The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 6: Having the right de-equipment

January 24, 2014 § 19 Comments

As you continue your rest period, being laughed at by Sausage, called out by Donnie, and ridiculed by the entire NPR peloton as they pass you yelling “Spin, wanker!” and “Wanker on the right!” and “Outta the way, moron!” and “Are you available next Thursday?” you must have faith and be strong. This is what it was like to a Christian in the lion’s den, or, even more horrific, to be an atheist in a Houston public school in the 70’s.

Now that you have spent days on end going slow and tweezle spinning, your legs should feel fresh, relaxed, happy, and purged of the two most lethal chemicals that stand in the way of proper muscular and cardio development: lactic acid and old beer. However, this is only the beginning. Your adoption of the Wanky Training Plan ™ requires that you begin to tune in, turn on, and drop out (of Strava).

Proper training requires the absence of the right equipment

Before moving on to the next step in the WTP, please take the following handy-dandy quiz.

  1. I am on Strava. Yes/No
  2. I have a power meter. Yes/No
  3. I have a heart rate monitor. Yes/No
  4. I have a Garmin. Yes/No

Did you answer “yes” to any of these? Of course you did! So, let’s take them one-by-one and figure out how we can get you completely dialed into the Wanky Training Plan ™.  First, Strava. You need to get off this, just like you need to get off crack, meth, and Facebook. Not happening, you say? I know, but Strava’s not helping your cause because it becomes an end in itself. You fear posting a ride (Lane! Brian!) that’s not awesome, as if you’re a porn star who can’t get the job done on film. The reality is that by constantly forcing yourself to perform on Strava, you’re letting the software dictate your workouts — and tire you out. So what’s a Gollum-like Strava-head to do?

— Ride for the next thirty days without uploading a single ride.
— Quit looking at other people’s rides.
— Turn off the “You lost your KOM!” alerts (assuming you have any, which is doubtful).

Next is your addiction to the power meter. Studies have shown that no one ever rode faster due to a power meter, but millions have ridden slower, or given up riding altogether because of one. A power meter is a feedback mechanism that, at best, confirms what you already know: You aren’t that fast. Remember the first time you got one and how devastated you were to learn that your FTP was equivalent to that of a Cat 4, or a newt? Then remember how, after a year of hard work, you were only able to raise it to a Cat 3, or a salamander? Shuck the PM and accept that no improvement will ever come as the result of a device. Better yet, accept that no improvement will ever come. So, take off all your crank-connected, hub-connected, pedal-connected power meter devices and give them to someone you really despise. You’ll be glad you did.

Heart rate monitor? Really? There’s no need for this item. Like the power meter, it will only tell you that your heart is beating so fast you can’t possibly sustain the effort, so quit now before the infarction. Although the heart is an integral enemy and perpetual foe in the WTP, for now all you need to know is that you can — you must — ignore it.

Nothing has done more to ruin the essence of cycling than Garmin. This device has reduced the open road, the huge vistas, the stunning sunrises, the incredible panoramas into a tiny little plastic screen that spits out “data” which only tells us what we already know: You are slow and weak, and getting slower and weaker. Ditch the Garmin.

So what performance measuring device do I really NEED?

For hundreds of years, the holy grail of sailors was a watch that could keep time. Once it was invented, people conquered the globe by being able to plot longitude, enabling them to sail from an obscure port in Europe all the way ’round the world and back again in tiny barks scarcely worthy of the name “ship.” If it was good enough for Columbus, wanker, and if it was good enough for Eddy, then it’s good enough for you.

That’s right, the only device you need to measure your performance is a Timex wrist watch. If you can measure distance and you can measure time, then you can measure speed. Scott Dickson didn’t need a Garmin to win Paris-Brest-Paris. All he needed was a wristwatch, plenty of scotch, and an iron will. The wristwatch is likewise all you need for measuring cadence. Start the stopwatch function, count out 30 seconds worth of pedal strokes, multiply by two, and boom! You’ll have your rpm’s without needing to adjust magnets on your spokes, your crank, your chain stay, and without having to wirelessly ANT the whole thing to a $500 computer that, after the ride, you have to upload to a remote server, then upload to WKO+, then analyze with graphs.

