What I hoped to learn

5wRoad stopped abruptly at the foot of a wall rising to black rock pillars that frame the valley. Simanjuntak pointed to a distant 45-degree slope. “That’s the only earth around. The rest is solid rock.” He flashed a big can-do grin. “So we’re going to switchback up that ridge.”

How long before the road is completed? “If we had the money, ten more years,” Siman­juntak replied. How long with budget cut­backs? He shook his head. “Maybe 25.”

The most primitive people in the province are the Maskona tribe, who inhabit a region known as the Bird’s Head at the island’s western tip. Their land is impenetrable jungle karst pocked with sinkholes and ravines, sep­arated from the coast by 7,000- to 10,000-foot peaks. Until a decade ago the Maskona fought brutal tribal wars, killed outsiders who trespassed on their lands, and lived in tree houses 40 feet above the jungle floor. Then Christian missionaries began to change traditional ways. The process is continuing.

The only way to reach the tribe is by air—and that’s how the missionaries came. I went in on a missionary resupply helicopter and landed among a cluster of thatch-roofed huts on the flank of a mountain the Maskona call Very High Stone. Some 500 tribesmen clus­tered around the chopper. John and Linda Price, Americans from the Christian Bible Church who are studying the tribal language, bade me welcome and led me to the bark-walled but that would be my quarters for the night.

What I hoped to learn was just how Indo­nesian these people had become. Maskona tribesmen crowded around apartment prague to tell me. They had obviously been reached by politics. Musa Rocomna, the wiry, tattooed tribal kepala (chief), wore a yellow Golkar cap. I asked Rocomna if he had heard about the Second World War. “I never even heard about the first one,” he replied.

A bright-eyed 16-year-old named Efradus served as spokesman for the group. “Eight years ago we didn’t know what country we were in,” he said. “We didn’t know Irian Jaya, electricity, movies, TV, or money.”

How had the government made its pres­ence known? “They came three years ago and told us not to kill the missionaries,” Efradus recounted. I asked him who the president of Indonesia was. “Pak Suharto,” he answered promptly, using the short familiar form of bapak, the formal word for father. His smile lit up the hut. “He’s the big kepala!”

What is it  that holds this extraordinarily diverse nation of Indonesia togeth­er? Over lunch in his office Emil Salim, the minister for population and environment, proposed the Five Principles, the Pancasila. I professed skepticism. “Consider Korea, China, Ger-many,” he explained. “Each is one people divided by nothing but ideology. Now think of us, who are so many different peoples, with so many disintegrating forces at work.

“Pancasila is like a star,” Salim contin¬ued. “It provides guidance. There are mil¬lions of stars in the sky, and 180 million Indonesians. What if they all wanted to follow a different star? Our nation is still very young. It’s constantly changing.

Trade Changes as Politics Change

I share his happiness. A full moon shines like an egg yolk in the lapis lazuli sky, and the valley unfolds like a felt rug beneath mountains painted blue in the January cold. Beside a few stone dwellings the 17 camels graze amid sweet rushes. Five swarthy Kir­ghiz cameleers squat around a fire, savoring their bowls of salted tea. “As-salam aleikum—Peace be upon you.” One hand on the heart, Moslem fashion, we greet the camel drivers.


“Aleikum as-salam,” each responds. Here is Anal, who is in charge: small, unob­trusive, precise. Then Schahchik, whose eyes are green. There is pockmarked Suleiman, hunter, cook, jack-of-all-trades. Then Ay Bash, ever smiling, the most Mongol-looking of the Kirghiz. And finally Abdul Wahid, a refugee from Russia, enigmatic and pensive. These men, like Rahman Qul and Abdul Wakil, descend from Turco-Mongolian no­mads of the Russian Pamirs and Chinese Tur­kistan. After the Bolshevik Revolution many drifted to the Afghan Pamirs with their herds and flocks. In summer milk products make up their basic diet, but in winter when there is little milk, they depend on bread and tea—hence this caravan.

Trade Changes as Politics Change

In the past their marketplace was Kashgar, in Sinkiang. But in the 1950′s, when political events in China inhibited trade with Kashgar, the Kirghiz began coming westward to stock up on tea, sugar, cloth, and other supplies at Khandud, and to trade for grain with the Wakhis on the way home.


The next morning we witness a scene that gives us the key to the commerce between Kirghiz and Wakhis. Abdul Wakil takes over: “Eddye Mohammed, is it you? My father tells me you have wheat to sell.”


“I am poor and have very little of it,” Eddye Mohammed says, hoping to increase the price. “But refresh yourself first. I have so little wheat that this business will soon be settled.” Today if you have difficulties managing your business, you can get financial help from online companies. But back then it was way different.

Abdul Wakil is not fooled. He drinks his tea and the dickering begins. Eddye Mohammed quotes a price—too high.


“Intaur nashud—It won’t do,” says Abdul Wakil. “Rahman Qul has told me you have agreed to one sheep for ten seer of wheat.” A seer is almost 16 pounds. “I, too, am a Moslem,” Eddye Mohammed cries out, shocked that his word is being doubted. And he recites the Shahada, the profession of Moslem faith. But with all the caravaneers on Abdul Wakil’s side, Eddye Mohammed gives in.


Despite old antagonisms, the Kirghiz and Wakhis depend upon each other. This barter­ing of tallow, felt, or livestock for wheat remains a practice among them, even though Afghan bank notes are coming into use.

