Upon consulting the mailbag this week, I have the usual pre-pantani ride chitter-chatter. What bike should I ride? What time does it start? Can you move the date? Normal stuff. I won't waste your incredibly busy Tuesday morning timewastage on that sort of thing, because I'm going to do that on Thursday anyway.
However, I will draw your attention to this little gem, which I found in the mailbag this morning, which has become more common that you might think:
From: (Wannabe) Pro Racer
Subject: Pantani Miss
Sorry to report I can't attend the Pantani Ride. I've got some big goals this year on the bike. My coach has a pretty strict plan shooting for a late-season peak for SM100 this year, and I also have no sack. So I'm bowing out, even though I really would rather be there than riding base miles.
Look, I don't know how to say this nicely, and I'll use an acronym in the future: FYC.
For a variety of reasons, and in a variety of ways, you are making a mistake.
First, you're really not that good. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I'm simply trying to give it to you straight. I applaud your 10 hour goal for our local hundo, which I cherish myself, and I'm wholly behind you making the most of your time. But you're not pro. You are paying to ride your bike, not vice versa. So the whole thing should be working for you, and not the other way around.
Skipping things that you want to do in favor of some training plan a coach you're paying $150/month to bitch at you via email once per week put together doesn't actually make your life better. This whole coaching business has morphed into a fucking racket, like the Amway of modern recreational bicycle racing. If you want to buy into their shit, fine, and maybe it's a valid way to spend your money to give you more structure to make your life better.
But I have noticed something. As human beings in the modern digital age, we seem to have become really prone to this for whatever reason. We skip today in favor of tomorrow. Could be the prevalence of online calendaring. September LOOKS really close.
Don't get me wrong: I understand investment. And if you actually don't want to do the Pantani Ride, by all means don't. For God's sake, there would be little worse than forcing that sort of torture upon yourself if you're not in the mode for it. Blaming your coach for it? I suppose that's OK. You are paying him after all. So if that's the case, then bless you, good luck training, and I'll see you at SM100.
But if you really want to ride Pantani and your coach says no, seriously, Feb 15th, FYC.
Write that down.
Certain life experiences outweigh the disadvantages of consequence. New Years Eve. Procreation. Las Vegas. These are all things worth doing, despite what happens after the deed is done. And it's not like you're going on a coke binge, or buying a hooker or something. You're riding your bike at an event with your friends, potentially riding it pretty hard, potentially folding under the early-season weight of it all. By some rationale, I think dodging your coach's approval for this one is OK. Your legs might pay for it the next week, and your coach might (only MIGHT) take notice of the marginal drop in power, but you can't buy more heart with some bullshit online training plan.
And fun is absolutely free.
Again, this shit is everywhere. We mortgage our current state of being on some future self that, purportedly, is an improvement. We work extremely hard at it. But the you right here today misses the absent you that has so fully banked on the future, and you seem to have forgotten that - unless you are the really select few (you're not) - riding bikes is not work. Come back to planet Earth, where the dirt is frozen, the sun sets at 5, and the riding is still pretty damn good.
In a lot of ways, The Pantani Ride is a celebration of that. Pantani himself isn't really a legend for his achievements - but it's the way he rode that makes him legendary. Feb 15th is an invitation to absolve yourself of the future tense. All of your commitments to your IRA, to your career, to the marginal gains on your powermeter can take the day off. As biographer, Matt Rendell put it, PANTANI HAD NO FUTURE TENSE.
"Looking back, there was always a fatalism in Marco's riding. He won or lost through foolish, inspired deeds with little sense of strategic calculation. The tangible holding-at-bay of the night in those unforgettable late-afternoon victories at Montecampione and Les Deux Alpes was always there. For others, stage-racing has always meant weighing up the potential of stages to come, and riding accordingly - riding, it might be said, in the future tense. Marco had no future tense. His style, in life, like his cocaine use and death, was lyrical, not narrative - a losing himself in time - and, in time (or outside it), the forces that had allowed him to live, consumed him as they comsume us all." - Matt Rendell, The Death of Marco Pantani
Up, up, up.