Thursday, January 27, 2011

Encouragement and abuse contd

The Guads are disturbed.

A few people have been commenting on how BZ seems to be a cliquey little circle (a "boys boarding school", as one critic dubbed it), and that taking advantage of the knowledge there entails putting up with a lot of crap from the regulars.   Normally, this wouldn't really rate a mention, but when no less a luminary than The Manster seems to imply that there is an element of "fit in or get out", the Guads start to doubt.

However, this gem has put an end to that doubt:

If anyone had the temerity to doubt the judgement of the Guads, this should remove those doubts.   The Guads are infallible, and you should know that.   However, the Guads also forgiving, so welcome back to the fold.

Not to go off on a rant or anything (as Dennis Miller would say), but here are a few things that the Guads need to get off their, erm, chest.

Not every opinion is correct.   Some opinions are wrong.   People are absolutely free to believe in whatever they want, but that doesn't make their beliefs right.  This little fact seems to have gotten lot in today's politically correct world.   And that means all you Creationists as well - you guys are wrong.  STFU and deal with it.   Excusable mistakes are just that - excusable but also, and here is the vital bit, mistakes.

Some people are stupid or close-minded (which is, effectively, the same thing).    Now, this is distinct from being wrong and being open to correction.  No shame in that.   If you haven't made mistakes or erred, you haven't lived life to its fullest.     The Guads have no beef with honest mistakes.   Even Guadzilla has been known to err every so often (yes, I know it is hard to believe).    The main thing is, we keep an open mind, learn from these mistakes and move on.

However, there is a different type of ignorance.   Here, the ignorant person embraces his stupidity as if it were a severely-aroused and well-oiled Angelina Jolie squirming around on a giant bed of jello.

We will now take a break while the Guads ruminate on that particular image.

Ok, where were we?    Yes, holding on to the embrace of ignorance as if it were a desirable lover.    Now, the Guads are of the firm opinion that it is not their job to protect people from their ignorance.   Being mostly nice and kindly Guads, they do try - but if the person is not receptive, then they move on.

The problem is that over the Interwebz, ignorance tends to proliferate faster than a sex-crazed rodent with a lifetime supply of Viagra.     And the idiocy tends to take on a life of its own, and other, well-meaning beginners get fed lines such as "high cadence is only for people with weak legs who cannot generate torque" - and that too from someone who, at the age of 18, needs to take pills in order to manage the pain in his knees.

Somewhere, the God of Irony just suffered a heart attack from overload.

At the risk of treading perilously close to Godse's Law (that's the Indian version of Godwin's Law), I would like to refer to a quote from the Bhagwad Gita (Guadzilla is one literate lizard), which mentions that turning the other cheek when faced with wrong only encourages the wrong-doer.

I think it is the duty of more experienced cyclists to take up cudgels on behalf of the beginners, who come to forums such as BZ and DM, and give ignorance a beating that hasn't been seen since LA's finest  tuned up Rodney King.    Pointing out abject stupidity isn't the wrong thing to do - it is the ONLY thing to do.

While the Ignoramii are free to wreck their own knees or other appendages, their brand of idiocy should be contained and culled as efficiently as possible, in order to prevent it affecting others.   Reasoned debate works with people who are willing to listen to reason - the Ignoramii only deserve the electronic version of a taint kick: snark and mockery.

The Guads have spoken.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dailymile, encouragement and abuse

So I am away from the Interwebz for a few days, doing more important things, and I log back on to discover this gem:

Now, I know all the people involved and get along well with all of them.  But whenever there is strife in the world of velocipedes, it is the job of Guadzilla to come in and restore peace, sanity and the allure of bling.  

So with that, let me get in my few cents - I hope it does not upset any of my friends, but the Guads demand a correct verdict, without being biased by personal feelings.    So here goes.

