Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life turns around!

What a great idea... application could use some work. The iphone really has nothing to do with this, but it's a nice idea...  just, don't think you wanna go around biking monocularly.

There are now bike targeted gps systems too...

I've been holding out.

Great article (from Jeremy) about endurance, psychology, biking, and the inner oyster!

Great article (from Jeremy) about endurance, psychology, biking, and the inner oyster!

In a consideration of Robic, three facts are clear: he is nearly indefatigable, he is occasionally nuts, and the first two facts are somehow connected. The question is, How? Does he lose sanity because he pushes himself too far, or does he push himself too far because he loses sanity? Robic is the latest and perhaps most intriguing embodiment of the old questions: What happens when the human body is pushed to the limits of its endurance? Where does the breaking point lie? And what happens when you cross the line?

The craziness is methodical, however, and Robic and his crew know its pattern by heart. Around Day 2 of a typical weeklong race, his speech goes staccato. By Day 3, he is belligerent and sometimes paranoid. His short-term memory vanishes, and he weeps uncontrollably. The last days are marked by hallucinations: bears, wolves and aliens prowl the roadside; asphalt cracks rearrange themselves into coded messages. Occasionally, Robic leaps from his bike to square off with shadowy figures that turn out to be mailboxes. In a 2004 race, he turned to see himself pursued by a howling band of black-bearded men on horseback.

‘‘Mujahedeen, shooting at me,’’ he explains. ‘‘So I ride faster.’’


In all decisions, Stanovnik governs according to a rule of thumb that he has developed over the years: at the dark moment when Robic feels utterly exhausted, when he is so empty and sleep-deprived that he feels as if he might literally die on the bike, he actually has 50 percent more energy to give.


In 1999, three physiologists from the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa took the next step. They worked a group of cyclists to exhaustion during a 62-mile laboratory ride and measured, via electrodes, the percentage of leg muscles they were using at the fatigue limit. If standard theories were true, they reasoned, the body should recruit more muscle fibers as it approached exhaustion — a natural compensation for tired, weakening muscles.

Instead, the researchers observed the opposite result. As the riders approached complete fatigue, the percentage of active muscle fibers decreased, until they were using only about 30 percent. Even as the athletes felt they were giving their all, the reality was that more of their muscles were at rest. Was the brain purposely holding back the body?

‘‘It was as if the brain was playing a trick on the body, to save it,’’ says Timothy Noakes, head of the Cape Town group. ‘‘Which makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. In fatigue, it only feels like we’re going to die. The actual physiological risks that fatigue represents are essentially trivial.’’


‘‘I find motivation everywhere,’’ Robic says. ‘‘If right now you look at me and wonder if I cannot go up the mountain, even if you are joking, I will do it. Then I will do it again, and maybe again.’’ He gestures to Mount Stol, a snowy Goliath crouched 7,300 feet above him, as remote as the moon. ‘‘Three years ago, I got angry at the mountain. I climbed it 38 times in two months.’’