Reflections

Reflections.jpgIt’s been a few weeks now since Hawaii and I’ve had a good chance to reflect on my year. I’ve said before how Triathlon has changed my life and I really can’t understate it. This weekend I’m even considering going and joining the “Occupy Wall Street” movement by St Pauls. Those that knew me pre Triathlon will probably laugh a little at the thought of me doing that. This year particularly has seen a radical change for me. A year that has utterly changed my world view forever and how I imagine at the future. It is scary but as I get beyond the initial horror I am optimistic. I am lucky that I have had the time to think about this, that I somehow managed to escape my life in the city for I feel sure if I’d continued down that path I would not have had time to question the way things work. Triathlon was my escape route from the city. I find it funny that such an expensive sport, a sport that is supported by consumerism should be the sport that cured me of “affluenza”.

I discussed the reasons for my poor performance at Kona. I met Stephen and Tim for a drink last week and Tim was kind enough to be honestly blunt with me saying he felt riding the full course at Kona was a mistake within a week of the race. Getting honest feedback from friends is key to improving performance. I certainly don’t disagree with him but I’m not sure I would change it as I had such fun that day. Even so, given my knowledge of my training I know that changing details like that would have made little difference.

Post Ironman Austria my training was negligible. I again got engrossed in reading and thinking about Peak Oil and about where our industrial society is going. It was scary and I had to learn more, read more widely, get a balanced view, decide what I think is happening. I would wake with plans for training and start reading about this stuff and before I knew it the whole day would have been spent reading and no training. Even when I did get out my mind was elsewhere, my focus wasn’t there, I’d think of something and cut the session short to get home and research it. Yes, I blame my poor performance on PEAK OIL !! I don’t regret it though, it is far more important than some Ironman performance.

The night before the race I had the best sleep I’ve ever had pre race, I was the calmest I have ever been. Why ? I had a great coping technique – I just thought about Peak Oil and what’s happening to the world. Everything came into clear focus. Ironman was utterly unimportant, good fun but unimportant. I realised the fact that so many people can happily view Ironman performance as very important in their lives (I did) shows how coddled we’ve become. It’s a privilege of our generation to have the time and security to let sporting performance be our main concern in life. I realised how lucky I truly am. In Kona when we talked about the older age groups and speculated about returning when we’re that age I kept to myself the fact that I’m close to 100% certain we won’t be back at that age. Not because we won’t be good enough but because either Kona won’t be happening or we won’t afford to get there (or both). I’m pretty convinced that London will be one of the last Olympics held. Sport is a luxury endeavour and will not survive the end of oil in it’s current form. It’s no coincidence that the explosion in sport coincides with the oil age. Without such cheap energy most of us won’t have the time (or energy) to indulge in sporting excellence.

I enjoyed Kona like it was my last time there because I felt there’s a good chance it was. I hope it’s not. I’ve changed my mind about qualifying next year largely because I think year on year flights will be increasing in price and if I leave two years I may not be able to afford it.

This blog is going to morph a little. I plan to blog a lot about the Post Petroleum World. I intend and hope to get my training motivation back – in the summer the balance was skewed. I need the release that training will give. I hope to give a triathlon spin to my blog posts.

If you watch “Collapse” you will hear this little anecdote. The story of the 100th monkey. It goes something like this:

Back when the US was testing nuclear weapons above ground there was this island with monkeys and they wanted to see impact of the monkeys washing coconuts (or something) before eating – ie would it protect against radiation sickness. There were thousands of monkeys on the island and they taught some how to wash coconuts. They observed and found that slowly other monkeys learnt to wash coconuts. However, once the 100th monkey learnt spontaneously ALL monkeys started to wash coconuts.

Truly seeing the issues we face is something only a tiny minority currently see. If I were to summarise the issue it’s that infinite growth (nb any regular annual growth is infinite growth) is just not possible on a finite planet. To get this truly in the public mind doesn’t involve persuading everyone … just everyone up to that 100th monkey when everyone will realise. The Occupy Wall Street movement I believe could be the start of a revolution. People are starting to realise. Finally they are looking at the obscene wealth in the hands of a tiny minority and rather that seeing it as an aspiration (as it is depicted through the media in general) they are seeing it as a major flaw in our system. Lets face it can anyone be worth that much. Surely if someone makes that much money they ripped lots of us off along the way.

The world is massively over populated and without oil some major population reduction will happen. Many commentators on the subject of Peak Oil have decided there’s no point trying to persuade the people that don’t see it. Help those that do and don’t waste effort on the others. They have a point. If you can only save so many don’t waste time on the people that just don’t see it. I am trying to get those closest to me to realise. This blog has a small but regular readership and as such I feel these are also people I will try to convince.

Something else came up during those drinks last week. Tim told me how my mentioning justifying my flight to Hawaii had struck a cord with him. How he found it difficult to justify it himself. I was so pleased to hear it. So pleased to realise Tim was wrestling with the issues around our consumption. Perhaps just under the surface the majority of people have this little niggle that things aren’t quite right. Perhaps it won’t take much for the majority to realise the issues we face and take drastic action – give up your cars or at least don’t use your car for anything that can be done without it.

So how did I justify my flight. If I’m honest none of my justifications are truly valid BUT they were enough for me to be vaguely comfortable. Given I plan to get to Kona again how can I still justify it ? Here goes. [warning – anyone can rip holes in this. They are not water tight reasons]

  1. Selfishness. The option to fly round the world will not be around for much longer. I’d like to make the most of it whilst I can
  2. When it comes to intercontinental travel the use of oil is really the only option. Ideally travel other than this should be done by other means – walk, bike, use trains. ie most car journeys should be removed. Local journeys should be by foot, bike. Within country journeys by train (ideally electric). Intercontinental use our limited oil reserves. This I think would improve things (though not solve the issue). I have given up my car. I walk / bike day to day round Taunton. I use the train for other journeys (to see my sister in London, go to Ironman Wales). So I practise what I preach.

Not great reasons I know but sufficient for me to justify going again (at the moment). So I will try and qualify for Kona again. I’d like to experience it one more time (at least) and I’d like to race well again there. It took Mark Allen 7 attempts to race well there (and win), my next time there will be my 7th.

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