Okay. I got about three hours of sleep last night — parenting stuff — and so I am not feeling particularly funny today.
I am, however, feeling like writing something.
So I’m going to write about this ridiculous Tony Kornheiser, who yesterday used his radio show to urge people to get in their cars and run over cyclists.
I got a lot of comments and email yesterday, asking me to respond. So here’s my gut response:
A lot of people in the universe are jerks. Most of these people, sadly, have enormous metal weapons known as “cars.” This guy is one of those jerks with cars. The only difference is he has a radio show.
He didn’t say anything new, or interesting. Just stupid.
What is interesting, however, is that Lance Armstrong really got into this. Here are some of his tweets from yesterday:
Listening to Tony Kornheiser’s comments/rant on ESPN radio re: cyclists. Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot.
Tony Kornheiser on cyclists on the road, “run ‘em down”. Really? Big mistake, Tony.
Have a listen. http://ow.ly/1nByQ. Listen to the March 11, part 1 segment and go to 30 mins in.
And then, this:
How douchebags apologize…RT @ESPNRadio980: @ESPNRadio980 – Hoping to be a Trending Topic Worldwide today, keep your fingers crossed…
And, then, amazingly, this:
…just off the phone w/ Tony Kornheiser who’s very sorry 4 his comments re: cyclists. Going on the show 2morrow 2 discuss this w/ him.
Yes, that’s right. Tony, by being a total jerk, has gotten an interview with Lance Armstrong.
So, let’s liveblog that show right now.
9:04: Lance begins by accepting Tony’s apology (Tony called Lance and apologized, which is fine…for Lance). Says that he accepts the apology and thinks it’s sincere.
9:05: Lance is talking about a guy in NC who got killed yesterday by a car. Says, “Let’s all get along here.”
9:07: Tony says that yesterday Lance said that people in cars will get behind tractors or horses and wait forever, but get crazy angry when they get behind a cyclist. Asks why this is so. Lance says he doesn’t know. Says that he’s seen people do crazy things to avoid squirrels or dogs on the road, but get angry at cyclists on the road.
9:08: Lance says that 40 years ago, 40% of kids rode their bikes to school and there was 14% obesity rate. Now 3% ride to school, and obesity is much higher.
9:09: Lance talks about a hypothetical 40-year-old woman who gets brushed by a rear-view mirror, says she’ll never ride again. We need bike lanes for people who are new to riding, so people can ride and feel safe.
9:11: Lance asks Tony the furthest he’s ever ridden a bike, Tony admits to not riding at all, except spin classes. Tony makes fun of cycling clothes, Lance points out that all athletic clothing looks silly outside its context.
9:12: Tony asks Lance what it’s like to daily get the kind of scrutiny Tony’s getting because of this event. Lance takes the opportunity to tell him that this is the way the world is now, you big fool. Word spreads fast. Lance also holds Tony’s feet to the fire and reminds him that he was a jerk, for real.
9:15: Tony asks Lance why he retired and then came back to cycling. Great question, Tony, since it hasn’t been asked a million times before.
9:16: Lance tells him he’s racing to raise cancer awareness, and because he likes racing.
9:17: Tony asks Lance if he really drinks Ultra. Lance dances around the question, then finally says, “Yes, I drink Ultra.”
9:18: Tony says, “Someday we’ll go on a ride and then drink an Ultra together, OK?” And Lance says, “Sure,” essentially.
So the lesson we can all take from this, kids, is that if you want to go on a ride or have an interview with Lance Armstrong, get a radio show and urge people to run over cyclists.
Then just sit back and let the Internet do its thing.
Here are my “Now that I’ve had a few minutes to think” reactions to this whole thing:
- I need sleep.
- It’s easy for me to forget that a lot of people who listen to Kornheiser’s show wouldn’t have heard the outrage that came in response to it. So while to me it seems like Kornheiser was “punished” for his bad behavior by getting an interview with a guest he would have never otherwise netted, Lance coming on the show was probably a good thing for cycling and maybe hopefully got some people to reconsider their angry attitude toward cyclists.
