TWTW: A Very Belgian Spring
All of the usual signs of Spring are here. Proper road racing is finally underway in Europe for those fans that linger on after all the years of scandal and controversy in the pro peloton. Locally the race calendar is in full swing between CRCA, Prospect Park and Branch Brook. Yet somehow New York City was on the receiving end of yet another, possibly soul crushing, midweek snowstorm. So for much of The Week That Was most of TBD retreated indoors, keeping an eye on the weekend forecast in the hope that racing would in fact occur as scheduled.
Though some of us were more adventurous than others. Ted managed to get out on the local trails in New York City for some snowy shredding. He even blogged about it afterward. Separately Daghan headed out into the midst of the storm to grab a few off the bike photos:
Elsewhere in the digital realm we were playing a bit of catch-up on the Journal where Lisa shared the long delayed conclusion to our journey through Southern Europe back in 2017. 'No Bikes = No Likes' as the saying goes often holds true with our Destinations storytelling. But in our eyes there is plenty of adventure to be had on and off the bike so spin over to the Journal for a full recount of Barcelona in worlds and images:
And in the end, after we survived a long workweek, the weather proved cooperative for weekend racing. On Saturday the team had a big squad out for the second race in the CRCA Club Series. It was chilly but once again Erwin proved his break hunting expertise and snuck off the front mid-race. For the full race report including a discussion of some of our race rituals check out More of the Same: CRCA Club Series Race Number Two
We closed out the weekend on a grey and cold Sunday spread all about across the New York City metropolitan area. Clay, Clark and Cullen started things off before dawn at the first race in the Lucarelli & Castaldi Series in Prospect Park. Clay took home second overall while Clark, despite having raced the day prior in Central Park, nabbed his second top 10 of the weekend. Cullen meanwhile won the tired legs award. For those not racing it was a windswept training ride to the Orchards instead.
In sum, it was a week with more snow and slush than adventure and inspiring imagery. But fairy tales spun by Instagram influencers aside that is at times sad reality of amateur bike racers in New York City in Spring: too many grey days and too much time stuck indoors on the trainer. But hey, at least the weekend weather decided to play nice (for the most part). And in theory summer should arrive at some point in the next few months.
Reading, Links and Random Facts
So The Week That Was featured its fair share of challenges. On the bike Jacob cranked up the volume on training intensity, testing our pain threshold and mental fortitude while stuck indoors. Meanwhile off-the bike that same bleak weather and real world stresses left our reading wandering into the realm of human endurance and the limits of the mind and body:
"His existence had been reduced to a single purpose: making his mileage. When approaching sastrugi, he commanded himself to “attack, attack, attack.” After one such battle, he wrote proudly in his diary that he had stormed “the ramparts of every piece that was unfortunate enough to get in my way.” He added, “The sledge, now a battering ram and not a burden, smashed through all in its path.” When he was asked by his radio listeners how he persevered, he said that it was less about physical prowess than about how “strong your mind and will are—hours at the gym cannot prepare you.” The White Darkness (The New Yorker)
"Ocean kayaking is catastrophically monotonous. The primary challenge is not physical. Doba describes the tedium as a form of dementia: “Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of repetitions. The brain is removed from the process.” Alone at sea without his hearing aids, Doba joked, he grew so disoriented that he started shouting at himself “so that I could hear.” ...He intended to keep muscle tone in his legs by swimming, but he had to abort that plan because his body in the water attracted sharks. He was assaulted by hailstorms of flying fish." Why He Kayaked Across the Atlantic at 70 (For the Third Time) (New York Times)
"More than a year of exposure to the world’s wickedest elements had blackened and shriveled the man’s bare face and hands. His hydrant-yellow summit suit had dulled to the hue of a fallen leaf. The bottom of his boots pointed uphill. His frozen arms were bent at the elbows and splayed downhill over his head. It was as if the man sat down for a rest, fell backward and froze that way." Deliverance from 27,000 feet (New York Times)
Last but not least: over the years I have spilled a fair bit of ink on the trials and tribulations of organized racing in the United States. As the world shifts to Zwift racing (physical eSports?) and gravel grinding I often wonder whether organized road racing as we know it today will exist in another decade (and whether that matters). As a tangent to this long-term curiosity there is this delightful piece from Peter Flax at CyclingTips on the short lived Wolfpack Marathon Crash Race:
“We had this ideal community where ethnicity, socioeconomic level, and education level didn’t matter — we had people from lower income neighborhoods on bikes that cost very little hanging out with people who were state champions, or attorneys, by day. Obviously, there’s all sorts of segregation and racism in Los Angeles, but it was like on those nights when we rode together we got to pretend like this is what it’s like when everyone comes together and there are no problems in the world." Barely controlled chaos: The life and death of the Wolfpack Marathon Crash Race (CyclingTips)
Think you could ride the backwards brain bicycle?