The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 11: The bed battle

Rarely, very rarely, someone will ask me a serious question about fitness or training or racing. These are terrifying moments, aware as I am that of all the people with zero value to share on such topics, I am certainly the largest negative integer in that department.

This person asked me about getting a coach. Now, I have lots of friends who are coaches, but that number will be greatly reduced after today because here is what I told my friend:

Unless someone experienced in both fields has evaluated you and advised you that you can make more money riding your bicycle than you can getting an MBA, coaching is stupid. Why?

Because the basics behind cycling improvement haven’t changed in 100 years.

  1. Eat right
  2. Lose weight
  3. Ride more
  4. Ride with those who are better than you
  5. Race

Once you’ve done these five things, and it generally takes 5-10 years to reach the right balance, you can start seeking advice. The good news is that when you’ve spent a decade doing #4 and #5, your coaches will be the people you regularly ride and race with, and they will gladly share what they know as well as point out what they think you do well and where you can improve.

Training plans, power meters, heart rate monitors, coaches … get over it. It’s a scam designed to obfuscate the harsh realities of 1-5 above, and to take your eye off the Reality Ball, which says you are old and slow and will continue getting older and slower until you die, which will be incredibly soon relative to your expectations.

In fact, when it comes to speed, your best investments are aero, carbon, diet, and winning the battle of the bed. Aero speaks for itself. Get a Sausage-approved Aero Pro Fit p/b Daniel Holloway and you will go noticeably faster.

Get as much 100% carbon stuff that is full carbon and you will go faster still, especially if it’s aero carbon, as if there were any other kind.

Diet is trickier, but in a nutshell here are the basics:

  1. Toss the radical weight loss plan. 143 pounds is not good for a six foot frame, and constant ravenous hunger is an unhappy way to live, although it sure sharpens every single faculty.
  2. Make incremental changes. Shave a bit here and there, and mostly rein in dinner. If you’re a 3-plate eater, first go from 3 servings to 2, and then from 2 to 1. Even if it’s sometimes a big serving, shoot for a norm of “enough to make me feel full but not stuffed.”
  4. Eat at home more often and put everything on a plate, except ice cream, which goes in a bowl. A small one.
  5. Chop the legs off of your enabler. He/she is the person who asks you 10 times a day “Do you want … ?” or “Do you want to go out for … ?” Cure the enabler by saying “Yes, but since you asked me, I’ll pass.” The enabler will be very angry for a while and no sex, but when you’re shedding pounds who has the energy for that anyway? Don’t waste your time telling the enabler to quit asking, just let the enabler know that no matter what it is, if the enabler recommends it, you’re refusing no matter how hungry you are. Pretty soon you’ll be back in control of what you eat and when you eat it. Plus, what hungry human can say “No” ten times a day? I can’t even say it once.
  6. Read “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. The protagonist’s only skills are “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” These are incredible qualities to develop in cycling, and in life if you have one. (I don’t.) Keep in mind that while it’s not good to be ravenous all the time, it is good to endure a few pangs during the day. It’s not normal to always be full or to sate yourself every time you feel hungry. It’s like expecting to race well without ever training hard.

The biggest fitness obstacle, however, is the bed battle. Everyone can testify to the difficulty of twisting yourself out of the clutches of the warm sheets, especially when the only thing on offer is a guaranteed 60-minute beatdown on the Flog Ride, cf. Joseph Y.

The bed battle cannot be won with multiple alarms or with pre-percolating coffee timers, and it certainly can’t be won when the person next to you is warm and cuddly and not very interested in your morning bicycle ride. The bed battle can only be won the night before, by going to bed early, airing up your tires, laying out your superhero outfit, and promising a friend that you will meet him at a time certain.

There. That’s all I know, and most of it is wrong.



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30 thoughts on “The Atheist Training Bible for Old Bicycle Racers, Chapter 11: The bed battle”

  1. The bed battle is the hardest of all. I am trying to find some new early morning friends to help with that. Just having 1 person to meet makes all the difference in the world.

  2. It may be mostly wrong, but it’s got my endorsement because that’s basically what I did especially the diet and battle of the bed (and the carbon and the aero fit to a lesser extent.)

  3. It’s funny how people can write hundreds of pages on training and not mention the most important common sense advice that you just wrote

    1. In fact, it could all be condensed thus: “Get the fuck out of bed.”

    2. You could probably shorten your bible into 10 commandments, starting with the one mentioned above

  4. I actually did get awesome training advice from you. I upped my RPM. And regarding Davis and Connie’s son, the boy works HARD. I remember a stage in the Giro when he rode in alone in the sleet trying to beat the time cutoff (the rest of the sprinters quit; he didn’t make it but he got a lot of respect).

    1. He works hard and rides well. Hope he recovers from his terrible leg injury.

  5. Hmm, hit the nail on the head, but from personal experience I’ve had a positive experience with coaching. Mainly for me it’s both metaphorically and literally helping to make sure you get out of bed.

  6. Even more hardcore:
    1) Leave C-phone at home (if it breaks fix it….run/walk home if required)
    2) No speedometers,cadence meters,etc. (Are you not sick of these already???)
    3) Water only in the bottles
    4) No sports supplements (no jells,etc) Food only (food= fruit,sandwiches….remember those???)
    5) DO NOT accept a wheel from ANYONE (RP rule)
    6) Use 25mm or wider tires….(helps with #5)
    7) Ride your TT bike twice a week…in the aero position…

    Hell,get real tough by putting slicks on your mountain bike and go ride with your usual cycling group. REALLY get mean by using a fat tire mountain bike…..I could go on but…….

    1. I no longer ride with cell phone, speedometer, HRM, PM, or Strava app.

      I only ride with water.

      I use GQ6 in long road races and eat nuts and dried fruit.

      When I flat in a race I quit.

      I ride with whatever tires are cheap or free.

      What is this TT bike of which you speak?

      I can’t put slicks on my MTB without first getting an MTB, which I won’t.

  7. AI from CHESCO, Pa.

    Yeah. The bed thing is the answer. I’m up and out by 6 given I have to deal with all the SE Chesco and Cecil County hillbillies. That’s motivation enough. Only water in the bottle, no gels or shit like that. Only real stuff most I make myself. I’m 52, older and slower and fucking proud of it. I don’t give a rats anymore. Thank you for the motivation.

    ps. What exactly is a “gel” anyway?

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