Just use the stupid watch. Really.

Now that you’ve de-equipped yourself, you’re ready for the first week of non-training. Here’s your plan:

  1. Calculate your normal rpm with the wristwatch.
  2. Add 20 rpm.
  3. Ride for two hours at the new cadence.
  4. Drink a shit-ton of beer after you finish.

Don’t you feel good now? Sure you do.

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§ 19 Responses to The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 6: Having the right de-equipment

  • channel_zero says:

    37 YO, average cat 3 and taking so much Testosterone he turned positive.

    Looks like he’ll have a couple of years to get his head right and use the Wanky Training Plan.

    Happy to see SCNCA doing testing in 2014. Will be interested to see if NCNCA does the same.

  • tunverzagt says:

    Hmmm, interesting that I can answer “no” to all your questions on the track, but I do have HR and a garmin on the road. I used a HR monitor once on the track and the numbers that came up basically said I should be dead, so I stopped using it.

  • JPrumm says:

    I used a power meter for a few months. It was embarrassing how little power I could produce. I had to sell it or I would just stop riding. Plus why would a 45+ need to know he sucks that bad. I would rather keep my delusional dignity.

  • Usta Befit says:

    Had the pleasure of attending Stephen Roche’s camp on Mallorca in 1996….spent a week getting throttled by a bunch of old French Pri’s who would smoke cigarettes while they waited for us at the top of the climbs. Got to ride with Alex Steida & race karts with him too. First thing I did when I got home was throw my Avocet 30 in the trash…haven’t had a computer on a bike since…guilty as charged when it comes to Strava but I only look at it after the ride. Too much beauty on the road to waste time looking at my phone.

  • SteveK says:

    What % of lean bike mass should be comprised of carbon? I keep trying for 1.2% but can’t quite seem to get there. Heck, I can barely stay at 5% this time of year.

    • fsethd says:

      This is a good question because it shows you are at home, sitting on the sofa with a beer and not pointlessly hammering out gruntervals. The answer is obvious: Drink another cold one, then go out and spin.

      Carbon content of your muscles is only relevant on Tuesdays.

  • Deb says:

    Strava can be used for other than KOM and PRs and all those acronyms. I like to see where people ride – not how fast, just where. And to see where I’ve been. Some days it’s pretty amazing to me how much ground we can cover on bikes in a metropolis like soCal/LA. I don’t get hung up on cadence, power, speed, or any of those pesky things. Feet, yes, as in elevation climbed, but that’s just because I’m a geek. For all you training, though, do stick with Wanky’s plan. I’m pretty sure it’s all a very elaborate ruse to lull you into some sense of progress while Wanky secretly plans to kick your tweazly spinning behinds.

  • Uncle Jam's Army says:

    My best friend has won every race there is to win in So Cal, and he did it without a power meter or any kind of computer. He vaguely keeps track of time using his cheap Motorola flip phone, and he has only a rough estimate of how far he rides.

  • Chad vande lune says:

    I love your ATB for old bicycle racers. I’ve was lucky enough to of learned most of this stuff when I started racing. Guys like Kim West took me under there wings. I must point out though that Scott Dickson is a major milage junky. From what I’ve heard he used to keep track of every mile and his numbers are very impressive. I’ve heard rummers that he went something like 14 years of not missing a day on the bike and it didn’t count if he didn’t ride a least 20 miles. This was while he lived in the midwest, riding threw the winters. I also heard he had a long streak of at least one 100 mile ride a month. When I say long I mean years. Anyway keep up the great!

  • blinky says:

    Even though I can say yes to all four, there is a lot of truth in this blog. For example, I never look at my HR or power during a fast ride. First of all, it is important to keep your eyes on the road at all times. Second, it will just tell you that either 1) your HR is unsustainable or 2) your power sucks.

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