A Vision Quest of Fatigue

Hilton Head, end of the trip

Archive Saturday is an extract from my diary when I rode across the USA (March to May 2004).

This entry was written after the end of a big block. That morning, I had briefly fallen asleep swimming. Woke up when my head hit the bulkhead!


Barry was a favorite guest. At the time, we were eating out of buckets.

My buddy, Barry, had saddle sores so bad, he used his menthol lip balm for relief.

Never borrow lip balm from a vegan called Barry!

As an elite endurance athlete, there will be days when the best thing that happens is rolling a stick of lip balm onto your balls…

…and those will be some of the greatest days of your life!


There’s tired and there’s “lie down on a tarp, covered in mosquitoes and immediately fall asleep tired”

Here’s the thing about fatigue, at first we panic a little, eventually we accept it, then we find a way to relax and dance with it.


A BIG motivator with my Project (to get back in shape) is being able to do adventures with my son.
This is the morning we decided to swim to North Carolina and run up to road to meet our support vehicle.
Clas “the Baron” Bjorling in the middle & Ben on the right.

From back when the magazine business was a business…

They’d be out of business if we just put JFT on the cover and ran the adverts…

Social media wasn’t a thing in 2004 but the “attention economy” endures.

Be wary of sacrificing the quality of your work to offer novelty to the masses, most of whom will never follow your advice and gain The Knowledge.

The Knowledge doesn’t reside in textbooks, blog posts or podcasts.

Just Keep Training


Sam, me, Barry the Vegan // 8 weeks (and most of the USA) between this photo at the one above.
Fuel the work and don’t be a weight nut!
Always remember, NEVER borrow lip balm from Barry

Monday’s blog will be about A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence – it’s about creating a life that puts you in the position to do The Block.

The Block – a period of 4 months where you take yourself to the top.

The first half of my “Block” was swim/bike/run across America – 9 weeks.

The second half was a summer inside Dave Scott’s Team World in Boulder.

Barbarian Days!



gRAAM – Trans USA Day Forty-Eight
camden, tennessee

In the end, we were a bit tired to be much entertainment for Andy, but we left him a couple of souvenirs to show our appreciation of his hospitality.

We didn’t exactly rip out of bed. I managed a weak jog to the pool. The swim was even more lackluster. After 2,000 yards, I nearly fell asleep in the water (not a good sign at all). I managed to squeeze out 3,000 yards, but the last 500 was done in broken 25s at easy pace. Not pretty. I got out of the water and sat in the hot tub for a bit (memories of cracking post-Epic NZ #2).

I shuffled back to Andy’s place, where Baron and I conferenced and agreed that the overall run distance was 5.5K.

We had 180K on the ride agenda and I was starting the day highly whipped. Fortunately, we had tailwinds forecast, but there were a heck of a lot of rollers heading my way. I drank a half litre of gordo-brew, straight-up – nothing happened, not even a ripple in my system.

++++

So what does one think about when riding, totally wasted? Here’s a selection – as you can tell, I wasn’t feelin’ the love the whole way…

Jimi and me – hey, there’s a lot going on in the background of those songs. He’s laughing and joking the whole way through. Kinda like a my training days.

Dolan – Tom “Mr. Swimming” Dolan trained 100+KM per week in the water for an event that lasted four minutes. How could anybody reasonably expect to perform a 8-9 hour TT on a low-volume program?

Track Sessions – Who’s %^&*$#@ idea was that anyhow? I’m blown to bits and for what? …and the guy tells me to eat light at dinner. Man-o-man, isn’t he reading my reports? Eat light?! Bet he’s drinking a beer right now.

Training Regime – OK, you come and sit on my wheel for two weeks and then we’ll talk training protocols. Far easier to talk than to do what it takes. Two weeks in my big ring and counting.

Mr. Andersson – The guy chose the large jersey. I had the medium with me and he waived it off. Then he diss’d my gift on my site? Sponsor management? Dude, you can just mail that jersey back to me and I’ll find another home for it.

Lance – People diss the guy on the pride he has in his preparation. I’m shelled to s&*# and I’m a wee minnow compared to those guys. Everyone trains hard at the top? No way, only a few people truly apply themselves in ANY endeavour. The ability to persist beats ability. But they wish it was the other way. They wish that there was an excuse, any excuse, to avoid personal responsibility.

Scientists & Experts – I bet I couldn’t find one expert to agree with my training today but, I bet I could find a dozen world champions.

Coach – Don’t fool yourself. Coaches don’t make athletes. Athletes make athletes. Structure, motivation, objectivity, belief. The nature of a session? Doesn’t matter. JFT.

Fatigue – We’re looking for a new kind of fatigue out here. Something deeper, a pure fatigue. Not one of those bush league fatigues. A whole new kind of fatigue.

Balm – You know, that balm I put on my nads is probably going to be the highlight of this day. The menthol aspect lasted for at least forty minutes. That was nice. My only action is medication for my bag – all part of the elite triathlete lifestyle. Funny old life I lead. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rights – What am I doing out here? I am exercising my right of self-determination. Perhaps just self-termination.

Tri Mags – It would be pretty thin if you simply put JFT on the cover then ran the adverts. So much time, so much energy, so much money spent on items that have nothing to do with true performance.

I can’t really remember if those were before or after lunch. I do remember that we had 105K on the clock at lunch and my hands were shaking badly on arrival in Bells, TN.

B – I think that we should ride an extra 30K if we feel good.
G – More than 200K?
B – Yes, a good idea?
G – Why not.

So we headed out at 4:30 pm for a second leg of 125K, or so. Somewhere out there I got tired enough to simply relax and resign myself to my fate. Just like the winter storm day. Only this time it was different.

Baron was so shelled that he was pouring water on his head to keep himself from swerving too much. I think we were both beyond caring and feeling – we were simply going to ride until we got to the end or cracked. Neither of us expected to crack, but you can never really be sure.

…perhaps that’s why I did this trip. Because I wanted the knowledge. Yeah, that’s good to know. This could be as close as I’ll be able to come. My personal sixty quarters. Shared with the Baron. The same knowledge but different. I wonder if he understands? He certainly understands but he’d be no more able to explain it then I can. When you have the knowledge you don’t really need to explain it. You just lean back and smile while everyone else hangs at the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Molina has it, sure, but why is he telling me to eat light as well. Is he playing some kind of joke on me? I’m way past simple bean dip fatigue – isn’t he reading these reports. Maybe he’s taking me on the next step. Just keep riding…

…Guess it’s like the quiet power only deeper. If only a few have the knowledge then I wonder why so many of them don’t have the quiet power as well. Perhaps it’s difficult to transfer it across an entire spectrum. Flashes of enlightenment. Wonder how long this will stick with me. Probably be gone tomorrow. But it was nice while it lasted. Keep on riding…

…it’s not the insanity of cities, or the silliness of debate – it’s the total futility of everything. To fight every battle as if it was our last, all the while knowing that it’s really one big joke. A lot of warriors get the first bit but miss the second. Keep on riding…

We rolled into our campsite as darkness fell. Wy asked me a question and I said something along the lines of “I’m OK”. She noted that my reply wasn’t convincing but how to explain without sounding offensive or strange. My own vision-quest exploring the depths of fatigue.

I think we are going to make it, but who’s idea was that track session?

g-man

A Vision Quest of Fatigue