1/  The original post is a very valid point.   Blindly applauding everything is not always the appropriate thing to do.  Note - no one has said that ALL encouragement is bad:  only that some of the encouragement is often ill-advised and that always being a rah-rah, pom-pom waving cheerleader is not always a good thing.   Does anyone really disagree with this?  No, I thought not.   Dont bother trying to justify any encouragement you may have provided.  Supporting a beginner athlete with his achievements is NOT the same as blindly saying "good job" to everything.    If you can think of atleast a few cases where blind encouragement is bad, then the OP is valid.  QED and the Guads will brook no more argument here.

Moving on.

2/ The post about it being a "brant" is a personal attack.    Period.    The OP's motives are not up for discussion, and it doesn't really matter WHY he posted what he did.  Discuss the point raised, don't attack the OP for why he raised it.

2a) Brant - great word.

2b) The Guads don't think the OP is guilty of bragging.    When you achieve a certain level of excellence in something, you have earned the right to challenge others and even use your own achievements as an example.   It isn't bragging when you can walk the walk.    It is called "stating facts."   The Guads dont like false modesty.

3/ The response to "some types of encouragement are bad" is not "so why are you here".   That is again attacking the person, not refuting the message.  Besides, it is illogical.  There is a big difference between not liking some aspects of Dailymile and finding it completely worthless.  

4/ Again, the OP's comment is extrapolated to the extreme - "it is a social forum so if you want silence, go somewhere else".   Saying "some encouragement is bad" is not the same as saying "all encouragement is bad."  Logic fail.

5/ More personal attacks, calling the OP delusional - not cool.   Very defensive and emotional.   To be honest, I think the OP showed a lot of restraint despite repeated unwarranted personal attacks.  Sorry if that offends anyone, but that's the way the Guads see it, and the Guads dont let personal prejudices come in the way of saying what needs to be said.

6/ Encouraging someone for taking the baby steps is not a bad thing, and I challenge anyone to show me where the OP said it was.  People, stop clouding the issue by setting up strawmen or jousting at windmills.  Argue the point that was made - viz, the blind encouragement on DM can, and does, lead to people encouraging training which is not appropriate.    

7/ Was "fuck you" appropriate?    After a bunch of repeated and somewhat excessive personal attacks, being told to STFU is fair game.    Maybe a little excessive, but whatever - on the interwebz, we are all just names and the Web has its own code of conduct.   However, this is the least relevant issue.

What the Guads find interesting is how many people seem to have gotten their panties in a wad and over-reacted when told that not everything is worthy of encouragement.    Despite repeated clarifications from the OP, people kept putting words into his mouth and arguing against it.  

As a society, we are a little too careful about saying anything that might be construed as confrontational or offensive.   Everything is applauded.  I've had people say "good ride" to exceptionally mediocre achievements, even by my relative low standards.   Well, the Guads say "fuck it" to that whole mindset.    Let's have the intellectual clarity and logical rigorousness (is that even a word?) to challenge our thinking, and separate the person from the point.  

Even if this WAS a brant, was it invalid?  No.  Argue the point, people, dont attack the person.   Even if you dont like the delivery style, have the intellectual integrity to separate the delivery style from the content.  

So in summary - the Guads rule in favor of the OP.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First real ride of 2011

Today, finally, I managed to go and get a decent ride in.    Woke up very late but was out of the door with the bike within 5 minutes.   Goal was to get in a decent 2 hour aerobic ride.    As it turns out, I lost a waterbottle somewhere along the way and rather than stop, refill my remaining bottle and keep going, I ended the ride after 1:40.

Was running the Mavic Open Pro/105 wheelset that I had laced up last year.  They seem to be holding up quite well - hit a few big bumps today and they seem relatively true.  I still need to get a proper truing stand to confirm, though.

A more interesting thing I realized on today's ride was what a difference tire and pressure can make.  I was running 700x35 Ritchey Cross tires (knobbies) at 70 psi front/80 psi rear and my aerobic pace was a lot slower than normal.    Need to put faster rubber on those wheels, just on general principle.

