Sorry for the gap between posts. It’s week six of a thirteen week semester so things are starting to hot up around here.
But here we go. And there will be no beating around the bush today. Straight into the key issue of today’s post.
Australia produces, per capita, the greatest volume of top level cyclists in the world. This past weekend saw the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, or to use its official title – the Olympics-for-countries-who-still-have-the-Queen-on-their-money. At said mini-Olympics there were 18 cycling events. 18 events yields 54 medals and we took 20 of them, including 11 Gold.
Now you may be thinking “I’ve never heard of the Commonwealth Games”. To which I would respond… nothing. The inward focus of the education system in the United States is legendary and any sporting event that the USA isn’t invited to probably doesn’t exist. But I’m here to help, so for those of you who still don’t understand what the Commonwealth Games are all about, I’ll delve a little further back. Maybe Athens 2004. There were also 18 cycling events there. And 54 possible medals. With the entire world in attendance Australia came away with 10 medals including 6 gold.
There’s a little bit of a disparity there between the results and the size of the country. Australia has a population of around 20 million. The planet has a population of around 6.4 billion (who can argue with the accuracy of statistics coming from the CIA). So how is it that a country representing one third of one percent of the worlds population take away eighteen percent of the cycling medals and fully one third of the Gold?
And today another person received their (re)indoctrination as a cyclist. I have always been a truck chaser. It’s the cheapest form of interval and speed training around. Loiter at the intersection of an industrial estate and sit behind anything that is struggling to accelerate under its heavy load. It’s not great for off the line acceleration training unless you give them a head start, but once they wind up the going is very strenuous.
Today I wasn’t even looking for a truck. I’m in the middle of a rebuilding phase with my riding and my short term goal is to just ride my bike everyday for in excess of an hour with no particular technique or style. Just reform the habit of riding. Also, I had tried to chase a truck several times through January and February and it just ended in embarrassment. But today the truck just came to me.
I was approaching a round-about when I heard behind me the expelling of air that is synonymous with a truck downshifting. I squeezed over to the side of the road because it sounded like this 15 tonne monster was going to push past me before or through the intersection. Now, I’m big. And many people think I’m a bit stupid. But I’m not that big or stupid. So I braked and then pedalled through the intersection behind the truck.
It was an old tilt tray tow truck with a car body on the back and it belched and lumbered and slowly accelerated away. Very slowly. Most of the next 2 kilometres (1.2mi) was a false flat – downhill. So I pounced. And I followed him tucked nicely up near the mudflap about 2 feet back from the end of the tray and sitting with my left shoulder out in the wind watching the road ahead. The driver was watching me in the mirror and looking quite stern but all he could do was abuse the gearbox and hope he could eventually find enough speed to dispense with me. Then I got a bit of respite when we went through another corner that slowed him down again.
For a total of 3.1km (1.9mi) I shadowed him. He rolled through the corners at about 25kph (15.5mph) and I got a maximum on my computer of 72.3kph (44.9mph). All up, it was a victory for me. I stayed with him until I was due to turn off for home. I was sitting comfortably at around 158 on the heart rate monitor which is just below my lactate threshold of around 162. But in case you missed it; I chose when I stopped pacing behind the truck. I didn’t get burned off. That is a benchmark event.
I’m starting to think I may start calling myself a bike rider again.
Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom
– General George Patton.