Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's not about the bike?

I blame Lance Armstrong, or at least the title of his autobiography. Yes, you might be able to do anything with willpower, but some good genetics is fundamental for success, and lacking that, preparation might definitely help. But it’s not about the bike: many seem to think that they can participate in a bike event with whatever piece of metal the kids left in the garage. Sometimes some obviously large amount of money has been spent, but on things whose value in the situation of a century of sub-century event seem pointless, if not even self-destructive.

Today we cruised pleasantly up and down the mountains all morning before crossing path again with the sub-century riders. Around a corner, a traitorous hill was waiting for us, and them. Suddenly we cam across a crowd of bizarrely-attired cyclists who had left the pedals and were pushing the bikes uphill, with us slaloming among the slow movers intent in their walk of shame. Many of these were riding with multiple packs, which I imagined containing changes of clothing or perhaps overnight bags. How much stuff do you really need to bring along a fully assisted thirty miles ride? Apparently a lot. A lady had come with a spanking new and obviously expensive cruiser, with a harley-style seat with silver studs probably heavier than my whole bike. Somebody should have explained to her that the seat size needs to be proportional to the sit bones, not to her rather generous behind. Then Gandalf, white beard and an incredibly expensive Rivendell machine with loads of really classy bags. There’s at least one in every century, sweating uphill yet swearing on the superiority of expensive steel bikes. Then people with regular road bikes walking along their ride equipped with a 53-39. If you can’t push a 39 on a steep hill (and believe me, I understand that very well), why not spending the bike money on a compact, or better, a triple. Most cheap entry level bikes sport three chainrings for a reason: if you haven’t biked much, that third ring will come in useful in cases like this.

Of course my hero is Mike Rotch. No, this is not his real name: it refers to a funny episode from my last century event and an even funnier misunderstanding. Mike rides a tri-bike. He’s a veteran of many battles, but for some reason thinks that the forward position with a solid disc wheel in the back. The ideal on long hills and steep descents on uncertain pavement! He pedaled with an odd, wide legw position, that might be the result of his antics.

But we sure did not see him walk, and I definitely wish to have his stamina, and courage, at his age.

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