- Why does a September issue arrive in mid-August? Is this a time-space continuum problem? If Doc Brown finds that I'm reading it, will he start ranting about how careless flux capaciting could inflict Marty with Parkinson's?
"Great Scott!" "No, I think that's a Trek, Doc."
- Why are there all of these ads for cars? I could understand it if they were the kinds of cars that we might put bike racks on to drive somewhere and ride, but a Cadillac CTS Sports Sedan? Really?
- And then, finally, the ultimate question: Why am I so fat?
OK, mom doesn't really talk like that. She was born in central Florida 80 years ago, so she talks like most Southern women. She used to cook like most Southern women, too, but my dad's cholesterol cured her of that back in the 70's. She does tell me that I'm too skinny, but she's also the one that told me about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Liar!
Anyway, I usually have to explain (to non-cyclists like my mom ... just kidding about the "liar" thing there, mom) that there are three kinds of weight when it comes to cycling:
- Thin This is what most recreational cyclists are. Clothes look good on you, and the doctor only says "You could lose a few pounds" during your check-ups because if he didn't give you some kind of advice, how could he (in good conscience) bill your insurance company?
- Thin riders can generally ride a club century at a comfortable pace, but don't win any KOM points on the long hills. They watch what they eat, but are not obsessed with it. For example, they can go to McDonald's and get a Big Mac with fries, but will only Super-Size it if they rode at least a metric that morning.
- Skinny These are the guys that stay with the faster packs on the tough climb Tuesday night, and may even be the first over the hill if no Climbers show up (see below). They look good in their team kit, and the doctor usually sends them in for a bone-density scan, rather than telling them to lose weight (Hey, he's just doing his job!).
- Skinny riders have a meal plan. They know the glycogen index of everything that they eat, and know what it's going to do to their bodies. ("These beets will help break down that lactic acid from my morning workout.") They still, although rarely, consider how a thing "tastes." For example, a Skinny rider may actually eat a piece of bacon.
- Climber This is the guy who's always over the hill first Tuesday night. He's often seen sitting and spinning along next to the Skinny guys, who are churning their way up that hill, until about 30 yards from the top, when he seems to get bored and -- zoom! -- zips up and over.
- Climbers are usually fast on the descent, too (damn them!). It's because they have no frontal surface area. Wind curves around them as if they were a wing ... a very, very thin wing.
- Depending upon the guy (or girl -- we all know a few Climber women), your only chance to hang with the Climber is on the flat roads ... but don't count on it. Many Climbers are all leg muscle, and can even sprint. These are the ones we call "Pros" or "Cat 2s" or "bastards" (but in an admiring way ... honest).
- Climbers look good in kit, but not in swimsuits. Vestigial arms -- where the brachial artery is larger than the biceps -- are not what the chicks on the beach are looking for. In street clothes they look like extras from "Schindler's List" ... on a long day when the catering wagon never showed up.
- I've heard reports of climbers who "binge and purge." I think they just purge.
Anyway, back to Bicycling Magazine ...
Every month, there's at least one article telling me how to burn off those last five pounds, get a stronger core, clear up my skin, and have a digestive system so regular that the world could replace the atomic clock with my toilet. The past few months, they've been running pieces about cycling chefs from around the world -- where they ride and who they cook for -- plus a recipe that will give you lasting power at the next criterium, assuming that you have five hours to cook it and can stomach the taste of risotto in hummus.
The cover of Bicycling Magazine almost always features a super-lean cyclist, on a very clean brand-new bike, wearing a pristine kit that fits him or her like it was made for him or her (okay, yeah, it probably was), riding in perfect weather over absolutely gorgeous terrain. Next to it is this command:
Get LEAN Now
The message could not be clearer: If you were this thin, you would look like this in your cycling clothes, and you'd be able to afford this bike, and you'd keep it this clean (you could wash it rather than waste time eating), and you would be able to get out on days like this and ride in countryside like this. You just have to ...
Get LEAN Now (the "loser" is implied.)