- Kornheiser was a jerk for, after all this, needling Armstrong on the Ultra thing. Armstrong just gave him an easier time than he deserved, and Tony finishes by attacking the source of Armstrong’s paycheck?
- I need sleep.
Perhaps the third most ridiculous thing I have ever done is invent the 100 Miles of Nowhere. The second most ridiculous thing was to drink a bottle of Cholula in one sitting, and I elect at this time to not disclose the most ridiculous thing I have ever done, because it is far to embarrassing, and because it will probably make a pretty good blog entry at some point.
I am happy to announce that you too have the opportunity to participate in the third annual 100 Miles of Nowhere, with all profits going — once again — to Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge.
What is the 100 Miles of Nowhere, you ask? Good question. Long ago, I rode 100 miles on my rollers in a single sitting, just to be bullheaded. Other people thought it sounded like something we ought to do as a group, so last year we did. Many people rode on their rollers or trainers, others rode a very small loop near their house.
The idea, basically, is to ride an infuriatingly small course for 100 miles, to fight cancer and to show you have no sense at all. People did it, and sent in awesome race reports, including one video that was so awesome I watched it five times. Watch it and tremble.
More details will be coming soon (like, on Monday), but the essentials are listed below (with the super-essential stuff conveniently bolded for, well, your convenience):
- Registration for the event is March 22 – 28 (or ’til the event sells out), and is pre-register only.
- As with last year, your registration makes you an official participant in the race and a guaranteed winner of whatever division you choose.
- The schwag box you’ll receive is on the extra-awesome side of the awesome scale, and will include the Twin Six T-shirt you see above, along with good stuff from Clif, DZ Nuts, Timex, CarboRocket, Team Garmin-Transitions, Harper-Collins, Banjo Brothers, and more (I’m being coy about the “more” part ‘cuz I’m still working deals and stuff). How awesome is that? Very, very awesome.
- Registration will be $95.00 this year.
- This event is capped at 500 participants. This is because I’ve asked the sponsors to provide awesome schwag, and they don’t have an infinite amount to spread around. And Twin Six — who, against their better judgment will be doing fulfillment for this race again — doesn’t have the capacity to send out a zillion boxes.
- The race is May 8. Or you can do it May 7. Or whenever, really. But for solidarity, you should do it on May 8. Unless you’ve got something important going on. In which case you should do it a different day. Have I made myself clear?
- If you’re a local — i.e., Utah County or SLC — you should plan on doing this event with me. I haven’t gotten the details finalized, but I plan on borrowing some bike shop space and making this a group thing. It will be fun! Just kidding, it won’t be fun. But it will be less un-fun.
As always, you get to be the one who decides what your route will be. You can be very bland — like me — and just ride your rollers or trainer. Or you can ride around the block for 100 miles. Or around the high school track. Or around your cul-de-sac. Regardless, you’re sure to generate a very interesting GPS breadcrumb, as well as a strong aversion to whatever route location you choose.
The ride plan was simple, really. We wanted to find out what the Ironman bike course felt like in its entirety. So we’d park at the reservoir, do the 22-mile ride to the beginning of the two-lap part of the ride, do the two laps, and then — even though this was not part of the course — we’d ride back to the reservoir.
A 140-mile road ride, give or take. Ambitious, but not ridiculous.
There was just one snag: the weather forecast for St. George that day was odd: “Windy,” it said. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing a weather forecast saying that before. “Sunny,” sure. “Overcast,” “Rainy,” “Snowy,” absolutely. But never “Windy.”
The weather forecast, as it turns out, was inaccurate only to the extent that it should have read, “Windy as hell.“
I imagine hell as a very windy place. Don’t you?
As soon as the ride began, The Runner and I — as a survival technique — started taking turns drafting, in a decidedly un-TT-like fashion.
By the time we had ridden the first half of the first lap of the course, I noticed we were averaging 12.5 miles per hour. I did some math for what that meant, finishing-time-wise, and didn’t like the answer I came up with.
