Multiple Mental Challenges

# 1 : Jerome’s Hill

An interesting day today. I started to ride out early in the morning as I had to be back home by noon. With only 4 – 5 hours riding time available, I thought it would be nice to revisit Jerome Hill. I haven’t been there for a while, felt strong and thought that I might finally top Tom’s 2007 record.

The pace along the Tamagawa was fast, constantly in the 34 – 36 km/hr range. Another rider tried to stay in my draft for quite a long while but in the end I was able to get rid of him. It is rare indeed that somebody even tries. I think I know now very corner along the Tamagawa. Before coming to Mutsumibashi I crossed the river and rode along Charles country road, a very short shortcut but still somehow one of my favourite shortcuts. I don’t know why, but every time I ride there I hear the sound of helicopters crusing above my ahead. I feel paranoid.

After Itsukaichi I proceeded slowly, trying to preserve all power for Jerome’s hill. Then the explosion, start, accelerating at the first flat part to 40 km/hr plus. At least for the first two minutes I could stay above the 30 km/hr threshold. Another two minutes above 25 km/hr and still below 170 bpm heartrate. The slope continues to become steeper, I went down in speed. Then as usual the point is reach where I have no sprinting power left and I want to give up. I try to stay in a slower, steady pace for 30 seconds than accelerate again. Now I see that I am already at the last bend. I look at the watch, it looks OK, I can still make it, so I give everything, my heartrate goes up to a maximum of 177 and just before running completely out of steam I reach the top: 7:59 min, an excellent time for me, in particular this early in the season. One year ago I was hovering in the ten minutes range.

I spend three minutes on the top trying to get my breathing rhythm in order and my pulse down. Within two minutes my pulse is at 110, I can breath again and I start the decent. I feel good, the road is dry and in good shape and I reach 69.7 km/hr speed. Wow, that’s fun. But despite all this wonderful fast runs I still run the risk of coming home late. So I ride home very, very fast, there is no better motivation than remorse. In particular if I promised something to my son or daughter. On the Tamagawa a rider in an old Lampre fit overtakes me with 40 km/hr plus. I hang on but cannot for long, than I notice that his speed is dropping as well. So I overtake him, he overtakes me, than I overtake him again for the last time. He is giving up.

Through the hills of Yokohama and back home after 117km in 4:27hr with 26.0 km/hr average speed, inclusive all breaks. Nice fast one.

# 2 Figure Skating Exhibition

I guess that figure skating is a sport about which you will not find too many entries on this blog.
However, for my family it is the most important sport, even more important than cycling (me), soccer (my son) and table tennis (my son and me). This is because my daughter goes to figure skate training every single day in order to fulfil the lifelong wish of her mother, that one day she will represent Japan at the Olympics or World championships. In case Japan doesn’t work out and with double citizenship in the backhand, we can still give it another shot in Germany. Which is way easier.
My daughter spends more hours per day on ice than I do on my bike.

On Saturday there was an exhibition show at her club’s skate rink in Shin-Yokohama [Prince] and training was intensified in the days before. Our house was pure panic the last days before. My son and me got somehow neglected, we had to manage food, clothing, tidy-up all by ourselves.

Then on Saturday, after riding out to Jerome’s hill we took the subway to the skate rink and watched the exhibition. Figure skating and cycling have some things in common I noticed :

1. Spandex: but at least cyclist wear black, whereas female skaters wear this flesh-colored things that look like compression bandages in home for the elderly.

2. Otherwise generally terrible clothes. Really, there is not much difference in designs. At least in figure skating there are no brands patched all over the jerseys.

3. Absence of good looking females. Yes, a sad but true fact in both sports. You can see better looking mothers in front of the child care center of IKEA Kohoku.

I think that I am pretty versed in figure skating by now; a result of watching countless events with my wife in 16 years of marriage on TV (I mean the events were on TV, not 16 years of marriage). My favourite figure skater is still Oksana Baiul who had a wonderful, eccentric expression just like a princess from czarist Russia and was obviously one step over the edge. I am not thinking too highly of the Japanese skaters (Asada Mao, Miki Ando, Shizuka Arakawa etc.), but I prefer the Russians. From a technical point of view they might not be able to do all the fourtimes jumps, but they have a better, stylish, more polished performance and simply more aura. US skaters are technically very well but do not have to offer much else. With the exception of Tonya Harding for other reasons albeit.

Nevertheless watching hundreds of skaters in solo and group performances in about three hours is a challenge on its own. After having seen so may top athletes it is quite interesting to see so many different levels in performance, from top-notch (Nakano Yukari) to beginners. One begins to appreciate more and more the finer details and starts to understand that not every figure is easy to perform and always perfect. There are two major differences between pros and beginners: One is of course speed, moving from one figure to another, preparing for jumps. The other one is body tension. Yukari Nagano was like a tensioned bow, or a catapult. Amazing. The third one is style and rhythm.

Nevertheless it is a real mental challenge for me to watch for three hours.

# 3 Writing a German Essay with my son

His German teacher chose „An eerie meeting in the woods“ and my son had started his essay already in school with the description of a group of giant ants, breaking free from the ground and sucking in a group of hunters with their vacuum cleaner like giant beaks. I had the unthankful task to help my son writing the end to this essay in a form somehow acceptable for his German teacher. As the story was already going very much in a direction of more and more violence and I didn’t felt that I could change that without being immediately discovered as my sons secret helper, I tried to polish his writing style and grammar as good as I could. As a result a lot of blood has been sprayed in the forest. But at least in style.

A very special challenge.

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