Cycling

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Re: Cycling

Postby Peter.H. » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:56 pm

Hi Tosh.
My words in blue.
Tosh wrote:... It sounds like 'the zone' is a kind of mindfulness meditation. Yes, that's the word. I also think there's lots of similarities - analogies even - one can make about our spiritual path and endurance sports. Firstly they're both really difficult when we first start. Just trying to stay sober or start exercising from scratch isn't easy. And early on in either we can make great gains very fast, but later we hit the law of diminishing returns and it gets harder in a different kind of long-term way.
Good analogies.
For me, any stagnation while in AA recovery, on a spiritual path, or an endurance sport, has appeared to be ........an illusion of sorts.
  • In both AA recovery and spiritual path, my pride has subconsciously crept in and taken control. My will has taken over from God's will. I want to run the show my way - a dry drunk, and a tight fisted preacher.
  • In an endurance sport, my body starts to wind down and feigning fatigue, or refuses to pass through a recorded limit.
    • With fatigue, my ego-mind usually looks for distraction and wishes my body to give up what it is repeatedly doing (pedaling, pedaling). I usually test this by increasing the pace for a while, if I really am fatigued I will soon give up. But in most cases I am awake again and happy to move along at a pace that I started of with.
    • With recorded limits, my ego-mind becomes afraid of the unknown, and fears success more than failure. I usually clench my teeth and give myself a nudge to break through the barrier - just to nudge the limit up a fraction. Why I fear success is because I am then obliged to work harder to reach my new doable limit. By not reaching that limit is a form of failure anyway.
In all the above, a lack of faith was present.
Riding in the zone eliminates these illusions... Hmm, maybe the zone is an act of faith.


And we can get obsessed with targets and forget about why we originally started living a spiritual life/exercising. For example I've been through periods with running where I'm focussed on getting faster - and it sucks the enjoyment out of the sheer joy of running for the sake of running - just like in sobriety we can go through periods of not living the spiritual life, but focussing on making money, or sex, or [insert distraction here]. I rarely train with a gps watch for this reason.
I agree. I too at times cover my bike computer screen with a bit of tape. At the end of the training, I often find that I have performed better without it.
When racing, both pace and tactics take dominate the ride. The goal is to conserve as much energy as possible even amongst the fray. Many riders, up the front, will try to drop as many riders as possible be repeated surges of speed - to tire the weaker riders. A race is a ride that others test your limits.
I got dropped many times. Then an ex-national racer (AA member) told me: "To finish first, you must first finish". My goal from then on was to stay with the first five riders of the bunch. My next goal was to focus on the procedures of racing a bicycle. As soon as I start worrying about the results (if I finish/win or not) my mind is not on riding my bike and conserving energy. Instead I am wasting my chances of finishing the race.
The same with my AA recovery, when all seems to go soar, I go back to basics - reread the Big Book, go to identification meetings, do twelve step work, and do step 10 and 11 daily.

I do try to be mindful (get in the zone) when I'm running, but when I'm tired, everything's hurting, my self centredness does the 'poor me' thing. Or sometimes my thoughts just seem more attractive than being mindful, like I've got to distract myself - so my thoughts will have to do in the absence of anything better. A guy I sponsor calls this 'distracting ourselves' thing as 'avoiding God'.
I like that call very much, thanks Tosh (and your sponsee).

I really like the resting heart rate thing. I understand the principle behind it and I've got a sports heart rate monitor too. I'll give it a shot in the morning.
I check my RHR as soon as I start waking up, before getting out of bed. While I am still in a restful state. Otherwise the RHR quickly jumps up 10 bpm.

Peter.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:41 pm

Peter.H. wrote:With fatigue, my ego-mind usually looks for distraction and wishes my body to give up what it is repeatedly doing (pedaling, pedaling). I usually test this by increasing the pace for a while, if I really am fatigued I will soon give up. But in most cases I am awake again and happy to move along at a pace that I started of with.
[*]With recorded limits, my ego-mind becomes afraid of the unknown, and fears success more than failure. I usually clench my teeth and give myself a nudge to break through the barrier - just to nudge the limit up a fraction. Why I fear success is because I am then obliged to work harder to reach my new doable limit. By not reaching that limit is a form of failure anyway.[/list][/list]
In all the above, a lack of faith was present.
Riding in the zone eliminates these illusions... Hmm, maybe the zone is an act of faith.[/color]


This bit; there's a lot of stuff here applicable to day-to-day life. I love the spiritual cross-over between endurance sports and life.

I'll keep that bit about pushing myself when fatigued in mind. Thanks.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Cycling

Postby Peter.H. » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:14 pm

I wish to share a small part of my recovery story, to let the newcomer know that a life of sobriety allows us alcoholics to try almost anything. We may not succeed in our attempts, but as a drunk, we could not even attempt such things.

