Rule 2. of the Official Rules of the Euro Cyclist (here) says:
“Training shall be based solely on feel, while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct: that is to say, “soul.” The Euro Cyclist will never accept tried or tested scientific training methods.”
There’s something refreshing about just getting on your bike and riding it. No speedo, no cadence, no distance, no heart rate, no nothing. So Euro, right?
I mean, that’s how it used to be done. Before a race, you’d pull on your woollen jersey, fill your bidon with champagne, rub some embro on your legs, have a cigarette, and then ride your bike, really fast.
Idea is romantic right, back to basics. My only real experience was at Northern Combine race this weekend and it was not fun.
So there I was, lined up on the start line with my new Cycling Victoria Women’s Development Squad and a bunch of c grade men, ready to race…with no Garmin. How retro was I… But…What was the hell was I going to do? Get over myself that’s what. Just bloody get on your bike and ride it.
So I did. The race started.
Next thing I knew, the hammer was dropped and so was I.
I expected more from myself. I expected to at least hang on, at the back… But I didn’t. The bunch surged and my body said no. My brain said, don’t give up.
I don’t even know how far into the race I was before I was dropped. But, it was not very far in.
1. I got dropped and 2. I had no idea if I was riding fast or slow.
As I rode by myself and wondered how fast I was going, how far have I gone, I kept looking down at my empty Garmin mount. Nothing. All I could do was keep peddling. I kept telling myself don’t give up. I was well within my right to chuck a tanty and pull the pin on the race, most people would. My pride didn’t allow it.
I had placed so much expectation on myself, I was there for the first time, racing with my new team. And I had failed… As I rode, I constantly told my brain and legs to pedal faster. I found some motivation every lap passing a friend who was a corner marshall and having the new team managers in the support cars (one of which serenaded me for the final 5km) offering wise words. But, it was still freaking hard and I was freaking out. I smiled as I thought of rule no. 46 of the Euro Cyclist –
“When asked “how are you?” while riding the Euro Cyclist must proceed with one of the following…
i. Complain about coming off a sickness
ii. Explain that one is peaking for bigger races later in the season
iii. Mention that this is a “recovery ride”
iv. Explain that one is at the tail end of one’s daily six (6) hour training ride”
Ha. Excuses , excuses…
i. I was coming off a bad flu, ii. yep, i’m peaking for bigger races in the season, iii. I wish this was a recovery ride, iv. Oh god, what if this race was going to take 6 hrs to complete!?
As fun as riding “Euro” style seems (read the rules they are hilarious), it is hard, and lonely, and not really that fun. I did not realise what a distraction the Garmin provides. You can focus on your Garmin, forget about your legs, and your brain.
As a true Euro cyclist would…I finished that race. All 90kms of it. I came dead last. I laughed as I crossed the non existent finish line (it was packed up when I crossed it) and thought to myself, how the hell did I do that?
I didn’t feel very Euro after that race. I felt deflated. Defeated. But, I was determined. I could have used a bidon off champagne though…My new teammates were very supportive. They rode fantastic races themselves. One of which came an admirable 2nd.
So, I’m not a Euro Cyclist – I need my “tried or tested scientific training methods” (Garmin) and the perceived security blanket provides. Racing guided by “sensations and instinct” is a nice theory, but very hard mentally and physically.
I did learn from that race. I did finish.
It was a test of my “soul“, and I think I passed.
Get on your bike and ride it, by yourself, for 90kms and tell your brain to shut up. You don’t need gadgets to ride your bike, you just need to ride one.
I will not approve negative comments on this blog.
Regarding my grading in c grade men. I was entered as part of the women’s development squad, so had no choice in the matter. Our entry was meant to be about learning, which we did. Most of the squad hung on to the men, one came 2nd. I had a bad day/race.
If the marshals had to wait for me to finish. I apologise for any inconvenience caused. I started the race, so I was going to finish the race.
I too will be a volunteer at some stage, and I will wait for any stragglers. No complaints.