I loved playing rugby for the camaraderie, but more so the total physical battle in moments of mano-a-mano. I also have a rage problem, and venting on cool and damp Waikato mornings helped.
I engage in tramping for the mental challenge it provides, using a skill set and part of my brain which remains underdeveloped, and every moment of doubt and panic is cherished when I am lost, or late.
Track cycling is immense. Twice a week I go to coached sessions at the local Velodrome, points race, scratch race, a Keirin, match sprints… We are taken through our paces. Sprint efforts are 10, 20, 40 seconds of whiteout pain and whole body skirmish - I love them. Yet, I must address my fitness: “I feel your pain during the endurance events” quips a coach and 3 x World Junior Medalist.
To that end, I rode into town today to meet some friends at a local market. I ate a piece of breakfast loaf (rye, walnuts, carrot, dates) and rode the 30km to the market. I arrived early and enjoy listening to a folk band as I sat under a tree eating a delicious cheesy crumpet (an hour after my loaf). Friends and my wife arrived and I had a coffee. 2 hours after my crumpet it was time to cycle home. 15km later I hit a savage and impenetrable wall. A wall of hunger, nausea, faintness, tunnel vision and mental anguish.
The wall, bonking, call it whatever you want. I hate it. I’ve experienced it a couple of times when tramping. Once it was after 4:45am start from home, the 3 hour drive to the Kaimanawa, and 14km over the Umakarikari range under heavy pack, I stopped and felt quite faint - and against all better judgement nestled into some scrub in a hollow out of the wind - I woke up an hour later, with still many kilometres to travel and an unplanned hour lost to my wall.
Today’s bonk was just as hideous. A dead straight road, 15km to go of flat tarseal, yet I could do nothing by click up my cassette and languish on the drops. I fought every urge to arrive a stranger’s door petitioning a jam sandwich. An autumn fat and plush coated bunny hopped along the verge aside me. I dreamt (for a moment) a la Gollum of sinking my teeth into juicy flesh. I was in a bad way.
Normally when I tramp I am disciplined to a point about stopping every hour for exactly 5 minutes, getting my feet elevated, eating, drinking and mentally reviewing what has been and what is next. In this fashion I have covered 40km in a day, walking in long NZ summer light before pitching my tent fly, making dinner and falling deeply asleep. My nap in the Umakarikari range was down to nothing more than failure to eat imposed by a nagging an counterintuitive sense that I had too far to cover that day to stop for snacking.
I struggle to carry or enforce this eating habit to cycling. To stop from 3km/hr whilst tramping is nothing. You just don’t lift your foot and you stop. A proud and dry mossy boulder makes a comfy seat, your pack comes off and you’re drinking and eating and judging where to refill your bottle. To stop from 30km/hr goes against a mental barrier. In a 5 minute stop I would sacrifice 2.5km. I’d look stupid on the side of the road eating a cooked egg. But what practicalities I eschew! I don’t wear a cycling jersey with pockets spilling with bananas. I often ride in a t-shirt and denim shorts: road cycling with carbon and lycra being the antithesis of my idea of fun. So fossicking about in my homemade handlebar bag for snacks is a bit of a pain and, frankly, I’ve never considered what I’d even carry.
But I must, I must address my eating habits whilst on the bike. Whether my need for an hourly nibble is unique or not I do not know. I broached the subject with a colleague and NZ high-perfomance schooled athlete - he looked at me incredulously and explained that once, when he rowed for over 4 hours straight he at a glucose sachet. My need for horological sustenance was lost on him. If not exercising I can pass a day fasted without noticing, but when there is sustained aerobic effort involved in an event, I must graze. I think this post is nothing but a brusque self remonstration.
As an interesting aside, a brief iMessage exchange with my wife proved interesting today. She was unaware of the usage of “bonk” to explain famine fatigue. I had forgotten the baby-boomer’s penchant for using “bonk” to mean sex.
Clive: 5 km from home, had the most monumental bonk, feel like SHIT. I have to remember to EAT hourly, even little bits when I’m on the bike. Bleaugh. Home soon. How are you getting on? Don’t over do it!