Enthusiasm, Curbed.

But the story doesn’t end with the title, happily. I actually started three different blog articles yesterday, with various headings, but all equally gloomy. Let me explain. I knew this was going to happen to some degree, but I couldn’t tell when and I couldn’t tell how badly. You might be able to relate, I hope.

Last year I was consumed by one big BHAG (more on this from Rob, who is experiencing the same thing) – Haute Route. All my time training, of course, was devoted to transforming myself into a rider who could get over 20 or so Alpine cols in a week. It worked. Then came the glorious off-season, when nothing mattered and I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. Then came January.

CaptureYou know January, dear reader. It’s the month where your training program doesn’t have the word ‘maintenance’ in it anymore, no matter how hard you look. January means business. Thing is, I just haven’t had the ‘umph’ this January. Starting the year with a cold, an ear infection and a continuing problem with me knee didn’t help, but it was more in the noggin then the knee, if you follow. There just isn’t much I can do to one-up Haute Route, other than doing two Haute Routes, I guess. I have signed up for the Etape du Tour (profile to the left) this July, it’s true, but this’ll be my 4th go at this event and, although it is still ‘epic’ personified, it doesn’t do it for me like in the ‘old days’ (before 2013).


But, as Rob points out in his article, fear is a great motivator. And I have just now signed up for the Amstel Gold sportive in southeast Holland (the hilly part), after receiving the good news that I won their little lottery. This tough, lumpy event, is only a week after my now-yearly drive down to St. Tropez for the Gran Fondo there. They are April 13th and 19th, respectively, which is only 3 months away. I’m petrified, in a good way.

A bonus of doing a Classics sportive, by the way, is that they are always a day before or after the pro version. Here is a video of last year’s event, if you are also still searching for your 2014 mojo.

36 thoughts on “Enthusiasm, Curbed.

  1. If there is one truth in cycling – it is that every year is not like the last or the next. If there is one truth in life – it is that the graph is not always up up up. It’s a new year. You will have new and different experiences. They might not be better or worse, just new. You are speaking to my own soul in this piece Gerry and a place where many of us probably are this January. One thing is for sure, we’ll be following your story to find out the ending.

  2. Congrats on winning an entry to the Amstel Gold! Let’s hope the weather will cooperate. Christian did it a few years back and I think there was a lot of suffering…
    As for a BHAG, have you considered any of the distance events? Bordeaux-Paris, for example? Or maybe riding the Etape on a Velib would be a nice hairy challenge?

    • Etape on a Velib sounds like a good marketing ploy. I’ll seriously consider this.

      I’m only doing the 150 km version of AG, but somehow those little ‘bergs’ frighten me more than the Alps right now.

  3. I think January is a bit difficult for most people… A friend has been busy testing out his new wheel set in preparation for Tortour, cf., http://www.tortour.ch, which according to him is ‘flat’. Anyway, I look forward to your AG report!

      • I believe he is going solo. Amongst my cycling friends, he is actually considered to be something of a god… Climbs like a fiend and descends like a demon. His new wheel set is meant for flat terrain… because he considers the route to be flat. Go figure.

  4. Rob said it before I had the chance. I’ve only entered one sportive so far this year (Tour of the Borders – that’s the Scottish borders) and am pencilling in a return to the HR for 2015.

  5. I hear ya! I’ve had such a struggle regaining my form after my mid year work trip, followed by 4 viruses, along with a busy family/work schedule. It can be very demoralising. I get some comfort remembering how even the top riders can have really tough years. Rob’s right though when he says no tree grows to the skies. Of course we want to see how high we can go given the environment we’re in. Then every new year restarts the whole cycle, and how we structure that will ideally relate to the specific goals we’ve set. Is it just about making epics longer and harder, or maybe it could be a year to focus on race-craft – the shorter Classics would be good for that, or even some crits. There are so many areas we can focus on for development, on and off the bike. One final thought, how about looking at the riders you admire the most, consider what it is about them as riders in a total sense and work on modelling these traits in your own way. I’m thinking with the long view in mind also, so the ‘way’ isn’t just about speed and physical toughness, it’s also mental toughness, the way we relate to other riders (whether as leaders, mentors or supporters). So many choices! Whatever happens, commit to learning, and embracing the challenges the year throws up, not just the ones we pay for! Bon chance!

    • Thanks, James. I’m going to do one new fun activity this year at least – finding my ‘power profile’, among other goodies I am supposed to be able to glean from the bunch of tests I need to do with the new power meter. These tests should tell me what kind of cyclist I am (e.g. climber, all-rounder, non of the above) and will help going forward by showing me what I need to work on to become what I want/need to become.

      Your point is well taken. I admire the Classics riders, for example, and now that I’m signed up for Amstel Gold I will see about training for it specifically this winter. It is going to be different from Haute Route, for example, because of the little hills that I’m sure everyone pounds up in zone 5. Fun and games!

      • I’ll be really interested to hear what you learn from the power tests. This is something I’m just starting to scratch the surface of. On the fun side, I also think about the different countries I’d like to ride in when I get he chance. Morocco would be amazing, or Tasmania, Canada – when it thaws. Scotland, with single malt rewards. So many places to ride in Europe, goes without saying. A lifetime’s worth of exploring.

        • I’ll be sure and let you (and the other 192 kind souls who subscribe!) know how it progresses, Dr. James. And yes, the number of places to ride is, virtually I think, endless. Any plans on a Euro-adventure in your foreseeable future?

  6. Paris-Brest-Paris, 2015? Totally different scene, though.

    Whatever specifics they are, I’m sure this year’s trip around the sun will bring its share of adventures, so don’t fret…

  7. Congratulations on finding your challenge for 2014! All you need is a challenge and even Einstein couldn’t event the Theory of Relativity every year. I’m with Suze, though. If I could pick one insane ride in Europe, it would be PBP. 1,200 kms in 90 hours. Self-supported. You can sleep in a hotel or just lay down in a ditch. And you need to complete several qualifying brevets to enter. That’s definitely a full year!

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