‘…he moves like an engine and the ground shrinks before his treading…’
A couple of weeks ago I picked up on a link from my Twitter feed. It was a blog on cycling and the intriguing title was Reframing Pain. The article was definitely one for the winter; confronting thresholds on your turbo.
Like so much to do with suffering on the bike the article eventually explored the mental aspect to training. This combination of discipline in training and the mental attitude really is a conundrum for all roadies. Does one generate the other? Is it possible to train relentlessly to exhaustion and still lack confidence? Are the mental and physical aspects of training actually separate?
This aside the article quoted a rider called John Stamstad….who?
I’d never heard of this cyclist, mainly I think because he was not a Pro tour rider and more a MBK endurance athlete. However the more I read about him the further my jaw dropped. Here’s some facts and stats about the legend from the lonerider.com site
- in a 100-mile race in Pennsylvania he broke his collarbone after 20 miles but continued on to win and set a course record.
- he takes off on 120-mile rides with only a quarter for an emergency phone call
- he became the first rider ever to solo the 24 Hours of Canaan, besting half of the 380 five-person teams
- he’s won the Iditabike, a 160-mile midwinter race across the Alaskan tundra in the last four years
- he won the Iditasport Extreme, a 350-mile race from Anchorage to McGrath, Alaska. His strategy? Ride 65 hours straight (read: no sleep in sub-zero weather), which won him the race, beat the course record by two days, and his closest competitors by 12 hours.
- he suffered a first-lap crash that left him with a compressed neck vertebra in the 24 Hours of Canaan but continued to finish the race without being able to move his head
- he knows he’s mentally ready for a race when he can do a five-hour stint on the wind trainer, maintaining a heart rate of 155 beats per minute while staring at a blank wall
- to avoid bonking on his Great Divide ride (2,466 mostly dirt-road miles and climbing perhaps 200,000 vertical feet), he chugged pure canola oil until he could get to the next rural gas station and refuel with Spam, cakes, and a 1-pound block of cheese.
If only one of these stats is true then this man is a God! The most impressive? Are you kidding me…ride 65 hours straight!!! Did I read that correctly..ride for nearly 3 days?
His turbo sessions are something else – 5 hours at 155 bpm. And this Iditasport extreme race sounds incredible. Like a lot of boys in our club I’m a keen endurance rider but this is higher level. It’s not so much Iron man as the Kryptonite Kid!
So what does a man like Stanstad who has spent a lifetime with suffering as his bedfellow, have to say to us mortals about thresholds and the lactic attack?
‘Pain is a positive thing in my training. The worst thing to do is get emotional about your pain, because that heightens your sensations. Take it as a signal from your nervous system that you’re working hard. And when you work hard, you do well.’
Ah so that’s a truth that’s helpful for us cyclists. Listen to your pain and threshold suffering like a friend.
Back to the turbo then and when I sense the lactic creep I’ll keep turning those legs but I’ll be thinking too. Entries for the 24 Hours of Canaan anyone?