. (directs horse to rear and kick peasant, who is knocked to the ground) Besides, I never agreed to act in this play in the first place.

Peasant: Ahhhhh, fuckin' hell, Knight, what'd you go and do that for? What kinda actor are you can't handle a bit of heckling?

Knight: Are you drunk?

Peasant: Of course I'm bloody drunk, I'm a peasant at a play, and a shoddy play at that! And if you can violate the concept of the 4th wall, then so can I, watch...

(The peasant grabs the reins of the horse, and the knight struggles to get them back. The horse becomes confused and enraged and the peasant is stomped. Repeatedly. Until he is dead.)

Knight: Crimony! Why must this peasant have tested my will such, on this, the anniversary of our wedding, my lady? This latest happening is not at all conducive to the softening of loins.

Me: Well what the fuck did you do that for?

Knight: Who said that?

Me: I did, over here.

Knight: Well, who are you?

Me: I'm in the audience.

Knight: But the peasant was the only one in the audience.

Me: He was the only one in the audience of the first play. That was the root play of a meta-play. A play within a play.

Knight: What is God's name are you talking about you half-wit?

Me: Well, as we are none creatures living in a vacuum, forever will our conduct be perceived by others, and as such, we are actors in a play.

Knight: Such a metaphor I can abide.

Me: So, these others, they constitute the audience. But, sometimes an actor will "break the 4th wall", leave the stage, and descend into the audience to involve the crowd, in essence making the audience part of the play.

Knight: Ahh, yes, such a wonderful and charitable contribution to the masses, and enhancement of art most grand!

Me: Similarly, sometimes an audience member will heckle, or jeer, or even physically violate the 4th wall.

Knight: Yes, it is a shame, such wretched conduct was the undoing of this insuffrable mess of bones lying just off the stage.

Me: Off your stage. It is still on my stage.

Knight: Stop splitting hairs! Or I might undo you the same way.

Me: I highly doubt that. You will thank your lucky stars that the king finds a way to get you out of this mess. We all know that a good actor should be able to perform his part under even the greatest duress, without breaking character. You allowed yourself to succumb to an outside influence to which you should be impervious. Besides, we are actually separated by a 5th wall. I cannot touch you and you cannot touch me.

Knight: Lucky for you, knave, who would darest challenge the dramatic aptitude of such a noble gentleman.

Me: Lucky for you, too, Knight, because I know people who want to want to hurt you, and probably even kill you. But the 5th wall also shields me from the blood that would be spilled were that fantasy ever realized. And you sir, have real blood on your hands.

Knight: It's not on my hands, knave, it's on my horse's hooves.

Me: Now you're the one splitting hairs, Knight.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Race #2

Isn't it funny how fast a plan can go out the window? For instance, around the end of last season, I assumed I would be racing Elite right now, theoretically hob-nobbing with the cream of the crop and being faster than I've ever been.

Then I moved residences. And before I moved I didn't ride as much as I should have. Which probably stemmed from the lack of motivation caused by stressing myself out trying to accumulate uber-mileage in January.

So I did the smart thing, and re-adjusted my plan.

New plan: set sights way lower.

Cop-out? Perhaps. But I would rather cop-out of a lofty goal whose manifestation in real-life terms would probably mean a whole lot of compromise in my quality of life, than not cop-out of that goal and spend every waking hour dedicated to eking infintecimally small percentages of speed and fitness out of a body that is neither eager nor willing.

This is not to say I do not want to be faster. Well, actually now that I think about it, that is pretty much exactly what I am saying. Instead, I'd rather be a better bike rider and racer, than I would a physical specimen as the result of hundreds of hours of winter training. Because then I would have to dip into my un-necessary winter nap time to find hundreds of hours to mindlessly waste time on the internet.

And THAT would be unacceptable.

Furthermore, those hundreds of winter hours spent training are fleeting. They mean virtually nothing in perpetuity, as the human body is a fickle creature with a serious "what have you done for me lately" kinda mentality. Scan results from a decade ago and see how many people on top are in the same position now. Hell, you can even look at last year's results and see a lot of folks slipping, and a lot of them making big gains.

I do not want to fall into that category. I do not want to enter a sub-prime mortgage with my love of the sport, chasing a big dream on credit but ultimately ending up bankrupt when the reality of the usurious price I have to pay to achieve it kicks in.

This is why the singlespeed category exists.

It is where fast riders, if not the spring training camp types, go to avoid burning out while also hoping to not fade away. I would say it would be sandbagging if not for the high level of competition that the top riders in the category bring to the table. And at Albion Hills, despite a confidence-uninspiring off-season, I was hoping to rise to that reasonably high level.

After carefully studying and dissecting the results from Ocup #1 that I missed with a painful strain in my neck, I decided that I would be happy to finish top 4, and would ride a conservative pace to try to achieve that goal. Then the start gun went off and yet another plan went out the window. Steve Martin and Dave Dermont went off the front, and they were 2 of the 3 I was expecting to have in front of me. So, naturally, I took a look around, and instead of letting them go, I rode as hard as I could to catch a wheel. Then it was the 3 of us with a 20-30m gap on the rest of the field. After another few hundred meters, Steve started pulling away from Dave, who I was riding behind.

As I had already decided that a top-4 finish was a satisfactory result, it made total sense at this point to peel off around Dave, and sprint my ass off to catch Steve's wheel again. I wasn't wearing a heartrate monitor, so it would be impossible to tell whether or not I was actually riding conservatively until I cramped up on the side of the trail before finishing the race. So I used some empirical observations (laboured breathing? check. legs burning? check. haven't led Steve for even a moment and he doesn't seem to be having much trouble? check) to determine that even though I had thrown 66% of my game plan out the window, maybe, just maybe, vying for the win 15 mins into an hour+ race was probably not a good idea. So I let him go. At least there was no sign of third place...

....for about another 5 minutes. Davis Ross had my tail with a couple kms left on the 1st lap, but when I offered him the pass to chase Steve, he declined. We rode a majority of the 2nd lap together until he started to put some more time into me toward the end, but the gap was still manageable. Unfortunately for Davis, the gap quickly shrank and disappeared when he had a pedal unthread itself about 1.5km into the third and final lap. I am never thrilled about gaining a spot that way, but neither was I going to let such an opportunity go to waste, so I put my head down and hammered even harder.

I was hitting some heavy lap-traffic by this point but everybody was really good about letting me by. Some people who knew the deal told me that Steve was "just ahead" or "only 25 seconds", but with only a couple km left I had a feeling that this would be too much to overcome. I was right and in spite of my ludicrous cadence to finish the race off, I heard Chico announcing him as the SS winner about 30 seconds before I crossed the line.

So my plans changed, and I think both of them were for the better. I am not resigned to a full season racing SS but at this point it seems a good fit. It was a good battle with Steve and having this race under my belt it may be even more fierce if I choose to keep racing this category. I am convinced* that it would have been a dog-fight to the line with Davis had he not run into that bad luck. (*he probably would have beat me, I had to convince myself otherwise)

All in all a great, late, start to my O-cup season. I look forward to continuing to put the 'fun' back into FUNdamental racing strategy.


PS thanks again to my saintly parents for the ride and feed in shit weather.