The sun was shining, the cars were well-behaved (and that is because 2 days ago, this small island with 20km worth of roads had its first road fatality when a speeding taxi hit 2 people) and there was a cool breeze blowing.   Even the island elephants were out - by the side of the road, thankfully - and the dogs were also mercifully silent.  And I had new music on my iPod - a mix of rap, metal, techno and classic rock.

It was good to be out riding again!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

If at first you dont succeed, eat cake instead

Now, as I mentioned earlier, Jan is my pre-base.  So I wasnt planning on doing a lot of rides this month.  But I was supposed to get out on my bike a couple of times a week and get some easy rides in.

Besides, I had my new Psimet Powertap rear wheel, replacing the wired Pro+ wheel I got from Competitive Cyclist in late 2009 - Elite+ hub laced to DT Swiss RR585 rims with 32 DT Swiss Comp spokes.   Build to my specs - sturdy and bombproof, weight be damned.  And at 1400+ gm for just that wheel, weight was indeed damned.  I reiterate - this was by choice:  Psimet makes fine, lightweight wheels (I have a pair of clinchers that are sturdy and yet <1500gm), but I need a wheel that would let me ride over every damn pothole here on The Rock without whimpering or crying for mama.

And so, a couple of days ago, when I woke up to cloudy skies and a cool sea breeze, I was - in strict violation of the Roadie Code - actually looking forward to getting on my velocipede and putting in a Z2 ride for a couple of hours.   I had put on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (heavy buggers, those) and was ready to show those potholes that they. do. not. mess. with. the. Guads.

About 3.5km into the ride, I heard something knocking in the rear wheel, despite having Deadmau5 playing on my iPod.  Hmm, thinks I, what can it be?    And decided to stop and inspect the rear.   And just as I unclipped and got off, the rear tube went with a loud bang that scared the crud out of me.   Apparently, the Marathons were not seated properly.

Hmm, thinks I (a state that I am eminently familiar with), how the hell did that happen?

I had, of course, no spare tubes (hey, I have had 1 flat here in the past 14 months, and that was a pinchflat caused by bombing over a pothole at 40kph+, it isn't really essential).  So I flagged a passing jeep, hopped in and headed back.  And there, as I was trying to put in a different tube, I realized that the valves on my 70x28-37 tubes were too short for the 30mm rims.  There was no way I was going to get a tire bead to seat on the rim AND get the valve to extend beyond the rim.  Damnation and eternal damnation.

So I went and ate cake and did a couple of runs instead.

Moral of the story - no matter how much schwag you have, you never have enough.   That's what I take away from it, anyway.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The end of the first week of 2011

And thus, my first week of training for 2011 has ended: 1 outdoors short aerobic-paced ride, 2 rides on a trainer, a couple of runs and some weights.    This month will be easy, with a greater focus on running and maybe 2 rides/week outdoors, and 1 spinning session on the trainer.    And I am saying "screw this" to roadie-skinny, and going back to doing weight training for my upper body.    If that means a couple of extra kilos, so be it.

The big question facing me is - what do I really do about base?   Thomas Chappell and Joel Friel both are very keen supporters of a proper base period.   However, Hunter Allen, in his recent e-book on TT Training, actually says that he thinks long slow rides are not really that useful for TT riders who are doing shorter, faster rides.  His argument is, the loss of wattage in base takes a long time to gain back.     And he recommends a month off the bike, with a strong focus on running, as a way to crosstrain and kick off a new season of training.

That makes intuitive sense for me - but so do the arguments for base:  namely, improving aerobic efficiency, which allows for greater  FTP gains later.  

The good thing is, Chappell, Friel and Allen all agree that the first month of a season is best spent cross-training, so that is what I plan to do for the rest of January.  Then we will see what we will see, I suppose.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A discourse on The Commandments

A few additional thoughts and clarifications on The Commandments.

Firstly, Commandment #8 was written when the Guads were in a state of post-rant mellowness, somewhat equivalent to the flat-lining that happens on the day after popping a pill of ecstasy and clubbing all night.  Or so I am told.

