Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days. ~ Doug Larson (newspaper columnist)
In cycling, as in perhaps all human behaviour, nostalgia is a powerful force. The ‘good old days’ always present a simpler template for the complexity we face today, as well as a stylistic cachet. What is Rapha, for example, except for nostalgia well-filed and with an extra lustrous sheen added?
Nostalgia is an opportunity to strip away the excess baggage of complications and view the past with the comforting glow of fondness. Ah, how much better it was in the 80s (substitute your favourite era here), with Hinault, Fignon, LeMond, Herrera, Hampsten, Roche and so on. (Of note, someone remarked recently that 2010 is to the 80s as 1990 was to the 60s, in terms of time elapsed – a sobering thought.)
Of course it was not necessarily better back in the day, just different and – let’s be honest – there’s been a fairly dramatic increase in the quality of cycling jersey quality, as just one example, from those terrible 80s lycras.
Still, nostalgia, or looking back at past exploits for inspiration, is a popular pastime at this time of year. Despite the relatively mild weather that Vancouver is experiencing at present (unlike the rest of the northern hemisphere, apparently) it is still hard to get motivated. With no plans for overseas excursions or epic local rides, your author is finding it difficult to muster up the enthusiasm for anything more than casual riding.
The New Year is a good time for drawing up the schedule, though, for identifying goals for the year and making notes on what goals can be achieved and the training required to get there. For your author, 2009 was a bit of a bust for racing with training time seeming to evaporate and July rolling around without sufficient miles in the legs. 2010 is shaping up to be no improvement unless some serious time management is put in place.
Having a goal or a singular focus is helpful for boosting one’s motivation. In 2006, your author had a trip to Alpe d’Huez and its surrounds to prepare for; in 2008 it was Mont Ventoux and a chance to join the ‘crazies’. There is nothing like the fear of the French cols to inspire base mileage in the cold and dark, or hill climb repeats on Spring afternoons. A specific goal requires prioritizing, and priorities require special attention. And a positive goal – posting a new PB for a hill climb – seems to work better than a negative one – such as “not getting dropped”.
But so far the calendar for 2010 looks pretty clear. One event, though, is a must. The BC Masters cycling weekend in Courteney/Comox is well on its way to becoming a regular excursion for your author and Mrs W-R. This region of Vancouver Island is simply beautiful with stunning mountain and coastal scenery, which somehow seems to comfortingly familiar as well as excitingly exotic.
The weekend affords the opportunity for some treats – hiring a car, a scenic ferry ride, hotel cable television (it’s usually Tour time), a side trip to see the goats on the roof at the Coombs market, and tasty local epicurean delights.
And the racing is great! It is an omnium weekend and last year added a time trial to the road race and hill climb events. The latter is the final race and features a fairly tough 10 kilometre course up the picturesque access road to the ski resort on Mt. Washington (with great views of the Comox glacier). While it is only 600-odd metres of climbing, with gradients up to 11%, as well as some July heat, and with tired legs from two other races, it is a good challenge – mostly in pain management.
The 2009 edition was a shortened version of the 2008 route that was 16 kilometres with the first 6 kms featuring 400 metres of ascent with brutal gradients close to 13%. Your author posted a time of almost exactly 60 minutes that year (the winning time was 53’53″). Any climb that takes more than an hour ranks as serious and this route is probably a category 1 equivalent.
The shortened version takes around 25 minutes off one’s time. Although 2009 was a less-than-stellar year for climbing performances by your author, he did manage to ride relatively well and to hold off late charges by two strong finishers. The decision to drop the first tough section of the course was mostly popular as everyone was well beat from the weekend, and the organizers wanted to encourage more younger participants from the local club without scaring them off.
Still, it would be nice to see a return of the full course in 2010 – those first ramps are reminiscent of the Col de la Croix de Fer for sheer, bug-eyed suffering. Ah, the nostalgia. Perhaps there is something in 2010 to aim for after all…