A Case for Suffering: Amateur hour
Words by: Chris Case
Photos by: Brad Kaminski
I borrowed a 1990s vintage KHS with a curving seat tube from my friend, Nick Legan, jumped aboard, tucked into an aero position, and never looked back. That was years ago.
So when I started thinking about new and creative ways to do painful things to myself on a bike, in order to write stories for my column, “A Case for Suffering,” I knew I had to take on the “hour.”
It was something I had no business doing: I had never been to a velodrome or ridden a track bike before, and my time trialing skills were nonexistent.
Initially, my plan was to build up any old track frame I could find, ride around in circles as hard as I could for 60 minutes, and write about the pain. But once Legan caught wind of my idea, he helped me understand that there was a much more sophisticated and rewarding way to proceed. Since this would all be new to me, my eyes would be wide open to the science and technology that comes along with one of cycling’s toughest events. My summer immediately got a lot more serious. The pain and suffering would come later.
And the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie, Colorado, became my second home. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding project.
On the morning of September 26, I set off on what would become the most physically demanding hour of my life. It wasn’t so much the excruciating pain I felt, but the withering delirium and emptiness that crushed me. It was amazing fun — until it wasn’t.