So with that in mind, here's the First Amendment to the Commandments, and it applies to #8:

8/ Thou shalt not look down or differentiate between any cyclist based on frame material, choice of groupset, wheels, color, tire width or attire.  Hipster skinny jeans and triathletes are bereft of this exemption and thou are free to mock them as much as ye want.  In addition, Roadie Scum are hereby given license to sneer at all other cyclists for any and all reasons whatsoever, provided that their level of contempt for others shall never exceed their degree of self-loathing.

That about sums it up.  Roadie Scum are allowed to be haters.  After all, it is the essence of being a roadie scum.   

Think about it - they shave their legs, they stick a hard saddle into their taint, they pay big $$$ for a bike whose sole purpose is to be so stiff that every little bump on the road gets transmitted via said rigid, lumpy saddle right into their taint and despite all of that, there is always someone faster.    Anyone who embraces this has earned the right to sneer at others, if for no other reason than to maintain consistency.

As for why the Commandments mock Triathletes, it is very simple.  I'll use a set of images which are absolutely neutral and representative.





And, as the coup de grace, compare a typical cycling event (NSFW) with a typical triathlon event (NSFW and definitely not for the squeamish).  

Convinced yet?  

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Rage of the Guads

In yesterday's blog, I talked about how I have prepared a plan for the coming year.  Well, that plan got off to a great start - I missed my 60 min Z1 ride today.  How's that for a promising start?

I was kitted up and just as I was pumping up the tires, I realized that the FSA canti brakes on my bike were rubbing the wheels.  Turned out that the dish of my hand-build (by me) Mavic Open Pro Wheels/105 hubs was off, and the wheel was skewed to the drive side.   With dual-pivots, this would be an easy fix.    With cantis, it was 30 min of tightening the non-drive-side spokes and I still need to check the wheel for true.    So no ride.   Not a big deal - this month is prep month, with a focus on cross-training and weights, so I am not too bothered.

However, I will tell you what does bother the Guads - and since I live above them, by extension me as well:  it is arrogance coupled with stupidity.  I have a simple rule in life - if you are good at something, you can be arrogant about it.  It's not the nicest thing to be, but whatever, you've earned the right and I can respect that even if I don't necessarily like it.  You can also be dumb - after all, 50% of the people on this planet are below-average.   Nothing wrong with it (well, nothing that I can blame El Estupido for, anyway).

But what makes the Guads grumble in quiet anger is when people display a degree of arrogance that is completely at odds with their ability to justify said arrogance.  This bit of idiocy is a good example.

Here, you have someone who:
1) Thinks that there are a lot of web-surfing, environmentally-conscious and socially-active people who are unaware that burning gasoline leads to pollution
2) Thinks that instead of actually taking concrete steps to make her own lifestyle more socially acceptable, a token gesture would be more useful
3) Thinks that Sunday is a good time to make a stand by "refraining from driving to work"

The mind boggles at this level of idiocy.    Seriously, what is wrong with people?

There used to be a mindset that went, put your own house in order before trying to change others.  Apparently, at some point when I wasn't looking, actually doing things became passe and got replaced by token gestures which serve absolutely no useful purpose other than to  act as a not-so-metaphorical lubricant for some mutual ego-masturbation, usually at a dinner party or some such other urbanite gathering.

Masturbate the "ego"

And shame on all of you who merely sit back and don't have the intellectual honesty to question and challenge.   If you say "well, atleast she is doing something", you fail, because that means you have not done anything constructive yourself and thereby have no basis to challenge the ego-masturbation session - continuing the metaphor, yours isnt big enough.

Everybody wants to be a general, nobody wants to be a footsoldier.    After all, footsoldiers get killed while generals get the glory.   Adopting a lifestyle change, such as riding a cycle to work, or donating to a wildlife conservation charity is effort/work.  Why do that, when you can do something token, such as join a Facebook page to support tiger conservation (oh, I am sure the poachers are quaking in their boots at that!) or have a little stroke-session by not driving on a Sunday?

