Failure is not an option

Now: define failure.

Something I’ve had problems doing for years now. Yesterday evening: is it failure to cry uncle and get picked up when the ride took longer than I thought, my hands are freezing, and I’m facing riding through town in the dark with all the scary drivers out and about? Or is it failure to be stubborn and push through when my training goals dictate otherwise? I feel good about pulling the plug, I wanted to ride for 7 or so hours, and did. I rode well, was focused and right now feel tired but not destroyed. Another shivering and nervous 90 minutes would have done more harm than good. Recognizing this for the strength that it is has been a construction of the last five years. Running and getting injured, climbing dangerous routes, and making my marriage work have all given me the perspective. It all helps me sleep well.

In some ways I was never fully alive until I started rock climbing when I was 13. I can’t recall being particularly passionate or interested in anything previously; the lacuna of memory that is my dad’s death when I was 11 makes a clear look before impossible. At least for now. Climbing gave me something to test myself against, it also in the stress of high school became cast rigorously in black and white. In the year’s since I’ve been trying to gain back some gray.

My goals for this year are scary. Transiowa is frightening. Not because of the misery I know awaits, but because of the choices that misery will bring forth. I’ll have profound ego in the event of a DNF, but only if in the next months I give myself a reason. So, the buisness of the day, every day, is to ensure and honest success or failure. And to remember that, suffering notwithstanding, this is all supposed to be fun.

I’ll get to revisit the roads where I rediscovered the interest in riding a bike that largely dimmed when I crashed and broke my clavicle, mountain biking when I was 12. Those are the halcyon days, when I would ride half an hour across town, pick up my friend Adam, ride an hour or more out to the state park, ride trails for 2-3 hours, then ride back to his house and then mine. All in jean shorts, without repair gear! We never got a flat on those rides, and even when I had that crash I still rode back to his house, trying to ride one-armed over the pavement seams.

Marni’s right Chris, kids are remarkable.

All the unremarkable details:

The Brooks is beginning to break in, taking all the tension out helped enormously. I’m somewhat concerned that my natural position on the back rests a bit on the metal frame, but I also think the leather is still hard enough that I wouldn’t know if that were the case. On the other hand, even though it never felt that comfy, my ass isn’t sore at all today. I’ve been religiously wearing chamois shorts thus far, but my eventual hope is to dispense with the funny looking nut-sweat-factories and be able to ride all day in capilene undies and “normal” shorts and pants. Plus the leather is polishing up a bit under use, and looks awesome.

I’m really pleased with everything about the bike, in fact. The monkey is intuitive, period; regardless of what I’m riding on. Yesterday’s ride had almost everything one could find to ride on locally, and it did great. Once the saddle is truly broken in, I have very high hopes for comfort and utility (and not getting my skeleton rattled on the Rim Ride in March).

I’ve also developed what I think is an excellent test of rigid fork and frame compliance (big and ambiguous word that it is): no handed riding on solid washboard. Provided you aren’t about to go into a ditch or be hit by a truck, it give you time to relax and examine exactly how much movement you’re getting from each piece. Based on this and memory, without head to head tests, it seems to me that the monkey fork is the Salsa Cromoto grande’s equal, while the monkey frame is a good bit stiffer vertically than the Soma Juice. The Juice/Salsa combo’s flex pivot point (if you will) was about 5″ back from the headtube, right where the top and down tubes start to significantly diverge. The Monkey’s is squarely at the fork crown. Not a very scientific test; yet it seems to me that both flex-characters have benefits and draw backs.

Most importantly (and this speaks to the overall question of “emperical” testing of bikes and bike parts) the geo advantages of the K Monkey are far more significant than the flex characters of either bike. I haven’t noticed the monkey beating my up any more, for “shock” on a rigid bike a tire makes way more difference than any small change in frame or fork. Not that I would turn down a ti fork if someone gave it to me.

I’ll write a comprehensive and final comparison of the Juice/Cromoto and Monkey/Monkey after the White Rim. It should provide a fertile test ground for such questions.

Business remaining for the day: 1.5 hour run, pile o’ grading, and looking into elk permits for this fall.

And yes, brown IS my favorite color.

1 Comment

  1. Throwing in the towel is such a hard topic for me too. There are times, the E12 hour for example, when I pushed though amazing suffering and Marni kept sending me back out those last few really hard laps. I learned a lot that day about what I could do and how much I could suffer even though I’ve been racing for years.There are other times when it seems clearer now to throw in the towel rather than take the big risk for little reward. That’s a big step for me and I guess part of it comes from becoming strong enough to know that I can do whatever I want if I so choose. And that in some cases it’s ok to choose to wait for another day.

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