read any contemporary training manual and somewhere in the confusing plethora of words entreating you to maximise your potential, will be a chapter discussing the art of rest. i'd be willing to bet that a sizeable percentage of bike riders tend to skip that chapter and move onto the one about how many calories can be scoffed after the average training ride. let's face it, in the world of semi-competitive bike riding, we're just not good at resting.
which of us has spent an idyllic sunday afternoon lazing on the sitting room sofa, sleeping all the way through every episode of 'real housewives of atlanta', only to rise at tea-time claiming a powerful feeling of athleticism surging through those rested muscles? i guess not.
the trouble with serious rest, the sort of thing that has to be timetabled and dwelt upon with every ounce of concentration that can be mustered after finishing the final article in the last issue of rouleur, is that it amounts to a whole lot of nothing. and while we're enduring this monumental nothing, there's the distinct impression that we're not really doing very much. which, of course, we're not.
the explanation as to why rest is a necessary part of any training programme, though perfectly rational, still seems like the first reading of christmas humphrey's introduction to zen buddhism. in other words, as inscrutable as it gets. but after spending a day or two straining every sinew in the pursuit of satisfactory fartlek (whatever gets you through the night), those sinews and muscles will have developed micro-tears. it's how the body repairs those tears that determines their eventual strength of character.
and the only way to permit the repair process the laxity it requires, is to rest. which sort of brings us back to square one. with what is a potentially honed athlete to occupy him or herself while the state of rest gets to work?
if this part of the week's timetable happens to coincide with one of the spring classics, then eurosport or sporza will undoubtedly fit the bill. then there's always the option of a grand tour, or even a dvd of last year's ronde van vlaanderen. suddenly those cracks in the firmament seem less fissure-like than was once the case. however, the nub of the problem is likely to be the total inactivity engendered by simply watching the tellybox. an activity that can still be filed under the heading of rest, yet keep you occupied throughout, is the current trend for adult colouring books.
granted, there are more than just a few on offer; even the branch of w h smith at buchanan bus station carries more than just a few for choice. but in the sense that this colouring ought surely to continue the psychological part of training, would it not be more appropriate if those pictures for colouring were in some way related to the bicycle?
illustrator shan jiang has an enviable reputation for sophisticated digital illustration, one that has seen the light of day on recordings by faithless, amidst other high profile clients, but more pertinently as the cover artist for every issue of the ride journal to have seen the light of day from issue one to the present. in the bicycle colouring book he has produced 120 illustrations of varying complexity but left in their pristine line-art state to allow the resting athlete the luxury of choosing their very own coloured pencils, felt-tip pens, or should you bear greater artistic pretensions, perhaps a few tubes of gouache.
ostensibly, jiang's sequence of illustrations form a narrative, subtitled journey to the edge of the world. there's the possibility that you might have to own a particular brand of psyche to follow the twists and turns, but there's always the obscure possibility that the process of colouring in each bare illustration will make all a tad clearer than initial perusal might suggest. of course, there's no real necessity to colour in any particular sequence; picking and choosing is every bit as much fun, in my opinion.
i cannot deny that, in washingmachinepost croft, time is of the essence, leaving few minutes spare to colour in some pictures. in my case, the bicycle colouring book is one that i'd be likely to take on holiday to fill in those lazy moments in the sports plaza, while taking the occasional sup of cappuccino froth. thus, between receiving my review copy and the act of typing these words, i confess i have managed only one and a half coloured pictures. in my defence, they are very complex pics, demanding substantial deliberation over which pencil to pick from the box.
and i probably ought to lean a bit harder on the paper. "it's training jim, but not as we know it."
sunday 17 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................