Imagine you want to improve your golf game and Phil Mickelson agrees to evaluate your swing. Or you get to play a little one-on-one with Kobe Bryant so he can check out your game.
In theory, exciting.
In practice, incredibly intimidating.
To launch your insecurity meter to an all-time high, just have a world class athlete critique your performance in their sport. Your self-esteem will never sink so low.
Gap Analysis, Cycling Style
My first step on the path to completing the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo involved taking a ride with my coach, pro mountain bike racer Jeremiah Bishop, so he could evaluate my fitness and form.
Within five minutes I learned a number of things:
- I favor my right leg. In a big way. Jeremiah had me pedal one-legged, and while relatively smooth using my right leg, calling my left leg awkward and gangly does a disservice to baby deer.
- I lean too far forward when I stand out of the saddle. Why? It's what I've always done. Not efficient, but comfortable. So then...
- I learned, "What you like to do is irrelevant if you plan to make the last climb up the back side of Reddish Knob." Well, there is that.
- My pedaling cadence is too low, especially on climbs. Somewhere along the way I decided grinding away at a big gear was the macho way to climb. Like everything else of the macho variety, it's also the worst way to climb, at least for me.
- I need to eat while I ride, preferably every thirty minutes. Energy is everything. I get that. But eating while riding is something I'll have to learn to love. (You try swallowing between gasps for air. It's a real treat.)
My vision tunneled and I got that sick, fuzzy, "I'm about to faint and I'm fine with that because laying on the ground seems really appealing right now" feeling, and fatigue made a coward out of me, as fatigue loves to do... so I stopped about 30 feet from the top.
At that moment I was in possession of three additional facts:
- Having a superstar for a coach also means your coach is a (darned) superstar,
- When your coach is speaking he might be narrating the video he's taking of your near-death experience, and
- I kinda hate Jeremiah Bishop, but only in the nicest possible way.
Since every good gap analysis starts by determining the current state, here is my starting point.
On the plus side:
- I'm 6' tall and weigh 160 pounds, so I don't need to lose weight. (Jeremiah feels actually keeping weight on will be a challenge for me, since some training rides will literally burn thousands of calories, especially as I get closer to Gran Fondo day.)
- My resting heart rate is 58 beats/minute, my blood pressure is 120/80, and my LDL cholesterol is around 160. All good.
- The size of the BNET readership means the pressure is significant. If I fail, I fail publicly. Good motivation.
- Worse, if I fail I will feel I failed Jeremiah. Great motivation.
- I'm out of shape.
- I have legs only a flamingo could love (while strikingly sexy on a flamingo, skinny legs are less than optimal for generating power.)
- Finding time to train will be a major challenge.
- I'm 51-gosh-darn-years-old.
- I only have three months.