Wednesday, May 21, 2008
For a PRO, the nap is de riguer, as much a fact of the life as training or crashing. It is part of the daily arc of a PRO’s life that makes them as alien to us as, well, the experience of pounding cobbles in the big ring. For the Average Joe, the nap is one of life’s stolen enjoyments, dessert for the legs. To take a post-ride nap is indeed a guilty pleasure for anyone who has pledged their life to others. Once there is a wife or children in the picture, any hour devoted to the comatose state of the spent is an hour stolen.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a number of species of naps. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Versus Nap: This nap can be found most frequently during the coverage of short stage races. Long road stages where breaks go up the road and are absorbed in between commercial breaks can lull the watcher into a supremely relaxed state reassured that the PROs are hitting it hard. No matter how interesting we find the unfolding of events, we can find ourselves waking to the shock that Alexandre Moos is no longer in the lead group. What happened? If you have ever used Tivo to rewind the action, you’ve taken this nap.
The Enforced Nap: This one can be identified by the salt crystals left behind on the blanket. Like the Versus Nap, it is generally taken near the TV, but the difference is this nap comes as a crushing blow to the consciousness. We see them coming and have time enough to select a position, no more. They frequently begin before we’ve had a shower, sometimes even before finishing a post-ride meal. We wake a little disoriented, sometimes an hour or two after the lights went out. Mouth open, cats and dogs have been known to climb on and off unnoticed during the course of this incredible recovery aid. On waking, our guilt usually gets us to the shower and productive even before we have gained an awareness of how much better we feel.
The Optioned Nap: The rarest nap of them all. Faced with options including items from the honey-do list, the bike work our baby deserves, unfinished work from the previous week’s work, it is that odd weekend afternoon when we are on our own and have just few enough tasks on the plate that we feel confident we can catch an hour or two of shut-eye before rejoining the human race. We fluff the pillows, climb in bed, sometimes even set an alarm and settle in for a special weekend-afternoon edition of the best recovery aid of them all.
We can do all the miles we want, but everyone knows that getting fast requires recovery. Here’s to the speed that sleep brings.