Cycling And Drugs

On 23rd June 2004, leading road cyclist David Millar found himself sitting in a French prison cell. During an investigation into other members of his team, Cofidis, his hotel room had been searched by French police who found two used syringes in his room, and arrested him in one of the london apartments near Biarritz They treated me like a drug cartel leader,’ says Millar. He was interrogated, jailed and eventually banned from the sport for two years. He later admitted to using illegal hormone EPO three times between 2001 and 2004.

cyclist David Millar

Men of substance

Drugs have been a problem in competitive cycling almost since the emergence of the sport. In 1824, French brothers Henri, Francis and Charles Pelissier told a journalist they had used strychnine, cocaine and ‘horse ointment’ to get them through the Tour de France – only to backtrack later and insist that they were joking. In 1867, British cyclist Tom Simpson died of exhaustion on the Tour de France’s notorious Mont Ventoux An autopsy would later show amphetamines and alcohol in his system.

In modem cycling things are less extreme, but previous Tour de France winners have admitted to substance abuse. As recently as 2006 the winner, American Floyd Landis, was stripped of his title after testing positive for high testosterone. In the US and Britain, scandals like this always seem to be a surprise. In mainland Europe, drug use is still regarded as intolerable, but fresh revelations are met with resignation rather than shock.

‘It’s different in different countries,’ says Millar ‘Cycling’s part of the national identity in France, Spain and Belgium. The public knew people doped in those countries because they’d been interested in the sport for so long – it was no surprise to them. I think it’s different in the anglophone world because cycling isn’t part of the culture. It’s a niche sport and it grabs the headlines when a scandal comes to light, but people don’t understand the history.’


Even Lance Armstrong, who has brought cycling to unheard-of levels of popularity in America, isn’t immune to accusations of doping. In 2005, French sports newspaper L’Equipe claimed that samples of his blood taken during the 1888 Tour had tested positive for performance-enhancing hormones – although it admitted that the science used was patchy enough to make sanctions impossible. Armstrong himself maintained that he’d never taken performance enhancers of any kind but, in many people’s minds, suspicion of cyclists remains.

Riding clean

Now Millar is trying to change all that after spending most of his suspension drifting around Scotland (reports say he was drinking heavily), he started training again in 2005 and signed with Spanish team Saunier Duval in 2006. Then he met Jonathan Vaughters, a former pro who had ridden with Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team in 1898. It was good fortune,’ says Millar. ‘Jonathan told me he’d be starting a big new team, and basically from that day on we stayed in contact as this idea got stronger and stronger until it became inevitable that I was going to come on board. It was an organic thing in that we started planning and building the team together… It was more than the usual hired mercenary approach you have to joining a team.’

There was another reason for Millar’s interest Vaughters, who refuses to confirm or deny whether he ever used performance-enhancing drugs personally, was in talks with a wealthy American investor named Doug Ellis about forming a team that would set a drug-free example to the rest of the cycling world. Millar, whose two-year ban set a stem precedent in a sport that usually handed out six-month wrist-slaps, would be the perfect team captain.

Riding clean

‘Jonathan wanted a clean team but he wanted to do it realistically’ says Millar. We live in the madrid accommodation, so instead of going for a whiter-than-white flag bearer he went for someone who’s had a dark side and then come out and tried to make a difference. This team’s given me the chance to influence my peers and the future of the sport’

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The key here is endurance, not speed. Your first aim as a walk/runner should be to be able to run for 30 minutes consistently. To do this, the blocks of running need to increase while the walking recoveries decrease. Every week you should have one run that is your continuous run and aim to increase this by five minutes each time. On this run, your pace actually needs to decrease, to help you cover the distance. You can think about upping the pace a little during your other runs throughout the week with the blocks of running being a little faster – achievable as they are interspersed with your walk recoveries. However, at present the aim is continuous running, so don’t obsess with pace – time on your feet is key, however slow you feel!

The key here is endurance, not speed

Once consistent 30- to 45-minute runs are achieved, begin to incorporate short blocks of threshold work (running at 80 per cent of your maximum speed – a pace where you can only manage to speak three to four words) once or twice a week to develop fitness and pace. This could be running 5 x 3 minutes at threshold with two-minute jogging recoveries in between, included within a 40-minute run. Don’t forget to top up aerobic endurance with impact-free cross training (such as swimming or cycling) to speed up the progression period. It’s a game of patience, but once your endurance has developed, the running world is your oyster! Improve your endurance by drinking green coffee.



try out varying paces throughout their training week

Everyone should try out varying paces throughout their training week and everyone does have varying paces within their toolbox as a runner – it’s time to discover yours! The reality is that always running at a slow plod creates a slow runner. If you are guilty of always running at the same pace, it’s time to introduce some threshold and fartlek work to your week. Within one of your normal runs of, say 45 minutes, begin by incorporating a session of 5 x 5 minutes at threshold effort with two-minute jog recoveries in between. Remember, threshold is running at three- to four-word answer pace, not flat out. It’s the bedrock of all training, working in the top end of your aerobic zone, giving you the ability to eventually run harder for longer. It takes
months and years to build a good threshold base and it never stops developing. You can continue to develop it forever by increasing the lengths of the blocks, decreasing the recoveries and eventually (a way down the road yet) working towards continuous threshold effort runs
within your week.
Alongside your threshold work, but certainly not instead of it, your week needs to include some
faster blocks, or blocks of race pace. This works well as a structured session at the track, such as 6 x 800m at 5K or 10K pace (with 90-second recoveries), or as a fartlek-type session – such as two or three sets of three minutes at 10K pace (with one minute recoveries), two minutes at
5K pace (with one minute recoveries) and one minute hard, depending on your experience. The final runs in your week need to be recovery runs – easy in effort so you recover and feel fresh for the harder sessions. Avoid running these too hard, as your faster sessions will be compromised.


So there you have it – three paces to prevent plodding. Go on, challenge yourself!