A couple of years ago, I had my first - and hopefully, last - whirlwind romance. It was one of those bad choices you regret making later, and try to justify to yourself by blaming an ego that had gotten owned by a recent break up, right around the time Mr. Whirlwind-So-Not-Right came spinning along. It only lasted a few months, during which I saved a pile of money with plans to visit him for an unreasonably long period of time. Our plans of happily ever after fell through after a few weeks of daily vapid fights that included [hilarious in hindsight] accusations of gold-digger-ism [me: "but...you make $30k..."], and claims that I'd gone to law school to find a rich husband [me: "...but...but then why would I take two bar exams...?"].
That February, when I was supposed to be in love and stateside, I was in Tokyo, scrolling through Twitter. I met Tim Johnson and Chandler a couple of weeks later, and things haven't been quite the same, since.
Seven months later, I did go to Boston and NYC. I brought that pile of saved up, fuck you, break up money with me, and sunk it into a compact Quarq CinQo with 165mm Rotor cranks. A good friend introduced me to a guy, too, and we've been going strong for the past year. I call those two the best investments I've ever made.
Oh, and his name? Mike Sherry. Of Bikeriders. Or, as I like to boast, The Guy that Picked Up My FTP and Pulled It Up 15%. And, also, The Guy that Puts Up with My BS and Meltdowns. But more simply, just "Coach."
I finally got to meet Mike, in person, while I was in NYC [the introduction was remote and we've been working together via e-mails and TrainingPeaks since last year], in the new Bikeriders space. It's not finished yet, but it looks pretty baller. Oh, and did I mention they have a Bikeriders-branded Sprinter?
I'm not only gushing praises because Mike bought me coffee or sat me down to talk about my training. The latter actually made me slightly uncomfortable, like in the way talking to my gynecologist can be a little weird. Except this felt more intimate. I don't care about my cervix as much as I do my w/kg ratio, and this guy knows everything.
By everything, I mean every pedal-stroke, heart beat, and gradient climbed. My shitty rides, my good ones, and how to make
me my legs cry. It's almost unnerving how my scheduled workouts will hit the exact watt range to have me toeing the line but never quite going over it. How I'll wobble to work, but still recover for whatever's scheduled the next day.
Weak legs aside, it's been a somewhat uncomfortable ride for another reason.
As a commitment-phobe prone to bolting at the first sign of interest lasting longer than 48 hours, Mike's near-clairvoyance can be unsettling. There is blind faith and trust implicit in any relationship with a stranger, but this becomes more acute when that stranger is labeled a coach, and morphs into someone who encourages testing your pain threshold and oxygen deprivation limits on a near-daily basis. It gets creepier when you take into consideration the fact that I'm paying him to do this to me. And that I totally enjoy it.
Despite my masochist tendencies, the enjoyment I derive from training isn't due to Mike yelling at me or otherwise advising me to shut up and deal with it. He's never done either, opting instead to listen patiently to my occasional psychotic meltdowns and complaints via email. I like the daily pushing and pulling of my limits, and the pain that can linger through the workday not only because it gets me riding regularly and holds me accountable to someone, but because it's effecient, effective, and easy. All I have to do is follow Mike's instructions, upload my power file, and let him deal with whatever's going on with my legs, lungs and heart. Meanwhile, I selfishly get to put a check mark next to the most important thing on my to do list ["ride"],
do feel like I'm doing some diet damage control, and get on with my day. Which is to say that I'm paying for his time, but I'm also paying to free up a lot of mine.
It's been a win-win situation so far, even with my lack of wins/racing/accomplishments. I came back to Tokyo to find a week's worth of training rides planned out on my TrainingPeaks account, and had to smile. As much as I loved the easy cruising around Prospect Park, it was time to get back to work. I turned on my fan, clipped in, and warmed up for the kind of whirlwind fun that's totally worth repeating.