Relax into the Pain

There many near-lyrical passages in Daniel Coyle’s wonderfully written book Lance Armstrong’s War. The follow section is, however, a favorite on rider Tyler Hamilton’s crash and subsequent difficulties on a mountain stage in the 2005 Tour:

Hamilton had a trick he did when he was at his limit, where he tipped his head back and relaxed into the pain. That was the key, not to fight it but to let it become a part of him. Strange, how hardness and softness were so close. He would almost close his eyes, make it all go away.

Now Hamilton tried it, tipping his head back and pushing harder, but this time hoping to feel the pain. It felt like a dream, like he’d been cut in two. His legs were right there, spinning away, perfect and undamaged, awaiting only the microburst of electricity that would turn things back to the way they should be, must be. He closed his eyes.

Lovely stuff, no matter how cynical subsequent revelations about drug use have rightly made we pain-junkie cyclists.