The taper.

Why is poop tapered at the ends? So your butt doesn’t slam shut! Thus begins my forced taper, the final week before my race where the most important thing I can do is rest, eat, and cut down the aggressiveness of my training by considerable chunks. No more long rides, no more monster bricks. Just smooth spinning, light runs, and easy swims. Just endless hours of thinking ‘WHAT THE HELL HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!”

There’s still a feeling of being horribly underprepared. Six months of training six days a week has radically changed my endurance, speed, and overall ability. Friends have been incredibly encouraging. Even fellow triathletes have said I’ll do fine. And yet I can’t get rid of the fear. This, of course, is why I do these things. I sign up for races to motivate me to put in the training. I put in the training because I know that persistent hard work has reward. I do persistent hard work in all parts of my life, and triathlon is second only to my relationship in consistent reward for positive effort. I love the sport because it’s given me the sense of victory, completion, and achievement I haven’t gotten from my other jobs in a long time. It is therefore highly addictive. Tapering, though necessary, is also agony. All that energy that’s been built up is going to vibrate inside me like a clown’s checked luggage. I should be a real treat to be around by Tuesday.

Thankfully I had a great ride this morning, a farewell to bikes of sorts. After putting in some good, fast miles I dropped off the bike to have aero bars put on and my bar tape replaced. To have aero bars installed I’ll need to replace my handlebars. That was expected – I used to have aero bars many months ago and when my fitter put them on he said that they could only go in one place because of a tapering of the bar near the stem. (A road bike’s handlebars sit perpendicular to the stem connecting them to bike. My current handlebars have a feminine taper just outside the stem, possibly to attach a flower basket, lamp, or rotary machine gun.) Because the new aero bars are fixed width I had to replace the handlebar. A future Friday article will be all about aero bars on road bikes vs. triathlon bikes. But in short, aero bars on a road bike are like fake breasts on a tranny. A mimic of the real thing, but it’s gonna be rougher than you expect and there’s a big surprise waiting down the road when you start to get serious about going for a ride. For now I just need another position while I put in the long, straight miles in the Idaho desert. There is one rule all endurance athletes abide by: NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. This is why changing my nutrition plan two weeks before the race was risky if it didn’t work. I’ve used aero bars before and removed them because they blocked my handlebar’s horizontal hand position. The new aero bars I bought have flip-up arm rests so I can use the horizontal flats, over the shifter hoods, down in the drops (the lowest part of the handlebar curve), or the new aero position.

I was discussing this with Scott over at Triathlete Zombies, and I said that I’d make do with the aero bars because a $7,000 bike wasn’t in the budget this decade. Imagine my shock and awe when he said that I didn’t have to spend $7K on a bike to get a carbon fiber tri bike with good components. He then gestured to a $2700 Felt beauty that took my breath away. Shit. I’ve got $2700 of room on a credit card… No! It’s not the bike. It’s the rider. And if I want to get faster, as a friend was told by Floyd Landis, “pedal harder”.

My bike now has a name which I will debut here once I pick it up Tuesday and take some photos. With luck I’ll find a printer who makes vinyl cutout letters and I’ll print it in big, intimidating letters across the top tube. If I ever upgrade to a fancy Canadian or Italian bike I can bring the name with me and it sounds just as mean in those languages, too. Stay tuned.

Notes: 17 miles, 1hr, smooth and steady cadence. Decided to break up the boredom of the race by memorizing Stan Roger’s “Barrett’s Privateers”, which for a sea shanty also has a perfect cycling rhythm. If you see me on the road sometime, sing with me:

Oh, the year was 1778, 

( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 

A letter of mark came from the King 
To the scummiest vessel I’d ever seen. 

God damn them all! 
I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold. 
We’d fire no guns, shed no tears.
I’m a broken man on a Halifax Pier, 
The last of Barrett’s Privateers. 

Well, Elcid Barrett cried the town 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
For twenty brave men all fisherman who 
Would make for him the “Antelope’s” crew 


The “Antelopes” sloop was a sickening sight 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
She had a list to the port and her sails in rags 
And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers and jags 


On the king’s birthday we put to sea 
(“How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
It was ninety one days to Montigo Bay 
Pumping like madmen all the way 


On the ninety sixth day we sailed again 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
When a bloody great Yankee hove in sight 
With our cracked four-pounders we made to fight. 


The Yankee lay low down with gold 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
She was broad and fat and loose in stays 
But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days. 


Then at length we stood two cables away 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
Our cracked four-pounders made an awful din 
But with one fat ball the Yank stove us in 


The Antelope shook and pitched on her side 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
Well Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs 
And the Maintruck carried off both me legs. 


So here I sit in my twenty-third year 
( “How I wish I was in Sherbrook now!”) 
It’s been six years since I sailed away 
And I just made Halifax yesterday 



4 responses to “The taper.

  1. The image of you cycling like mad while singing a sea-shanty is simply… precious.

  2. Rosemarie says : I absolutely agree with this !

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Zwinglian!

  4. haha, somehow i missed this post when i started reading your blog and (thought i) started at the beginning.

    that’s one of my songs-that-gets-stuck-in-my-head-when-i-have-to-do-repetitive-things.

    i LOVE barrett’s privateers.

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