Friday, November 06, 2009

My Three Coaches

I often say that I don't train, I practice, but I've been thinking lately (mostly on long, wet, dark rides in the rain) that I guess I do train in my own way. I mostly don't think of myself as an athlete but when I ride brevets, race from San Francisco to Portland, ride to Minnesota or race the Great Divide, people tell me that these are athletic feats and ask me all kinds of questions about training and diet and coaches.

It seems to me that whatever abilities that I have when it comes to riding a bicycle for long distance have been honed over the years by three coaches. In this long-overdue blog post, I'll introduce you to them.

The coach whose been with me the longest is Coach No-Car. I've been with Coach No-Car since 1987. A lot of folks, when they learn about Coach No-Car think he's some kind of harsh task master, and while he is the coach that gets me out there when My Free Will Just Ain't Willin', he's also the coach who has taught me the most. Coach No-Car taught me how to dress for all conditions, how to ride in the rain and the dark, and generally get around safely in a world filled with big fast-moving, death boxes.

My favorite coach is probably Coach Long-Commute. Coach Long-Commute reminds me every day how fortunate I am to live and ride in this lovely part of the world. My daily three hour tour is the result of some smart choices I've made and even on the dampest days, the trip is interesting. Today, for example, the sky in Issaquah was the color of a funeral and the rain was pretty much a vertical river. But by the time I'd cleared the eastern slope of Cougar Mountain, I could see a patch of blue sky over Seattle and by now my jacket is damn near dry. Coach Long-Commute is gives me the mileage base on which I build my other adventures. Thirty-seven miles per day, five days per week adds up to thousands of miles in a year but more importantly, it makes 100 mile days basically easy. If I can ride 37 miles and work a full day, of course I can ride a century or more on my days off.

Coach One-Gear is the crazy old man of my coaching team. Coach One-Gear is a philosopher, something akin to a Zen Master. Coach One-Gear is the voice in my head saying "you don't need to downshift" when a hill looms up ahead and then I crest something like Irving street in Seattle I think that Henri Desgrange was right, it is better to triumph by the strength of my muscles than the artifice of a derailleur. Of course, I'm more Tao than Zen and now things run behind and now they run ahead, so sometimes I'm single speeding and sometimes I'm fixing. I've even been known to shift now and then but the bikes I stick with, the ones that see me through the best adventures seem all to loose their shifty bits somewhere along the way. It is not, as I explained once to my friend Brad, that I hate the gears, it's that they make me soft. Coach One-Gear keeps me honest and keeps me spinning down the trail.

There are other coaches, of course, like Coach I-Wonder-Where-That-Road-Goes? but Coaches No-Car, Long-Commute and One-Gear are the ones who keep me rolling every day.

Kent

16 comments:

PeterTwo said...

Love these coaches - thanks for sharing and the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

My favorite coach (whom I have been ignoring for a month or so, but hopefully not much longer) is coach Ridiculously Overequipped Cargo Bike. Definitely keeps me from getting soft, even with gears! Val

adam said...

I know those guys! Coach long way home is pretty good too.

Bryan Willman said...

Coach Scary Bathroom Scale can also be quite, er, motivating...

CurioRando said...

You are too much, man. Very funny, very true. Inspiration to those of us not yet ready to be so well-coached.

trio said...

Probably one of my favourite blog entries ever!

MichaelR said...

Best. Post. Ever.

dexey said...

I think that the high quality of this blog is because of that long commute; it gives you time to think.
Another very enjoyable post. Thank you

bikelovejones said...

I've been with Coach No-Car since 1990. I will neithr confirm nor deny reports of having been seen around town now and then with Coach Trimet (insert the name of your transit agency here).

chatty cathy said...

send yer coaches my way kent! coach pizza has been managing most of my training lately :(

Bruce said...

I remember coach Long-Commute! That guy was my nemesis for several years when I rode 41 miles round trip. Unfortunate circumstances have shortened my commute to around 19 km round trip.

I miss that guy now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kent... for those inspiring words. I'm new to cycling -- very new! Just picked up my bike yesterday. I'm not sure why I thought I could jump on and go up and down and fast and slow for at least 10 miles without tiring. (I'm a 59-year old female with about 40 extra pounds to lug around.) Anyway, after 3 miles at about 7 mph, I was whooped. You've inspired me to keep at it! Thanks again!!

Cellarrat said...

Coach "no car" is my favorite i think...

Tex69 said...

La buena sabiduria, como ya se nos explica. Gracias

Doug said...

For my two attempts at the Arrowhead 135 I used Coach No-car, Coach One-Gear, and Coach Long-Way-Home. With no other training I was able to finish that race. It's amazing the fitness level one builds up using those coaches and nothing else.

Dr Codfish said...

I rode 2 hours on the rollers today out in the shop. There my friend is a fiendishly harsh task master! I came into the house at halftime (Seahawks on the scratchy shop radio) fir a break.

Of course it was raining hard as I walked to the house. I thought to myself how rediculous it was to ride a bike in a stationary place inside a drafy, dimly lit shop, without windows ... to avoid riding in the rain! Sheer lunacy!

I actually decided to ride out side after I had my break, but then it occured to me, riding out side would be much less demanding (mentally) than going back out into the 'black hole'.

This is really excellent mental training. If you can ride for hours on a stationary trainer, or rollers, then riding around in bad weather begins to seem like a relief!

Twisted, truly.

Yr Pal Dr C