We're all graded on the curve. Or, curves plural, to be precise.
Women, of course, are graded on the curves of their bodies. As a proud member of the mammal class, I very, very much applaud these curves.
Most men are graded on the curve of their biceps -- how else can you explain Governor Schwarzenegger? Fortunately, there are "leg" women who will always swoon for Fabian Cancellera's quads ... or whatever curves it is that those women find so pleasing.
Which is not to say that we should grade everyone based solely on looks. Back when I was single (okay, we're going waaay back in time here), I remember chatting up many a pretty girl just to find that ... well, they weren't that much fun to chat with. Lots of flowers are pretty, too, but if it just talks about how bitchy the petunias are or how this mulch makes her stamen look big, I'd rather not waste time sitting around talking to it.
My point, however, is that in cycling, we are ultimately graded by a critical curve: The gut.
Pro cyclists don't get fat ... at least, not while they're still racing. Jan Ullrich was infamous for gaining weight in the off-season, but six feet tall and 160 pounds would not qualify as "fat" by any normal standard. Jan had the power to make this weight work in most Tours, and usually dropped the extra kilos by the time the race hit the mountains. And it's mountains where pounds really count.
There aren't really a lot of mountains here in Florida. There are some bridges near the coast, and a few hills inland northwest of Orlando, but nothing that I have to worry about on my regular routes.
So, why am I concerned about my gut? Because I'm tired of doing the jersey tug.
You see, most of my riding clothing is from when I raced for Gran Fondo. Since I bought them to race in, they're nice and tight so they don't flap around in the wind. Although I have older, looser jerseys and plain old black bibs, at most rides I'm wearing full Gran Fondo kit.
When I was racing, I weighed as much as 10 pounds less than I do now. Thus, when I pull on a pair of shorts, they feel a little snug. The lettering gets somewhat stretched out, too, in a way that the sponsors would probably not have appreciated.
But the jersey is the big problem. I put it on, zip it up, and tug the bottom down a bit. I put my shoes and socks on, and tug the jersey back down. I pump up the tires, and tug the jersey down. I put on my helmet, gloves, and glasses, roll out of the garage, get on the road, and sit up to tug the jersey down.
My belly doesn't want to wear Gran Fondo kit any more. I'm not sure if it wants to race independent or not, but am reasonably certain that it would not do well. My belly needs a team around it -- or, to be more accurate, it needs Team Legs below it.
So, even though I'm not going to race much this season, my plan is to drop at least five pounds this month. That should get my jersey-tug-per-minute rate back down to single digits.
If I can't do this, I'll have to start wearing my Gran Fondo skinsuit. And nobody wants to see me overweight in a skinsuit.