Pain Face


If you watch the pro’s, they always look so composed and rarely stressed. The legs might be spinning or grinding, the body working at full stretch. The face ? Nothing. Nothing to suggest that the engine room is working at full tilt and that the mind is making thousands of reasoned decisions.

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Most of the rest of us have to settle for the Painface. The face is the part of the body that, for normal mortals, portrays and betrays the effort that the rest of the body is putting in. I can’t get rid of mine. It’s an involuntary thing. Before the whistle I’m all nervous banter and bonhomie, but within  minutes of the start until the end I’m cross eyed with pain and open mouthed with desire for oxygen. The facial expression then stays the same for the race, faintly portaying dismay at only 20 minutes gone, and mild determination at the bell.


If long steady rides in the offseason are the bottom of the pyramid of training, learning to avoid the painface is right at the top. Absent a painface, the general idea is that you have a massive psychological advantage over  painface users in that they think that you are nowhere near your limit while they are teetering on the very edge of theirs. Basically they are more likely to crack than you, even though you are probably fairly evenly matched. A slight dig from you and they crumble, like the painface dilettante’s they are.

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I have an involuntary painface so  I’ve tried to disguise it by concentrating, but I still look like a cross between a goldfish and a stroke victim. During a race, there is a distortion in the space/time continuum. It seems like forever, but afterwards despite it only being 45 minutes or an hour, you have an imperfect recall of what happened. Bits come back to you, but not everything. During the race, you are so concentrating on the ‘the race’  – pace/line/ technique/other competitors, that you feel like you’re in a tunnel. I concentrate so hard that I remember to look at my watch maybe twice during a race. So doing all of that while also remembering to look like your face isn’t showing that your blowing ?  No chance.

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