“Hey Jim, you want one of these cookies?” says Ted King. “One is chocolate chip and the other is one of those fruit, nut, and chocolate things.”
What Ted doesn’t know this morning, as he tries to ply me with his cookie bounty, is sometime in the next hour he will go from being Ted King, my famous former cycling pro deskmate, gravel-grinding superstar, product tester, and all around good guy, to “Coach Ted” — explaining what I need to know about my diet, questioning my level of commitment, and describing VO2 max.
I’m about to ask him to be my coach because … I need help.
You see I had some health issues earlier this year, which you can read about here, and I desperately need to get my weight back under control and my fitness back on track.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing remarkably well considering my situation. I recently returned from a month in Europe where I did some pretty epic climbs in the Dolomites and I even dragged my tired ol’ ass up Mont Ventoux for a 14 mile jaunt, climbing over 5200 feet of vertical. It was a spectacular trip with some amazing people, but it was not what you would call easy. I was the slowest peddler on every climb and spent more time in the follow car than I would have liked.
But that is not my real problem, my real problem is Mark.
Just a little over a year ago my friend Mark got bit by the bike bug and it bit him bad. He has dropped a mind-boggling amount of weight, turned his garage into a Bat Cave for bicycle nerds, filling it with Pinarello bicycles and all manner of bicicletta toys.
Mark wants us to ride together.
And Mark is training. Training like an athlete. Training like he means it. He has power meters and heart-rate monitors and computer applications to help him track, parse, and ponder his every pedal stroke.
Mark is driving me crazy. He has plans. Rides he wants to ride. Times he wants to hit. Power numbers he needs to reach. VO2 max tests to take. Power threshold things he wants to improve. And he has a coach.
A coach. A fucking coach.
He has someone to help set up a training program. Someone to vent to and celebrate with. Someone to hold him accountable and to help him turn-it-up, turn-it-down, or turn-it-off based on actual facts garnered from the data.
Me? I got no data, no power meter, and definitely no coach. The only plan I have had is to whoop his ass up the next hill and pimp him at the town-line sprint.
Well, that was until this morning. Now I got a plan and … a coach. Coach King.
Fear of Commitment
I was going to use Mark’s coach, but realized, I have a coach sitting right next to me! I thought to myself, Ted has some decent Palmarès, having spent nearly a decade in the ProTour, and he seems oddly willing to step into the role.
“Are you going to be serious about this?” said Coach King. This was the gist of our initial Coach/Student interview process.
My reputation of being less-than-serious about my training, bike riding, and life in general, seems to have made on impression on Mr. King. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t wasting his time.
Honestly, I have my own doubts about my commitment.
I think this might be why I haven’t had a coach up until now. The commitment. The overseeing eye. The overarching disappointment as I fail to reach any semblance of success. Plus, all the math.
Coach King starts talking about 4x5s and 3×1.5s and anaerobic threshold percentages and I flash straight back to 8th grade math class and the tears start to well up in my eyes. But then, Mark’s voice begins to echo in my head, “Come on Jim, when else are you going to do this?” and then, I decide … I’m in.
I will share my training plan, the inevitable defeats and the glorious victories in the coming weeks, but for now, I will leave you with this little gem from the initial exchange with my new coach.
“Eating donuts is fun,” said Coach King. “So is eating carrots.”