Its not about the bike (or the togs for that matter),
Living in The Land of the Long White Cloud, let alone Auckland (4 seasons in 1 day) means that we don't have a massive abundance of outdoor pools. Well, at least not compared to our neighbours across the Pacific...
But for a few blissful months each summer my one, local (when i was in wellington) outdoor lap pool opened up.
Built 30+ years ago she isn't much to look at, but when you are getting fresh air, and sunshine, and they have backstroke flags and decent lane ropes and the pool is regulation length, well, everything else is just window dressing.
Possibly the best and worst part about this pool was that it is in Lower Hutt, which seems to be well known for the locals doing mega Bombs off the side of the pool, as well as playing pool Volley Ball. Now this obviously meant a lot of waves and pool turbulence, but in turn meant that no-one was interested in swimming laps.
Helloooo, lane space.
It was a very similar situation in our (Myself and Steven) home training pools in the wonderfully diverse suburbs that were Nae Nae and Stokes Valley. Attached to this particular gem of a pool is the local sprawling gym. Originally our teams club room, it was converted into a Gym training facility about 8 years ago. During the winter it's bustling with people wanting to get that summer body, but during the summer it seemed as deserted as our outdoor swimming lanes.
I could lift, stretch and sweat with space.
One of the unique features of this gym is that they had a few Olympic lifting platforms, which means that the facility is popular with Crossfitters and Olympic lifters.
During one of my many visits to the facility, I was engaging in a nice bout of stretching post-swim when a fella strode in, outfitted head to toe in compression gear and Reebok clothing (for the uninitiated, Reebok Fitness is basically the gear and apparel arm of Crossfit). Over his shoulder a healthy sized duffel bag, a 4L jug of water in his hand.
He plopped his bag down beside the nearest platform and started unfurling gear.
A pair of lifting shoes.
Two Rx bands.
Another pair of lifting shoes.
And three shakers filled with various colored fluids.
A trigger point ball.
And on and on...
It was difficult to tell if he was about to workout or have a yard sale.
And while I sat there, trying to gain some sort of pliability from my cable-like hamstrings, I couldn't help but be a little impressed.
With all that stuff, I thought. He must really know what he is doing.
You'd think, right?
After a ten minute warm up including some failed handstands, squaring all his body weighton top of a trigger point ball to smash his hips (ouch), he got up to the squat rack, pounded his chest a couple times, grunted, and barely completed 2 reps at 60kg. (For a guy of this size and shape, was not a lot, Trust me on that)
The form was another matter altogether. (I could already envision the nice stuff his soon-to-be physio was going to be buying himself.)
The lesson here?
Don't be that guy. Obviously. All the gear and no idea.
But more importantly, nice stuff is great, it's shiny, but it doesn't replace the things that matter.
Like a work ethic. Accountability. Doing things right. And a desire to see through your goal regardless of what you have or don't have at your disposal.
I get the appeal of having the latest and greatest in performance gear. Wearing it just makes you feel like a better athlete.
But with that comes the mental trap that you think that stuff is necessary to swim fast (I got caught in that myself, with the banning of suits in 2009 I thought I would never swim fast again). That you can't be the swimmer you want to be until you have the best equipment. The best facilities. The absolute best in everything.
Don't fall for the hype behind nice stuff. Some of the best swimmers in the world came from tiny, cramped pools.
During my best years in swimming we trained in a dank, 6 or 7 lane(depending what day it was) 25m pool that was 31 degrees had ladders and rails hanging out into the lanes (hand bruises for days).
Between our tiny group (Myself, Steven and 3 other lads) and that dark and barely-breathable pool in the span of three years we broke easily over 100 Wellington Records, dozens of National Age Group records, gained numerous Age and Open National titles, as well as gaining Fina Swimming World Cup medals and World Surf medals.
In the words of Ike Eisenhower, "Dollars and guns are no substitute for brains and will power."