Daniela Ryf’s Secret Weapon

No one can beat Daniela Ryf, Switzerland’s long distance triathlon queen.

Once again, many tried on Sunday in Kona, Hawaii. The race consists of three legs, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Or for my metric friends—4k, 180k, 42k.

Ryf, winner of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions of the championship, was the indisputable favorite. Last year’s runner up, 25 year old Lucy Charles from Britain, was promising to hang with Ryf.

Never mind the 5-6 months of dedicated training for race day, a few minutes after dawn and minutes before the race start, Ryf was stung by jelly fish in both arms while warming up near Kailua Pier. Which brings to mind Mike Tyson’s quote, “Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.” Ryf had a plan until stung in both arms.

In considerable pain, Ryf decided to try swimming. An athletic marvel, in the following interview, at the 2+ minute mark, Ryf reveals her true secret power—extreme mental toughness. “Maybe in five hours,” she says, “I’ll be feeling fine.” Most of us are doing well when we walk for 30 minutes, run for 45, swim for 60, or cycle for 90. Imagine thinking, “Maybe in five hours I’ll be fine.”

Although a few male pros were hospitalized after being stung pre-race, Ryf knew there was a chance the pain would dissipate. Her mental toughness coupled with her confidence in her training was more than enough.

Long story short, she finished the swim 9 minutes behind Charles, which many thought was an insurmountable gap. Four hours later, and five into the race, she passed Charles near the end of the bike and crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of her in a course record 8:26:16, 20 minutes faster than her 2016 course record.

Like Ryf, when we’re in pain—whether physical, mental, or emotional, how can we envision a brighter future? How can we learn to think that “Maybe in five days, weeks, months, or years, we’ll be fine?”

Mexico’s Next President?

Looks like it’s going to be ALMO, but maybe it should be Ana Puga given her fearlessness.

As a cyclist who cut his teeth in Los Angeles, I am comfortable in traffic, but this tour around Mexico City begs the question, can one be too comfortable in traffic? Without a doubt. Still, this is so BADASS on many levels, including her flat out speed, I can’t help but embrace it.

Mexico City like you’ve never seen it.

Monday Assorted Links

1. I need another bike.

2. Swedish researchers say commute long distances for work at your and your partner’s own risk.

3. What does stand up comedy really pay? Brutal way to not make a living.

4. Those of you who are like me, meaning people with extensive life experience, get with the program—privacy is dead. As proof, dig The Verge’s “What’s in Your Bag” feature. Someday, maybe, they’ll get around to famous bloggers and ask me what’s in my bag. Because I know you’re dying to know.

5. The Asian-Immigrant experience.

How Finland Gets People Biking Through Winter

This may not be a NEWS ALERT, but I’ve gone super soft.

When I lived in Norway for a few winter months, I commuted to the University everyday on a mountain bike. At times, like skiing in fresh powder, I had a lot of fun making virgin tracks in 10-15cm of snow on a dedicated bike path. Everyone says I have amazing bike handling skills. And they’re right.

Fast forward a decade and I spend the winter spinning easily indoors while watching Frontline documentaries.

I need a kick in the ass or a ticket to Oulu, Finland. Or both. Here’s how Oulu, Finland gets 27% of it’s population to cycle to and from work all brutal winter long.

I think Dan, Dan, Washington State’s Transpo man should accompany me on my trip to Oulu. He has so much to learn.

“Oulu’s bike lanes are the result of decades of municipal leadership. The city’s first cycling plan was developed in 1969. . . . It was understood early that walking and cycling [have] to be treated as equal modes of transportation.

In this context, winter maintenance of bike routes is a natural extension of investments in cycling infrastructure. . . . .Keeping cycling routes open year-round was there from the beginning. Citizens never had to fight for it. . . . It was very much a civil servant-driven process.

The local government continues to prioritize active transportation, especially when the temperatures drop. Starting in October, Oulu is launching a new level of ‘super’ maintenance for cycling infrastructure during the winter months. Essentially, 15 per cent of the network, or about 150 kilometeres, will be maintained 24 hours a day.”

Given his Midwestern mix of charisma and charm, I’m sure Dan, Dan, WaState’s Transpo man can convince MC and everyone else in Washington to pay more in taxes to replicate Oulu’s commitment to cycling infrastructure including a nice cushion for winter maintenance.

At which point I won’t have any excuses for being a full-fledged winter weather wuss.

Bonus vid.

 

 

 

Hire Me

Dear World Pro Cycling Teams:

I appreciate the opportunity to apply for your position as Performance Enhancing Drugs Wordsmith.

Let’s review where we are. Today’s news that the world’s best cyclist in a routine anti-doping test conducted at the Vuelta a España in September had double the legal limit of 1,000ng/ml of his asthma medication floating around his system, led Chris Froome to say this in his defense:

“My asthma got worse at the Vuelta so I followed the team doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage.  As always, I took the greatest care to ensure that I did not use more than the permissible dose”. 

It’s imperative your riders mount a more credible defense than Froomey when their time in the performance enhancing drug spotlight inevitably comes. That’s where I’m confident you’ll find my services are a bargain at $50,000 per incident.

Every failed test is a little different requiring a true craftsman who can contextualize in a heartbeat. Here’s a little flavor flav of possible talking points for your team’s next PED presser. The first I call the “deflection”, which you’ll find far more subtle than the second, “faux confessional”.

•  “Like climate change, these results are more fake science compliments of a vast left-wing conspiracy. Over the millennia, there have always been abnormal tests results like these just as there have always been changing weather patterns. Noam Chomsky and my other accusers are sad (sick) guys. Maybe my critic-crybabies should train harder.”

•  “The reports of my failed drug test are true. Regretfully, starting several years ago, I succumbed to the drug-addled culture of the peloton and the pressure of my team’s docs to conform. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the vapidity of my “means justifies the ends” morality. Once I got accustomed to riding in the front of the peloton, I couldn’t help myself. I am not proud of my actions and I am sorry to have perpetuated a hoax on cycling fans the world over. I plan on taking extensive time off the bike to make amends to all of my sponsors, teammates, and fans.  [Long pause followed by bursts of laughter.] Kidding of course. Fuck you guys and your fake science. Maybe my critic-crybabies should improve their drug regimens.”

Similarly, I have a bevy of “hidden motor” responses in the quiver too. I look forward to hearing from. You can reach me at PedWordsmith@gmail.com.