Tales from the Tarmac is the weekly home of the stories, insights, opinions and occasional rants of Art’s Web Content Editor, Kevin Rouse. Read at your own risk, and please don’t ever take him seriously—it might just go to his head.
“The snow was driving so hard into our faces, on a crosswind, that we had to protect our eyes with one hand. We needed ski goggles. I couldn’t see a thing.” – Bernard Hinault, in reference to his win at the 1980 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
There comes a time when a questionable decision becomes a bad decision, which, at a certain point, then has the capability to morph into a terrible decision, which, ultimately, you have no decision but to say yes.
Why must you say yes? Well the answer is really quite simple—because you can.
Not following? Here’s a not-so-hypothetical example I experienced this weekend: Why ride 130 miles in the rain with a stiff headwind? To that I answer, ‘why not?’
For instance, the above quote, along with the fact that Hinault went on to not only finish said race (over half of the starting riders dropped out within the first hour), but win it, goes a long way towards validating his nickname of The Badger. The moral of that story though: miserable experiences can pay big dividends.
Sure, that’s not the most solid reason to embark on a miserable experience—or even a smart one, but us cyclists aren’t always predisposed to rational thinking anyways.
While our 130-mile ride this weekend, despite the wind, rain, and bouts of borderline hypothermia, was certainly not the 1980 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege—and I am by no means Bernard Hinault, I can’t help but feel a certain kinship. At its heart, cycling attracts a certain type of individual—regardless of ability—that is in some way inclined towards some unhealthy measure of unpleasantness.
You see, what’s not to love about a long hard day in the saddle with a few close buddies? There are so many things to look forward to:
- Saddle Sores
- Severely strained friendships
- Blinking road grime out of your eyes for days
- Sore Back
- Aching Neck
- The inability to walk down stairs normally for several days
In all seriousness though, there’s something to be said for the edification instilled by an all-day Sufferfest (yes, with a capital S). Our ride was no walk in the park, but I wouldn’t have rather done anything else that not-so-fine-Saturday.
Anyone who’s shared the experience of falling into a chair at the end of a ride in complete exhaustion, yet in a state of complete euphoria (deliriousness?), knows the value in such an act. Sure, it may not seem like the smartest thing on paper, but paper is a waste of a perfectly good tree. If you haven’t shared in that experience, I highly recommend it. Embrace your inner crazy (stupidity?); you’re not likely to regret—or forget—it.
And, without further adieu, in proper form, raise a glass, or bidon rather, to the Sufferfest. May the long road forever be miserable, plentiful, and absolutely, altogether rewarding.