Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Our Purpose, Mission and Sponsorship?

Right guys we need to start thinking about what cause(s) we are going to do this for and then we can start to put the wheels in motion for sponsorship deals and jersey designs!!! Fire in your thoughts and suggest we put it to the vote once everyone has had chance to voice their views.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Aiming High

At the Stratford Cycling Club Dinner I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to bend Mr Magnus Backstedt's ear, and possessing of sufficient sense to listen to what he had to say.

Firstly it is comforting to note that even those who have won Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France stages have days when they really don't care for their bike. Secondly it is possible when listening to people who have "done stuff" to realise where your own issues lie.

My trip to the Pyrenees in 2008 to do the Etape du Tour is well documented in my blog. Equally well documented are my thoughts on anticlimax and an ultimate disappointment with the event. Last night, while listening to Magnus talk about targets and success, I came to the realisation that there was actually nothing wrong with the Etape du Tour 2008. The problem lies with me.

All the way to that ride, I was writing down my paranoia of hitching a ride on the broom wagon because I wasn't good enough to finish when, in retrospect, I knew that I could dig in and find enough to get to the top of Hautacam. I realise now that avoiding failure and achieving success are not the same thing.

On the day of the Etape itself I arrived in St Marie de Campan, 102km into the stage, well ahead of the Broom Wagon, and calculated in my head that I could no longer achieve a silver medal standard. I recall rationalising what happened next as "formulating a plan". I made a decision to take it easy over the Tourmalet and up the Hautacam and use as much of the remaining 6+ hours as I needed to avoid the wagon. 5 and a bit hours later, in an elapsed time of 8:56:30 I crossed the line to the biggest anticlimax of my life. I felt no achievement, I felt no elation. I felt precisely nothing.

What actually happened in St Marie de Campan was that I gave up trying. So what, if my calculation that I couldn't get a silver standard was right? So what, if I had put in all that effort and came out of it with the same certificate at the end of the event that I have now? At least then, at the end of the ride, I would have known that I'd given it my best shot, that what I'd achieved was the limit of my (then) abilities. What I allowed myself to achieve was nothing. All I did was survive.

To hear someone recount a Tour Stage win at the end of a day which started with the Team Manager having to talk them out of quitting, makes me realise that none of us ever really know what is in there. Until we look for it.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, I've already documented my wish to achieve said silver standard next year, and that stands. However, I will not be freewheeling over the line five seconds before the silver cutoff time to the adulation of the masses. No, I shall be crossing that line in a flurry of limbs, squeezing every last ounce of effort from my protesting muscles to achieve the best result that I can. As long as I collapse from the bike 12 inches after my transponder has crossed the line, I will be satisfied. Not necessarily happy, but satisfied.

Whether I am happy or not will still depend upon whether I hit my goal. Whether my goal is right or not will depend on me. Who is to say whether the Medaille D'Argent is within my capabilities, utterly beyond me, at the very edge of my ability, or the bare minimum that I should allow myself to achieve? That would be me, then.

Time will tell but this time I will not settle for the avoidance of failure. The most damaging lies are the ones we tell ourselves, and that is failure enough.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

One In, All In

Having eagerly awaited the opening of Etape entries at 11 a.m. on 17th November, the TdM Etappers found themselves in the Mother Of All Electronic Queues.

All told, the weight of potential entrants delayed the posting of transactions by up to 3 hours. Nonetheless, when the dust settled, all 10 of us had places in the first tranche of 3,000 entrants (a.k.a. the cheap seats) and are now committed to training for one monster day out on the bike.

Game On Boys!