I checked my math. I was not wrong. If the wind held (or got stronger, which seemed likely) and we stuck to the original plan, it’d be close to dark before we finished the ride.
I said as much to The Runner, who replied, “I’m determined to finish this ride.” Which was good enough for me.
Until it wasn’t.
The Right Thing to Say
At Veyo, about 20 miles from finishing the first loop, we stopped at a convenience store. At that point we hadn’t gone far enough that either of us should be cooked, but I was cooked. And The Runner looked tired, too.
But I did not say anything. I had already asked for an “out,” and was declined. I, being a macho, macho man, would tough out the ride, no matter what.
And then we began the ride toward Saint George and the beginning of the second lap. This section is primarily downhill, and should be an excellent place to recover.
But the wind was coming at us, hard, from eleven-o’clock. Meaning it had all the power of a nice hard headwind plus the exciting challenge of a brutal crosswind.
I did more math. And the math looked bad. I arrived at a conclusion: I really really really did not want to do the second lap.
But how to tell The Runner this? I used the ample time I had — courtesy of a murderous headwind / crosswind — to think of a convincing argument.
Here is what I came up with:
I am so tired. I don’t think I can handle a second lap. What do you say we just cut it short and head back to the truck?
I didn’t like that, though. Saying “I am so tired” is an admission of weakness, and as a man, I am contractually obligated to never ever (ever) admit weakness.
So I formulated another speech, this time focusing on a logical approach:
You know, we’re going eleven miles per hour right now. It will be dark in four hours, and if we do a second lap, we have seventy more miles to ride. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to finish this ride in the wind and the dark and the rain.
No good. She’d already know all of that. She didn’t need me shepherding her.
I crafted a casual dismissal of the second lap:
Really, I think we’ve got a good idea of what this course has in store for us. I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for us to ride it again.
I liked this approach at first, but as I practiced saying it in my head, I realized she’d see right through it.
I considered the pathetic approach:
I’m in my small ring, going downhill. I don’t think I want to do this again in the dark and rain. And I’m cold, I’m tired, I hate the wind, my nose is running, and this just isn’t fun anymore and I want to go home. [Then start crying for effect]
In addition to this approach being pathetic, it was in fact also the most honest approach, and I was just about to go with it.
Then The Runner said, “There’s no way we’re doing a second lap today.”
And my speeches — my wonderfully crafted and extremely persuasive statements — suddenly became unnecessary.
And my relief was as exquisite as it was poignant.
There are many, many things I love about road biking. I love how smooth and fast it is. I love how you can start right from your front door. I love how you are going slow enough that you can see what’s going on around you, but fast enough that you still get somewhere. I love how elegant a road bike looks. I love the way a road bike feels when you stand up and rock it in a climb. I love how a road bike feels as you lean into a sweeping downhill turn. I love how you can make decisions about your ride as the ride progresses — make it longer, shorter, climbier or flatter — whatever suits you, thanks to the fact that someone has kindly laid pavement all over the place.
And I could go on. See, I wasn’t kidding when I said “many” twice in the above paragraph.
Of all the truly wonderful things about road biking, however, one thing surpasses them all:
The convenience store.
Truly, the modern convenience store is a marvel of nature, ideally adapted for the road cyclist, and in particular for the road cyclist who’s been riding for several hours and has a $10.00 bill in his (or, to be sure, her) jersey pocket.
Convenience stores are, simply, the best thing about road cycling.
And if you don’t agree with me, try riding — as The Runner and I did about a week ago as we pre-rode the St. George Ironman road course — about seventy miles into a headwind, with another several hours of riding left to go, when you find yourself confronted by a convenience store.
At that moment, I guarantee you will find yourself in agreement with me, as you should have been all along.
The Remarkable Thing About Convenience Stores
Consider this for a moment: You have been on your bike for hours, and you are hungry. And thirsty. For some reason, you cannot get the image of a Fat Boy ice cream sandwich out of your mind. And the thought of a Mountain Dew is lodged in there pretty well, too. And so is a Churro. And Twizzlers (or Red Vines — let’s not argue).
