A Get-Em-Before-They’re Gone Note from Fatty: Registration for the Third Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere has been selling pretty darn briskly. So darn briskly, in fact, that by the time the Twin Six guys went to bed, there were just a few dozen slots left. Rather than leave registration open overnight and wind up overselling the event, they suspended registration for the evening. But it’s open again, right now. Men, register here. Women, register here.
There are fewer than 40 slots available at this point, and I’m certain they will sell out within an hour or two. So if you’re going to register, do it now.
Update: The 100 Miles of Nowhere is SOLD OUT. Thanks to the 500 people who signed up!
The Grand Illusion
I don’t mean to boast (yes I do), but I’ve made it through the winter without gaining much weight at all. Maybe five or seven pounds. Maybe nine or ten at the most.
Okay, I’ve gained eleven pounds during Winter. But compared to my usual annual weight gain / loss pattern, that’s practically like losing fifteen pounds. Practically.
And so it was with no small amount of pride a few days ago that I, at the beginning of the South Suncrest climb, marked another rider so far ahead of me that I couldn’t even tell what color his (or her) clothes were. A veritable dot of a cyclist, on the mountain equivalent of the horizon. And then — this is the part in which I have pride quantified as “no small amount” — I caught, briefly chatted with, and then dropped him (for it was indeed a him).
“Clearly,” I thought to myself, “I am a force to be reckoned with.”
And I continued my ride, feeling strong. Feeling fit. Feeling like I am — as I have recently mentioned — a force to be reckoned with. My legs turning smooth circles, my arms applying exactly the correct amount of counterbalance to my downstroke, so that I ride a smooth, clean line.
I was powerful, efficient. A cyclist in the prime of my life.
Then, once home, I swung my right leg over the saddle (I always dismount on the left, though I’ve never considered why) clicked out of my left pedal, and was on the ground once more.
And then I limped through my front door and up the stairs to my bedroom. Needing the rail, because I can barely walk.
I stripped and turned on the shower, then attempted my “while the water heats up” ritual: doing sets of pullups. For today’s ritual, my sets were remarkably consistent: 0, none, and zero. This is because I have — once again — recently injured my shoulder, and it hurts too much to haul my weight up to the chinup bar.
As I sat in the shower, I contemplated the ride and the events that followed. Which was when I had the following great epiphany:
Cycling is popular with middle-aged people because it gives you the illusion of being in great shape, even though your body is completely falling apart.
What the Illusion Feels Like
Cycling, by being no-impact on road and only moderate-impact on cross-country trails, gives you the sensation that you are whole and healthy. And why not? You’re climbing up mountains and flying down them, all under your own power.
And the bonus is, if you’ve been doing it for a few years, your legs magically transform and you can — in spite of being middle-aged — show those young’uns a thing or two.
And if you keep it up, you continue to improve, getting stronger and faster while everyone you know complains about getting slower and older.
It’s like the Fountain of Youth
The problem — which I just recently banged my head against — is that cycling makes you fit within a tiny little narrow set of parameters.
Specifically, cycling has made me very fit to turn my legs in small, smooth circles, under heavy load, almost indefinitely. And it’s made my arms — forearms, especially — very fit at counterpulling against the downstroke of my pedals, again, almost indefinitely.
This kind of fitness translates, once I’m off the bike, to…um…nothing. As I mentioned before, walking hurts right now. Running is out of the question (which should make for an interesting Ironman in a month and change).
And while my arms look toned — having done near-infinite low-effort reps — I am not the guy you want to help move your piano.
And I’m far from the only example of this kind of pseudo-fitness. Take Kenny, for example. He looks strong, and on the bike he is nigh indestructible.
Off the bike, however, he walks gingerly, and if you punch him in the arm, it will break.
And the thing is, this illusion perpetuates itself. Off the bike, I’m human. OK, fine: subhuman.
On the bike, I’m strong like bull.
So, given an opportunity, where do you think I’m going to be?