Sunday, July 26, 2009

A spirited ride and a rider with spirit

The latter must come first. Jens Voigt crashed hideously in stage 16 of the Tour. His bar turned freakishly at speed on a descent and he landed face first off the side of his bike. Jens was tired; he had just crushed himself on the climb, pulling his team-mates Andy and Frank in full 'mask.' This man knows how to endure pain. His attitude is so positive, I wonder whether he suffers on the bike. There is a distinction: pain is what it is, it can be accepted. Suffering is not being ok with the pain. I get the impression Jens is quite ok with it. He just loves to hammer it. His attitude is what makes him my favourite rider. He has a strong spirit. Fortunately, being as tired as he was helped Jens avoid being struck by others when he crashed. He was at the back of the group. The man slid on his face for meters. I, along with the others I watched the stage with, feared Jens was very seriously injured. Fortunately, Jens is doing much better than we had supposed. I came across this video of Jens addressing his fans and supporters. Again, his spirit is so prominent. He takes his ill fortune in stride and looks forward. He epitomizes grace. I would not be surprised to learn that he is Buddhist. He exudes the Buddhist practice of non-attachment. Cycling benefits immensely from having people like Jens representing the sport. If only we could all practice the humble strength Jens does.

On to the spirited ride. Many expressed interest in a ride today while celebrating Candace's birthday Saturday night. However, the weather was not quite appealing enough for all to get out of bed and chamois up. Nevertheless, our group ended up being a good size: Jamie, Rodd, Glenn, Jeff, Mark, Andy, Stu and Shawn showed up ready to ride. Once Jamie resolved his four punctures at home that is.

Plans were not too lofty today. We rolled the first section of the QuinTuple route through Cantley, took the Chamonix dirt option, and looped to Wakefield. I finally reached, in fact exceeded my land speed record goal, clocking 101.65k/hr on the descent just before Cascades. The air was calm and there was no traffic. This is rare. Despite running fenders, the speed got up there. Must have been my skinny Pinarello cross bike's tubes. Whatever, I can stop trying for 100 now. My wife will be pleased...that I'll stop trying that is!

We opted for the 105 route into Gatineau, then onto the bike path to lead us onto the Parkway. This stretch was very nice. Unfortunately Glenn slid out in a turn and came out of it with road rash and torn shorts. Bummer. All in all the ride was just 105-110k, and we managed to maintain a pace around 28, which is spirited compared to our typical 25. Good practice for the QuinTuple.

Speaking of the QuinTuple, it occurred to me recently that the event is really best thought of as a team randonnee. Yes, TTTTT has a good ring to it, but it also carries connotations that don't quite fit the concept for the event. So lets think of is as a team rando. Randos are still timed. They are just not 'races'. Perfect.

I mentioned my Pinarello 'cross bike earlier. Today was a perfect day to ride this bike as it is fendered at the moment and I am trying 'determine' what sort of tubing will be best for me for the custom Steelwool being built for me in August. I will be posting a series of 'articles' about the process, beginning in a day or two. I am taking this as an opportunity to impart some of the things I've learned about bicycle design from my time riding and racing various styles of bike, along with some of the things I've learned while going through the process of envisioning and working with Will to design this new bike. I hope the bike confirms what others assert: steel can outperform carbon. My Pinarello falls just short of removing any doubt from my mind about the supremacy of steel's ride quality. I can't wait to see how the new bike feels. Stay tuned.


Andy said...

Rough day for Glenn, first a front flat descending on the gravel gap, and then a spill on the bike path. Hope you're doing ok buddy!

Pascii said...

He Matt, didja get a chance to try my bike?

Matt Surch said...

Not yet Pascii, Saturday was a write off and Sunday I was on the Pinarello - didn't want to subject yours to a full ride.

Pascii said...

you could have...but s'okay. I don't see myself riding the loop this week so you can have it for the rest of the week.