You stop at a convenience store, and — really, this is just magical — you can convert a small piece of paper into all of these things. It boggles my mind, frankly, that someone would give me all this food, for which I would gladly trade my bike, my helmet, my shoes and my glasses, in exchange for a little piece of paper.
A piece of paper becomes a delicious ice cream sandwich. Seriously. It’s like I’m some kind of genius ice-cream-obsessed alchemist or something.
Or, if you’re all high-techy and stuff, you can swipe a card with magnetic strip in exchange for the same kind of thing. In which case you are literally getting something for nothing.
Cornucopia of Goodness
The simple fact that a negligibly light piece of paper can be converted into a vast amount of food is enough to treat convenience stores as a modern miracle. But there’s more.
Specifically, the variety is incredible. At one recent convenience store stop — in Veyo, Utah, during the aforementioned death march against a headwind — I purchased and ate a large cup full of serve-yourself soft-serve ice cream, during which I demonstrated my ability to stack ice cream very high indeed. And then I had a soft pretzel. And a hot dog.
And while I did not have a package of Fig Newtons, nor a plate of nachos, nor a monstrous Snickers bar, nor a Haagen-Dasz bar, I could have. And nearly did. And maybe would have, but people were starting to stare.
Really, the variety of ways I could satisfy my hunger — a hunger understood only by cyclists who have been running on empty for hours — was practically endless.
I am not ashamed to say that — so great was my gratitude for all these good things, neatly arranged in rows and along the self-serve counter at the wall — that I nearly climbed over the counter to hug the clerk.
But he did not look like the kind of person who wanted or needed a hug, so I stuck with profusely thanking him for letting me buy the double-armload of food. “Thank you, sir,” I said, my eyes misting over with joy, “for stocking your store so thoroughly and so well. Furthermore, thank you for being willing to part with this food. You can be confident that I will use it well and enjoy all of it.”
Since this convenience store is the first one in many miles along a very popular cycling route, I’m guessing this was not the first time this clerk has been thanked in this way.
If there were just one convenience store in the world, cyclists would travel from every continent, just to plan a ride that had that convenience store on the route.
Although, come to think of it, you’d need a different name for this hypothetical sole convenience store, since for the vast majority of the universe, it would be very inconvenient.
“Inconvenient store,” maybe? Not very catchy, I’m afraid.
My point, though, is that convenience stores are convenient. They’re all over the place. Unless you’re starting and staying on a wilderness road, you will almost certainly pass a convenience store as you ride by.
Which, I believe, is the most compelling proof there is that progress is good.
Something for Nothing
And now I come to the part where I have to shamefacedly admit something. At this particular convenience store on this particular day, I actually had no cash at all, nor a card. I was bumming off The Runner, who had thoughtfully brought $20 — enough money to let me buy a second serving of soft-serve. Which I did.
But even if The Runner had chosen not to spot me the money I needed to indulge my most remarkable superpower — the ability to eat vast quantities, all the time — the convenience store would still have been a boon.
Sure, I wouldn’t have been able to have ice cream or a churro. And that would have been very sad indeed. But convenience stores carry a number of free items that can help the cash-strapped cyclist in need of calories.
Take, for instance, water. And sugar, and a number of lemon wedges — all free, when combined into your water bottle. Shake vigorously. Congratulations, you’ve just made a nice little hobo sports drink.
Need more calories? I have two words for you: Mayonnaise packets. They’re as plentiful as they are delicious. The mayo is delicous, I mean. The packets themselves are pretty difficult to swallow. Did you know, in fact, that ounce for ounce, mayonnaise has more calories than any energy gel in existence? Plus, mayo is free. And it goes great with mustard and is delicous on just about any kind of sandwich.
And there’s more. Need sodium? Pickle relish is free. Thirsty? Water’s free.
Need to use the bathroom? Yep, free.
Which makes me want to ask: Convenience stores, why are you so generous and good?
The honeymoon is over. Not in the “we’ve started making passive-aggressive comments veiled as harmlessly sarcastic observations” sense, but rather in the sense that The Runner and I are back from our honeymoon.
