Sunday, July 12, 2009

Speed and the Macho Syndrome

I took a full week off from training following Ironman Coeur d'Alene on June 21. But as a masochist with OCD and an inferiority complex, I signed up for two races: an Olympic distance tri in Pittsburgh at the end of July and a half-ironman one week later. It forced me to get back into training after the ironman. It took about two weeks before my calves stopped feeling like cement on the run, but my biking and swimming came around much quicker. In fact, my biking seems to have gone to a whole new level.

When my bike got back from Coeur d'Alene, courtesy of TriBike Transport, I decided I needed a change. Although I was never a speed demon, biking had become boring and stagnant -- and it showed in IM CDA. Without the luxury to buy a decked-out carbon fiber bike, I made a less-expensive upgrade: Speedplay pedals and new bike shoes (actually, old never-worn shoes that I won in the Chicago Tri in 2002). How will that help? I don't know, it just seems like "what the fast people use." And we all know that new shoes make us faster, right?

My first few recovery rides were on the trainer so I had no idea how fast I was going and I don't have a power meter. But my first road ride on a familiar course was a surprise -- it was consistently 1-2 mph faster overall than the last time I rode it, pre-ironman. The kicker was that I wasn't trying to go faster, it just happened. Since ironman, all my rides are faster, I feel stronger and I can push myself harder both mentally and physically. Jim theorizes that it's the rest. We'll see in a few weeks if it pays off in a race.

Which brings me to my other point. I've regained the killer instinct. During yesterday's long ride, I saw ahead of me someone wearing the jersey of a local bike shop tri team. I chased him down, said "hello," and passed him like he was standing still. I never looked back. When I stopped at the red light at the next intersection, he was right behind me, possibly drafting -- I had no idea he was there. He said nothing to me and just sailed through the red light like I didn't exist. I call this the "macho syndrome." It's not the first time it's happened to me. I constantly come upon male cyclists who HATE to be passed by women. It happens on the road. It happens in races. In triathlons, when someone passes you, you must drop back out of the draft zone before you attempt to repass. Macho guys just continue to race you. After you've legally overtaken them. But it's not just the "racing" behavior. It's also the attitude. The unfriendliness. Why don't I see this behavior in swimming and running? What is it about cycling that triggers the macho syndrome? And, how many stories have my male friends told me about how they "took on" drivers who were taunting them while riding? Is it the wheels? Do motorcyclists act the same way? It's a mystery to me, but I will say this: the greatest feeling is to pass one of these guys on the run in a race. You KNOW who you are.

(photo by Julie Gauvreau)

No comments:

Post a Comment