2017 Cycling Big Year: Broken

Beginner’s practice session today for next year’s Big Year. A vaguely okay pace over an hour, then . . . crash. Broken helmet, grazed knees (for the third time this year!), possible pulled muscles . . . and, worst of all, a chastened ego.

Daniel Pink interviews Anders Ericsson

If you’ve read Anders Ericsson’s “Peak” and not experienced some puzzlement on exactly how to “get better by practice,” I don’t think you’re reading carefully. There is something subtle about what Ericsson prescribes. This Heleo interview by Daniel Pink, himself a thinker on this topic – “Daniel Pink and Anders Ericsson: The Secrets of Top Performers and What It Takes to Be Truly Great” – provides some light.

First, you need to note this: “The advantage in some domains is really striking. In downhill skiing, if you haven’t started by age seven, there’s no example of somebody who’s made it into the international top hundred.”

Then: “Deliberate practice is when you have a one-on-one teaching situation with a coach or music teacher—that teacher can assess where you are and what things can help you improve. Here are the training activities that you can be doing by yourself for ten to twenty hours in the week until you see the music teacher again. You can see how somebody’s performance changes. Two weeks ago they couldn’t do this, but now they can. This gradually builds up, and eventually, with the right teacher, allows you to reach very high levels of performance.”

Very few of us will sign onto this kind of regime.

Jogging Big Year: Count down the endgame

Is there any hobby so low cost and adaptable? Shoes, socks, keys, iPhone (for Strava), a Ziplock in case of rain, cheap tee shirt and shorts . . . I’m at 1,400 kms, 300 kms to go. Minor foot niggles have abated. Some days feel rough, others almost routine. All I need be is steadfast.

Writer’s Big Year: Satire?

I missed this season of 10 Gladwell podcasts, Revisionist History. Number 10, The Satire Paradox, fascinates from a writer’s perspective. Essentially he observes that the best, most savage satires appeal to both the target audience (who appreciate the sharp, righteous irony) and the attacked “enemy” (who see what they want to see). A case of “motivated cognition,” an academic interviewee finds. Colbert attacks Palin and it’s wonderful and it works, but Palin supporters love it also! No viewpoints are altered. Memo to self: satire is a dangerous genre. Go serious. Always. (Maybe?)

2017 Cycling Big Year: Practice time!

Nerves . . . how do I get to nine hours of cycling every week, beginning Monday, January 2, 2017, from a base of childlike ineptitude? I’m keen to ramp up my current casual cycling to something within cooee of nine hours, but in the meantime I need to jog four times a week (plus gym, plus stretching, plus the most intense activity of all, the writing).

All I can do is allocate time, using common sense, and ratchet up the activity gradually. Two hours a week at the moment . . . let’s aim for three, four, then five, then six, hours over the month of December. Such fun!

The unossified mind

Why is everyone around me so definitive? So cast-iron certain. I guess it’s the human way, especially for the middle-aged, to assert: me, I know!

You don’t. I don’t. If our dominant story is “here’s how one does it,” we’ve lost our way, vanished into a retirement haze.

Writing Big Year: Why can’t data stop coming in?

South Africa cheated, pretending to embrace the peaceful atom while building nuclear bombs. It recanted and binned its bombs. The South African tale belongs to my book and I’ve researched it to death, in fact I need do no more. At least that’s what I thought until I spied a brand new book, “Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program.” David Albright is one of the world’s experts on proliferation, so after sighing and whispering “damn,” I chucked the new data onto the Kindle.

Notion for a novel

Does a notion get under your skin? I’d read Mantel’s 2 books, then watched the first episode of this Wolf Hall miniseries . . . too busy, fuggedabout it . . . But no, here’s the notion that compels: Cromwell is the moral f***ker, the frighteningly effective and frightening human operator who, underneath it all, retains a hidden code of morality. You all know someone like that. You want them on your side. I tell you, I’d love to write a novel featuring a “climate change Cromwell.” So onwards, let’s watch the remaining five episodes.

Decision time: 2017 Cycling Big Year

Let’s gamble on a big change, a Cycling Big Year. From January 1, 2017, until December 31, I shall:

  • Cycle each and every day
  • Commit five days of each week to at least one hour, plus two days at two hours minimum
  • Aim over the entire year to clock up 8,000 kms
  • Convert 45 weeks (i.e. 52 weeks less travel/hiking outages) into that 8,000 kms by roughly targeting 180 kms per week