The truth is, what we called a “honeymoon,” many people would have called an intense five-day training camp. Hard hikes, long runs, mountain biking, and road biking. And a lot of Mexican food (we weren’t in Mexico; we both just like Mexican food).
It was perfect. And I have many stories to tell.
But today — because I’m still feeling all lovey-dovey — I’m going to talk about the oddities I’ve recently learned about when cyclists make a love connection.
If you ride a bike for enough years, it permanently warps your sense of fashion. This happens in stages.
- Revulsion. When you first start riding, you find cycling clothes off-putting. The jerseys are too tight, and the colors are ridiculous. The shorts are obscene, and the chamois, well, it makes you look foolish and awkward.
- Acceptance. After a time, you realize that bright jerseys help motorists see you, the polyester wicks sweat pretty well, the tight fit keeps the jersey from flapping in the wind or inflating like a kite, and those tight lycra shorts — chamois and all — do a good job of keeping your legs from chafing and don’t get in the way of your ride.
- Enjoyment. After riding long enough, you begin to associate the pleasure of cycling with the clothes you wear while cycling, and somehow your head makes you think that you actually like the clothes themselves.
To this commonly-accepted (even though I just made it up) progression, I would add a fourth step: Attraction. Specifically, I have — a number of times — told The Runner that my favorite look for her is when she’s suited up for a ride: hair in a ponytail poking through the back of her helmet, no makeup at all, shorts, jersey, biking socks and shoes on.
Oh, and I dig the fingerless gloves, too.
The Runner, as near as I can tell, does not believe that I am telling the truth, but I swear I am. My thinking is that people look their best when they are dressed to look like their true selves — in The Runner’s case, as an athlete (i.e., she looks just as good when suited up to run).
I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. Can I get an “amen” from guys who think their women (or women in general) look their hottest when on a bike?
And as for you women, well. The Runner, on a group ride a couple weeks ago, confided to me, “There are five guys in tight shorts with extremely nice butts, right in front of me. I love road rides.”
To which I responded, “You are not allowed to ride with men, ever again. Ever.”
Impressing the Opposite Sex
This part is not really unique to cycling, but as a 43.75-year old man, I would have thought I’d be immune to it. Turns out I’m not.
The part I’m referring to is, of course, the male impulse to do something stupid, in the hopes that a particular female will not think it’s stupid, but rather that it’s awesomely sexy and stuff.
I wonder if that has ever worked?
In any case, I bring this up because last Friday, The Runner and I arrived in St. George in the early afternoon, and found — to our surprise — that it was sunny and warm outside. We quickly made our way to the Bear Claw Poppy trail (which means, I think, that this trail was named after a couple of different kinds of pastries).
Neither of us had ever ridden the trail before; both of us were on singlespeeds. I led out, and shortly came upon a group of guys with big-hit full suspension rigs, all looking down at the approach to a drop. Another from their group were at the edge of the drop, looking over. I could not see what was beyond that edge.
Nobody was going.
The Runner rolled up to the edge to have a look, at which point I had a really awesome idea: I would just go ride it.
So I did. Butt over the back seat, rear brake feathered, front brake untouched.
I got to the edge of the drop and saw — to my relief and pleasure — that it was not beyond my ability. Not even close, really. So I rode it, then stopped and scooped up and threw leaves into the air, while thumping my chest and shouting “Ook Ook OOOOK.”
And then for the rest of the trail, whenever there were markings saying that the trail was easier in one direction and harder in another, I’d take the harder direction. Hoping to impress my woman.
I did all this, by the way, after we had been married, meaning that — I think — I had done all the mate-attracting stunts necessary.
Which just goes to show — and I believe I may not be the first person to assert this — men are dumb.
I could point out, by the way, that none of this was anywhere near as dumb as — having finally recovered from hip flexor pain that lasted a month and prevented me from running even once in weeks — I went ahead and did a half-marathon-distance run with The Runner the next day, just to show that I’m every bit as smart as a bar of soap.
« Previous Page — « Previous Entries Next Entries » — Next Page »