Vicious Influences

I think that winter is putting me in a retrospective mood, and you, dear readers, are the victims, I’m afraid.

I am sitting here this evening with about 10 tabs open on my browser. 3 of them are related to my work in Japan; one is my Gmail; one is Google Maps, which I’m using to design a new cycling tour; one is this blog post page; the final 4 are articles on High Intensity Interval Training.

Sometimes I think it’s fun to ask how we ‘got here’. It’s also fun to procrastinate – I have another deadline for my Japan job that I am pretending doesn’t exist.

My concern this article is those last 4 tabs on my browser. How is it that I am reading in a non-hypothetical way about high intensity intervals – things I never knew existed til a couple of years ago? Well, it’s probably a complex story, but I like my blog posts black and white, so I have identified a few people who have, in their own ways and often unbeknownst to them, helped steer me to this point.

imagesJoe B (1996): Before Joe Bechtold became a big shot TV star, he was a recovering triathlete who lived in Glenelg, South Australia. I happened to run into Joe B when I was working in Western Australia on a vineyard. I ended up in Adelaide a few months later and Joe had an extra room in his beach house. Moving in there changed the course of my life because Joe liked to do something called ‘training’, which involved riding fast, which I’d never done before.

I only ever went out on one ride with Joe (I had an MTB, which was reason enough), but I left Australia (by MTB!) knowing that there were people out there riding their bikes fast. I also now knew that there were fast bikes, but it was really just an abstract bit of knowledge at that point.

2009-11-08-211652That Guy on Tamagawa (2003): When I lived in Japan I rode all the time, but most of it was on the river that separates Tokyo and Kawasaki (where we lived) – Tamagawa. One day, on a long leisurely ride up the river, I met a Japanese guy on a road bike (I proudly rode a Maruishi Emperor, an 80s-style touring bike with shifters on the down tube) and we decided to ride back down together.

This guy put me in the hurt cave like I’d never been before. It was all I could do to hold his wheel and we were probably only going 25 kph. He told me that he had lots of bikes and that he’d lend me one. We agreed to go out again sometime. It didn’t happen, but I never forgot this humbling experience.

JH-Mug-shot-e1349640816769John, my partner in the cycling-tour business, reintroduced me to that hurt cave, back in 2010, on our first fateful ride together. Among other things, it brought me to the realization that I needed a lighter bike, preferably without a back rack, and with tires narrower than 35 mm. He is still taking me into the cave from time to time today, but on a good day I can return the favor!

img_2689-e1325331851388Karsten, an old friend from Vancouver, introduced me to cyclosportives in France, and we have, more or less, done one or two together each of the last 3 years. We rode my first Etape du Tour together in 2011. We are already signed up for next year’s Pyrenees Etape, so the tradition shall continue.

2013-08-16 12.01.18Coach Rob can be credited with a whole laundry list of improvements in my cycling. First, he patiently explained how cycling is good for me, and that the more cycling I do, the better I will be. This quickly led to 6-day-a-week training programs, a heart rate monitor, indoor trainer, a mild obsession with the weight of my handlebar tape, recovery shakes, leg shavings, a power meter, those conversations we have with our pain, and much, much more.

2013-06-23 13.29.59

One of you.

You! Yes, that’s right, you. This blogging business is far from a one-way street and I gain much more from you than you do from me, I am sure. The comments I get on many of the articles I post are thoughtful, intelligent and often very, very useful. I can’t count the number of ‘one thing led to another’ cases that originated with a comment left by you. So be careful what you say. I might actually be listening.

15 thoughts on “Vicious Influences

  1. Gerry – your blog is unlike any I’ve read, especially cycling blogs where it’s become sport to fire off nasty and hurtful comments that personally attack an individual’s integrity when they present a difference of opinion. Your blog is a place where fellow cyclist can participate in an open dialogue about the sport we love in respectful way, while learning interesting insights and different points of view that you we not have considered. Thanks for your unique style, fascinating stories, general and specific information and great views into the wonderful area of France you live. Oh yeah, and I love hearing how much it hurts.

  2. Gerry, I’ve only been following your blog since January/February (pre-HR) this year and on occasion would get a sense of your ‘history’ ie Japan. So it’s nice to read how you were influenced and how you got to ‘here’. And to do it with such grace by crediting those influences. But then, you leave more cookie crumbs (or are those raisins) of some other interesting adventures that you’ve had and done. I enjoy reading your blog. Keep it going.

    • Concur with all above. It was via your blog that I found out about the HR in the first place: and then via the blog you offered me a place in the great Vicious Cycle team.
      As Rob says, a ‘comfortable’ read with access to interesting and useful people and info. Honest, realistic and entertaining stuff for those of us who greatly enjoy turning the pedals, like a challenge, appreciate the camaraderie and do it (usually) for fun! Keep on writing!

  3. What a minute – you take these comments SERIOUSLY? I mean, you actually looks for things of use in them? Yikes. I need to be much more careful around here…

    Truth be told, I find the same to be true. The advice and comments I receive on my blog are extremely valuable to me and entertaining. Even the comments from France.

  4. I shall continue to provide vacuous and irrelevant comments while enjoying your writing and particularly enjoying the fact that I am able to bicycle without feeling any pain at all and get all the blood, sweat and tears vicariously. And of course be grateful for two excellent holidays.

  5. Your blog has impacted my life as well; lost 40 pounds, now routinely ride 70 plus kms, and my heart rate while riding has dropped 10 bpm, It’s all your fault. But don’t knock “80s-style touring bike with shifters on the down tube”. My ’79 Fuji Royale still works fine, kinda like paddling with a tire in the water to get in better shape. I’m sure you can still relate to that.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year.

  6. Always impressed, educated and entertained by the blog, Gerry. Not just the content (which is a great read), but the friendly and open tone that you and the community you’ve attracted have managed to maintain. As Rob points out, that’s quite a feat on the Internet.

    But I do have to take exception to one thing in this post – *never* dis the rack, buddy! 😉

    • Racks have their place in the world, Nigel. In my case it’s in the storage room! Seriously though, I told myself that 2014 I’d get out and do some traveling by bike again, but somehow I bought a power meter instead. It’ll happen. Maybe you’d like to come along again?

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