Confidence, and “Just do it”
So, I’ve been sick for the past 10 days, and yesterday, I finally feel well enough to indulge myself in a porterhouse steak together with the girlfriend. Also, I finally feel confident that I can go out and do a training session without feeling fucked in the chest by moss-green phlegm. At 0415 hrs this morning, I rose from my bed, blinked out the sleepiness in my eyes and pulled my bib shorts on. 15 minutes later, I was pedalling towards Mount Faber for a Hill repeats session together with Joel from RCC. Nevermind that I only slept 3.5 hours the previous night.
Mount Faber. Love-hate relationship with that stretch of road. It’s a short, windy piece of road, steepest part ~7%, with a 300m plateau bit that offers quite a bit of respite. But it’s the descent that I really have a problem with. I have no idea who was the genius that decided to put speed humps immediately before tight right-handers, Faber has two of these. The cycling community is small. And often you hear of someone that hit the deck going through one of these two corners, because of a lapse of concentration and not scrubbing off enough speed, or trying to brake through the corner and the rear wheel slips out and underneath you. Broken forks, snapped top tubes and frayed downtubes were often the results, but perhaps your bike would be one of the lucky few to roll away unscathed, with the rider picking up a mere couple of scuffs to the palms and elbows.
At some point in time, I just decided that I wasn’t going to let that fear cripple me. I was slow going down Faber, and I knew it. Tried to make up for it with my better-than-average climbing skills, but if we were ever to do more than 2 laps, I’d be dropped like mosquitoes flying through fogging smoke. This morning, there were only a few more hardworking souls going up and down Faber’s gradients, so there was clear tarmac ahead to try and get a feel for those descents. The Vittoria Corsa CX III tires have been pretty good thus far. They bite onto tarmac quite happily, and are predictable in how they bite. One thing I promised myself, was to not pedal on the downhill, thereby training two things at once: 1) to pick and hold the fastest line; 2) ‘feel’ braking distance and braking force.
Descending is actually tiring. Climbing, I found that I can often switch off in between corners and just pedal. But your concentration has to be “on” from the start to the finish. As I’m typing this, I’m reminded of the long sweeping descents of Penang, especially Gunung Jerai. THAT was a descent. Thankfully, today’s laps went by without a hitch. I feel that I have more confidence descending now.
The night before, I was still contemplating whether or not I should go do those Faber repeats. One part was laziness. The other, bigger part was a fear of crashing again. But I suppose confidence is something that you get by DOING, not contemplating. Slowly, easy does it, and then you get faster and faster as your confidence builds. Much like putting loose change into a piggy bank. Day 1, it doesn’t seem like much, but over a few months, that piggy bank would be filled with coins with a substantial amount of money inside it.
Now, can someone tell me how I can get my hands on those Nike cycling shoes seen on the feet of Adam Blythe and Mark Cavendish?
Nike, ever considered sponsoring amateur racing? Grassroots sporting events? (I’m just taking a stab in the dark here…)