Shaving my legs, so you don't have to!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The "conversation"

We've all heard it, or have been sucked into it. . .the random conversation with a fellow traveller while out on a ride, and it always goes something like this:

(mid-afternoon: it's raining and 45 degrees, with an Arctic wind)

rider A:"Beautiful day for a ride."
rider B:"Yeah, sure is. I got off to a late start though. I've only been out for 41/2 hours."
A:"I know what you mean. I had to hand-auger twenty fencepost holes this morning after babysitting the octuplets. I'll be lucky to get over to the coast and back. . .again."
B:"No shit. At least all you have to do is babysit. My kids are always getting into trouble when I'm carrying the re-bar for the velodrome I'm building around my house. I could only manage 200 bags of quickcrete today!"

(turning into a vicious headwind)

A(while up shifting):"Thank goodness I'm only building my base now. I gotta stay in my my zone numero two-oh. I haven't ridden in six weeks."
B(shaking head, getting out of the saddle):"What are zones?"
A:"Good one."
B:"Seriously, nothing like a nice easy 200k to break the legs in. Since my back surgery I've had to take it easy."
B:"GLASS! wait, no, POTHOLE!"
B:"Back at cha'"
A:"Thank goodness I brought Duct tape today. After that school bus clipped me, I didn't know what to do with two broken collar bones. What are you training for?"
B:"Oh I don't race (big ringing it)"
A:"Me neither (sprinting), it's all about the. . .ri. . . .de. . ."
B:"Ex. . .ach, ach, ach. . .t. . ly. . ."
A:"Damn lights."
B:"I curse this intersection."
A:"I was just getting into a rhythm."
B:"I can't afford a ticket though."
A:"We gotta wait."
B:"What's your name?"
A:"Ferdi Juliper. Yours?"
B:"Felice Ghirotto."

(third rider approaches)

C:"Nice day for a ride, eh?"
A/B:"Sorry/What's that?"
C:"Green light." (third rider sprints off and rapidly fades into distance.) "Ciao."
A:"Probably in a hurry for his fattacinno."
B:"Fenders; like its wet today."
B:"Well I gotta run if I'm going to get my hill-repeats in."
A:"Yeah, me too or I'll only get a couple of hours of motor pacing in tonight."
A:"2 my momma!"

(if it's sunny and warm: mid-afternoon)

A:"This is why we do it."
B:"What it is all about."
A:"Where ya headed?"
B:"Oh, I'm headed home"
A:"Me too. It was a little chilly when the sun came up but it's warmed up nicely."
B:"Yeah just a tad crisp. Where's Home?"
A:"Paso Robles. You?"
B:"Santa Rosa. Enjoy the tail-wind."
A:"Tailwind is earned at 45."
B:"That's what my youngest says. Have a great ride."

(both riders make a u-turn in opposite directions)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paging Dr. Heiden

Among his numerous accomplishments, Eric Heiden's record of sub 15' up Old La Honda Rd. must rank as his greatest. Tour de France rider, US Pro Road Champion, five-time gold medal winner, promoter of Slurpee's and burritos in a bag, and, oh yes, Stanford Medical School graduate and acclaimed doctor of orthopedic surgery, Heiden's relentless ascent of this local mur is legend.

What is rarely mentioned when bay area locals contemplate the enormity of this athletic accomplishment is that Heiden routinely posted sub 15' climbs on his commute to and from Stanford because he lived at the top of the road in a small hut made of Belgian cobblestones he built himself, carrying the stones on his back along with 48lbs of medical reference books, and his supply of raw potatoes that Jim Ochowicz allowed as a diet. His times would grow slightly if a coed was riding on his handlebars for one of his infamous all night tutoring sessions. I can almost hear him humming along to Mr. Mister on his Walkman!

Like most road cyclists of the Golden Era, and "student-racers" in particular, Heiden employed some common hill-climbing equipment adjustments on his campus Huffy: removing the inner chain ring and front derailleur being the most practical as the 55 proved to be adequate with a straight block for his massive 52" thighs, carrying only one lead-filled bidon, and of course, Specialized Turbo-S clincher tires with latex tubes mounted to 36 hole 3X (tied and soldered) Mavic MA2s. Heiden's achievement is focused when its remembered that Old La Honda Rd. wasn't paved until 2002, and he had to carry a shotgun for protection from the numerous Grizzly Bears and Portola Valley Pumas that inhabited the area. On campus he was known as Eric Stouffer and Grizzly Heiden for the beard and skins he preferred to wool and lycra.

I once witnessed Heiden lap a collegiate criterium field on his way to the campus library while captaining a tandem beach cruiser... the Stanford Tree laying back, trunk on handlebar, in the stokers seat!

Sure, George Hincapie can climb OLH close to Heiden's mark while talking on his cellphone, but George's bike wasn't cast from wrought iron like Eric's, and it should be pointed out that Eric Heiden had to ride into a head wind his entire career and that he preferred a measure of brake block rub to settle his frame upon corner exit under power (that's a free tip for uphill cornering Mr. Menchov). All cyclists can learn from the achievements of our fellow warriors, and I for one have taken Eric Heiden's to heart:

Go to a hospital!