Every four years there is an international event that caters for older sports people, the World Masters Games. It is similar to the Olympic Games. Each time the venue is held at another country. The 2013 event was in Turin, Italy. The next one in Auckland, New Zealand, 2017. I hope to be there.

In 2009, the event was held in Sydney, Australia. I was in the road race for the 55-59 year age group. It was a short fast 56 km race. I finished in mid-field, a most satisfactory outcome indeed.
Personally, I raced most personal best average speed. I am sure it was both the atmosphere and the importance of the event that spurred me beyond my limits.

Below is the image of the race venue and a picture of three of us about to enter a corner at about 40 kph.

Image

I forget how many laps we had to do. After the first lap, the 70 odd starters were broken up into 4-5 groups. I was in group 3. We tried to close the gap to the second group, but to no avail. In our group, we had about 15 riders, the first 4 riders in our group did most of the work to keep the pace as fast as we could handle. We took turns to ride up front, to break the air around the rest of the riders. The others rode in the slipstream.

The final sprint to the finish was just to cut our losses as much as we could. I was able to win in our group by doing 60+ kph for the last 150 metres. A few hundred metres after the finish line, we were herded into a closed-in area, off the race circuit. It was here that I got an overwhelming response by the other riders of our group. Everyone patted me on the back and said thanks. I was a bit confused for the reason, but I think it was the effort in doing most of the work. What ever it was, I had never felt so accepted by a bunch of complete strangers before. It brought tears to my eyes.

I could hardly stand up, my friends quickly came over to support me. My mentor asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I could not answer him. My mind was numb. He knew my brain was low in glucose. He quickly gave me a sweet drink and told me to get back on my bike and spin my legs for awhile (I could ride better than I could walk). After about 10 minutes, my body and mind was back to functional.

Though I did not win the race, I did accomplish far more than any race I entered into.
  • I pushed beyond my personal limits into unknown cycling experiences.
  • Knowing that I can lead and sacrifice myself for the group without getting a resentment.
  • Meeting cyclists from around the world and making new friends.
  • Actually competing in a sport (I never done before getting sober) at an international level.
All this, after recovering from a hopeless state of body and mind, called alcoholism.

Cycling, after this event, took me to higher levels of performance, and to the Masters World Championships. How can this equate to a glum existence after a life of drinking?
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]
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Re: Cycling

Postby CGPoolman » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:58 am

Peter H,

Thanks for this great share and photos, they are truly inspirational! This program motivated me to make many changes in my life as well. Not only was I an alcoholic, but I was also a pack-a-day smoker for 25+ years, and battled my weight all my life. This program helped me to understand that ALL things can be overcome by having faith, and the willingness to take steps to over come those obstacles. I was 260 lbs when I walked into my first meeting and could barely go up a couple flights of stairs without getting winded. It took time and a lot of work, but I got where I wanted to be. Just as there are rough spots in overcoming the obsession of alcohol, there were other obstacles in my way of achieving my fitness goals. I endured a couple of stress fractures in my feet, shinsplints, tendonitis, etc.

Other than a few years of (American) football I played thru school, as an adult I never ever would have imagined myself competing in any sport, much less becoming a runner. Over the last few years I've collected a rack full of medals and I've loved every minute of it.

Here's a before and after, along with some race finishes. The before photo is about a year before I came into AA, the after shot is about a year after. The first finish line photo (on the left) is the very first 5K I ever ran. The last finish photo (on the right) is from my first Half Marathon this past October. None of this would have been possible without this program, and I am grateful for this gift every day.

-CG
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Re: Cycling

Postby Peter.H. » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:38 am

Thanks CG for your inspirational post.

I am very happy for your transformation from drunk to sober spirit, body, and mind.
Keep up the fun of running and good work towards experiencing a fulfilled life.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:26 am

Great pics; love 'em. Here's my effort:
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Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:34 am

Peter.H. wrote:Cycling, after this event, took me to higher levels of performance, and to the Masters World Championships. How can this equate to a glum existence after a life of drinking?


That's pretty cool stuff. Respect.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Cycling

Postby CGPoolman » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:00 am

Tosh, great photos! I think it's awesome that it's something you and your wife do together!

I've always wanted to try a real off-road race. I've done a few of the shorter mud runs but that's more of a "fun" event. There's the Masters of All Terrain and also the Tough Mudder that are on my list of races to conquer.

-CG
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Re: Cycling

Postby Brock » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:29 am

You fellows are making us mere mortals tired, just looking at the physical life you lead, but well done, this sort of thing really demonstrates the full life in recovery. I don’t do anything nearly as physically demanding, but I enjoy manipulating photographs, and hope Tosh doesn’t mind, but I put him doing what any real Englishman would do, springing to the assistance of his fallen queen.

Brock.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:23 pm

Very good, Brock! :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Cycling

Postby Peter.H. » Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:56 pm

Thanks Tosh and Brock.

