A Note from Fatty: I will not be posting tomorrow, because I am having some surgery done. Left index finger and right elbow. Wheeeee!
A More Awesome Note from Fatty: This Wednesday (December 12) at 12:00noon ET / 9:00AM PT I’ll be doing a live interview with a couple of extremely awesome people. Specifically, first I’ll be talking with F.K. Day, President of World Bicycle Relief:
We’ll be talking about how World Bicycle Relief works, why it is where it is, and what’s next. F.K. is one of the smartest, most genuine people I have ever met, and he’ll be happy to take your questions.
Next, we’ll talking with Rebecca Rusch, also known as The Queen of Pain. Rebecca is the four-time champ of The Leadville 100, an advocate for women’s cycling, an ambassador for World Bicycle Relief, a three-time 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike World Championships winner, and otherwise has an astonishing race resume.
I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m anything but a superfan when we talk, especially since we’ll also be talking about the latest and greatest Grand Slam for Zambia grand prize, which Rebecca will be donating.
So, to recap: Wednesday at 12:00noon ET / 9:00AM PT. Be here. (or at Spreecast)
talking with FK and Rebecca on Wednesday
One Last Awesome Note from Fatty Before I Begin Today’s Actual Post: It’s no surprise that Grand Slam 2 is loaded with prizes (and there are more to be announced, of course). But just for fun, when we hit the 1000 donations mark today, we went ahead and picked a random number between 1 and 1000 (which is to say, we didn’t take into account how much each donation was for, just that there was a donation) and gave that person a cool ZIPP disc wheel clock, like this one, being held by Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae:
That prize went to Allison H, wife of extremely frequent commenter David H. And since I’m not the one drawing prizes, I don’t have to worry about choosing favorites or anything.
Oh, by the way: that’s not the only time we plan to do random drawings for cool prizes like this. So — whether you donate enough to buy a bike for a child in Zambia ($134) or the amount you’d spend on lunch or a coffee ($5 – $10), you may still win either a grand prize or a bonus prize. So go donate now.
We Don’t Suffer
Once in a while I think about all the rides I’ve done, and try to decide on which ride it was that I suffered the most.
Maybe it was when I raced the Kokopelli Trail solo, unsupported, injured and with a broken rear derailleur. That was some serious suffering.
Or maybe it was the first time I raced the Leadville 100. I didn’t know what I was up against. I didn’t know what I was doing. My knee hurt so bad I still remember the pain today. My nipples bled, for crying out loud (oh yes, quite literally crying out loud). And I was so very, very exhausted.
It’s also possible the time I suffered most was in the Summer of 2011 on a short anonymous training ride, where I turned myself inside out, giving it everything I had and quite possibly a little more — i.e., I gave 100.01%, thus defying mathematics — in my quest to give my all and hopefully get onto the Strava Top 20 for the Alpine Loop climb (American Fork side). My suffering paid off, too: I took the 18th spot, which would maybe mean more to you if you knew the guys in first through seventeenth place.
In each of these cases, though, I hurt. Bad. My legs ached — sometimes acutely, sometimes dully. Sometimes both. My lungs burned. My morale was incinerated in a fiery furnace of hot flaming burnination.
And in short, I suffered.
Except I didn’t.
Because it is my contention that, as cyclists, we do not suffer. At all. No matter how hard you’re riding, or how much you hurt. Or how dramatic the stories are that you (and by “you,” I mean “I”) tell yourself as a way to keep riding even though you are hurting and aren’t having fun anymore and are this close to giving up, getting off, and making the Phone Call of Shame.
Please. Allow me to explain.
One of These Things Is Not Like The Others
Here are some things that you might associate with suffering:
- A compound fracture
- Eating boiled okra
- Being tasered
- Watching season two of Twin Peaks
- Riding a bike really far or really hard
What’s different between the last item and the other items? Simple. You do not take the circumstances of the first three items upon yourself by choice.
My point being that suffering — true suffering – is something that is pressed upon you. Suffering is the act of putting up with something difficult — and probably painful — that you didn’t ask for.
Suffering is not the pain you feel when you are riding your bike.
You want to know what the correct word is for that pain you feel when you’re exerting yourself on your bike?
You do? Are you sure? You might not like it.
You still want to know? OK. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.
See? I told you that you wouldn’t like it. But that’s what it is. That pain you’re experiencing is what you do for recreation. For fun. If you chose it and you can stop it whenever you want, you’ve got to admit: that pain you’re experiencing is your idea of a good time.
Congratulations. You’re officially a masochist.
The News Is Not All Bad
It would be easy to read up to this point and think that I’m trivializing what you (and I) experience on the bike by asserting that we don’t suffer.
But that’s not what I’m doing. At all.
Instead, I’m suggesting that you pivot your thinking a little bit the next time you find yourself having an argument with yourself about which hurts worse: your legs or lungs.
Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m suffering” — which is something you do passively, when a horrible circumstance is forced upon you — say to yourself, “This pain is mine.” Embrace it fully. After all, you created it and you decide how bad it’s going to hurt and how long it’s going to last. Why not own it?
Smile. Sure, clench your teeth or open your mouth as far as it will absolutely go or do whatever it is you do when you’re at your limit, but let your eyes at least still be smiling.
Because you’re not suffering. You’re not taking something someone else has put upon you. You’re hurting because you are willing to hurt to go that fast, or far, or high.
And those two things are worlds apart.
PS: For those of you who are about to suggest that if you’re watching season two of Twin Peaks, you’re bringing it upon yourself, I’d suggest that you’re dead wrong and anybody who actually watches that entire second season did so against their will and has in fact suffered mightily.
PPS: For those of you who watch The Sufferfest videos to train and furthermore claim citizenship of Sufferlandria, I have two things to say:
- You are a special, wonderful kind of sick, and I congratulate you on your commitment to pain.
- You’re still not suffering.