And when stupidity is not challenged, it tends to grow, much like fungus spreading through an unwashed taint.  Thus, we now have people who plan a cycling trip to the mountains and ask for sponsorship, because it is to promote world peace, eliminate poverty, free blowjobs for all or something of that ilk (ok, I support that last one).    One yobo is going to Sri Lanka on a cycling holiday and it isnt just a bike tour - it is a tour of friendship and love.    Another collection of nit-wits decide to do a social 8km ride (yes, 8km) in order to support Livestrong!  

Enough, i say!  This needs to end.  So here's a simple set of commandments from the Guads:

1/ Thou shalt not need an excuse to ride your velocipede.   Doing it for fun or self-loathing is reason enough.

2/ Thou shalt not use the name of cycling in vain in order to raise funds for your holidays.  

3/ Thou shalt not try to "spread awareness" of any event or cause in which thou hasn't actually gotten off thy fat fucking ass and done anything constructive - and in the event thy pathetic ego does make you break this rule, thou shall never involve cycling in this.

4/ Just because thou rode thy bike a few kilometers doesn't qualify you to speak for all cyclists.   "STFU" can, and will, be applied to you as deemed appropriate.

5/ If thou shalt espouse any cause, and link cycling to said cause, expect to justify exactly how thy cycling helps said cause and what concrete and specific changes thy actions will produce.   Note ye here that inciting others to laugh at ye and yer sorry ass doe not quality as a concrete and specific change.

6/ Lycra is thy friend, whether ye like your tires fat or skinny.  Give in to it - let your freak flag fly and let your junk stay put.  Be honest with thyself, and be not ashamed because of what the non-cyclists think.    Those of ye with Brooks saddles are hereby exempted from this clause, with the caveat that thou shalt embrace the soft, massaging clasp of lycra when thou return to the realm of normal saddles.

7/ As a cyclist, it is thy duty to keep the cult of cycling free from posers and wanna-bes.  Thou shalt thusly and actively call BS when thou sees BS.

8/ Thou shalt not look down or differentiate between any cyclist based on frame material, choice of groupset, wheels, color, tire width or attire.  Hipster skinny jeans and triathletes are bereft of this exemption and thou are free to mock them as much as ye want.

9/ There be good pro racers other than Lance Armstrong.  Thou art required to know about the life and palmares of atleast 4 other racers, 2 of whom must be multiple TdF winners, before thou art allowed to  sucke on the one nutte of the Armstrong.

10/ If thou art a chubby woman, thou shalt not wear cut-offs that expose your belly and if you art endowed with testicles, thou shall never, under any circumstances, ever wear Speedos in public except if you are competing in a sanctioned swimming event. (Not necessarily cycling related, but this is important nonetheless).

The Guads have spoken.  So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Guadzilla goes live

Typically, the start of a new year is heralded by lofty goals which only a few weeks later are forgotten by the wayside, like a low-fat healthy dessert next to a plate of walnut brownies with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

In my case, my targets for 2011 are very simple - break the sub-hour 40k TT target.

This was also my target for 2010, and I came to within 5-10W of achieving this.   Due to a bunch of reasons, those additional 5-10W eluded me but I can honestly say that I actually did chase the target for the whole year.  One good thing that came out of all this was that I learned what works and what doesn't work for me, and I plan to apply it to my training this year.  

Have started with a more structured overall roadmap for the year - last year, while I had a few months of structured training, the overall scheme was not so well laid out, and I ended up peaking a month before TfN.  This year, the plan is to do an extended amount of base - 4 months minimum, maybe even 5, before getting into 3-4 months of build, focusing mainly on FTP.  Then we'll see what we'll see.

For the month of January, I am doing prep work before starting base in Feb.  This means weights, cross-training, stretching and a few hours of short, easy rides every week.

This is also the year I take my Surly LHT out and go do a proper tour on it!  For too long it has been sitting unused in my room.  That changes this year - starting, hopefully, in mid-Feb - and I'll be posting trip reports, photos, etc.