Tosh, I agree with CG, how fortunate that your partner also participates in the sport you do. Thanks for sharing your sporting efforts and the photos Tosh.
In the above photo of you finishing a race, it looks like you have become a role-model for the young one behind you.
Is it not funny/strange that during the sport of endurance and strength we grimace with determination, yet become excited in we achieve something.

Brock, funny photo collage. If only we can make such easy amends. :lol:
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]
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Re: Cycling

Postby ann2 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:03 am

I'm so sorry! I had to remove the pictures featuring identifiable faces. Please see our Start Here forum for our commitment to online anonymity.viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2898

Thanks!

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:06 am

No problems, Ann. I didn't want to get stalked by the ladies here anyway. :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Cycling

Postby Peter.H. » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:37 am

About a year after the World Masters Games I entered into the World Masters Road Championships. This annual event is held in St Johann in Tirol, Austria. In a previous post, I mentioned attending AA meetings there: viewtopic.php?p=103006#p103006

I traveled alone from Australia to Austria. Stayed at a lovely self-contained single bedroom unit. I preferred that, so I could cook my own meals the way I liked them. This place was located 100 metres from the actual race circuit, but about 20 km from the start and finish line.
Image

I trained there for a month before the start of the race. During the training period I explored the countryside, all in my bike. One day I decided to ride to and around Lake Chemsee in Germany. It was a 150 km (about 100 ml). The countryside was magnificent, but I forgot to take my camera, so the next day I did the trip again, taking snap shots along the way. But on this occasion the weather was overcast with a few showers. Here are a few pictures:

Church hidden on the mountain pass.
Image

Lake Chemsee, looking back from where I came.
Image

Lake Chemsee, at cafe. Met some older German cyclists.
Image

I also took photos of certain places along the race circuit that most people would not take photos of. They were places that I needed to remember for the race. For instance, I am not very fast going up hills, so I need to make sure I have sufficient energy to burn, yet not get burnt by the top of the hill. So at a predetermined distance before the hill I need to consume a power gel. It is at this place I took such a photo. I also had photos for when to perform certain tasks, such as where to start a 200 m sprint over a hill crest, if I needed to. Everyday I studied my photos, and whenever I trained on the circuit, I practiced my tasks. The race circuit is about 38 km, and the race requires us to do two laps.

Scene not far from the start line of the race circuit.
Image

A shrine on the side of the smaller of two hills.
Image

These photos are of my competitors in the World Masters Cup, an event one week prior to the Championships. I did not enter, because I did not think I had the capacity to perform both races in peak condition. Instead, I observed my competition. In this photo, they (55-59 year age group) are about to reach the top of a 2.3 km hill climb. All of these cyclist rode the entire hill out of the saddle pushing a big gear. This race is a race of strength more than anything else.
Image

Image

Here are a few photos of my favourite cafes in St Johann: (instead of pubs, it's cafes) :lol:
Image

Image

This is the outdoor podium for the (various age group) race winners. It takes a few days of racing to cover all the Masters five-year age groups, and the different events.
Image

Unfortunately, for me, I crashed my bike not long into the race. I do not remember what actually happened. I was unconscious for 40 minutes. Apparently I was the only one involved in the incident. Paramedics flew me by helicopter to St. Johann hospital. I received eleven stitches to my chin, I lost a tooth, and received a black eye as well. My bike's carbon fibre frame broke in four places, and both wheels were damaged, but repairable. So, I did not finish the race. I am hoping that I will be able to return, one year, to finish what I started out to do.

After I returned home, I decided to do some art therapy, to help me get over my accident. I used my blooded jersey, gloves, and broken sunglasses to create a large collage.
Image

Overall, and regardless of the crash, I experienced a wonderful overseas trip, met lovely people along the way, met my competition, made new friends, and had a go at doing something that was far beyond my imagination as a drunk.

As an AA friend, Jack, says: "My life is not my old one polished-up, but a completely different one, far more joyous and adventurous I thought possible".
Jack introduced me to cycling. He is now 70 years old and still rides his bike, averaging between 250-300 km per week.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]
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Re: Cycling

Postby Tosh » Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:30 pm

I'm a bit aimless at the moment with my running, apart from the odd race here and there. Mrs Tosh and myself are running a half marathon next month, right where we live (Severn Bridge Half Marathon). I say we're 'running together', but in reality she drops me like a hot potato and dashes off; she can run a sub 1.30 half marathon if she's specifically trained for that distance, whereas I'm a more sub 2 hour kinda slow coach. When we did 'that marathon' she beat me by over an hour and accused me of stopping off for chips (fries) en-route.

She's after me signing up for a race called "Race the Train" where I guess we race a train! I bet the train beats me. Last year she did Man versus Horse and she really enjoyed it. It was 22 miles over some tough terrain racing riders on horses. Sometimes - because the terrain is so tough - a runner wins; but usually it's a horse.

So, Peter, CGPoolman and anyone else, what's your next challenge?
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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