Friday, July 20, 2007
The Yin and The Yang
“Life is the result of the struggle between dynamic opposites. When the pendulum swings in favor of one, it eventually swings in favor of its opposite. Thus the balance of the universe is maintained.”
- Fist of the Northstar
In the world of Kung Fu cinema a common thread binds nearly all tales: the world cannot exist without positive and negative influences working upon each other to maintain life's fragile balance. There is hard and soft, dark and light, good and evil, ad infinitum.
Thus, the cyclist has a polar opposite as well. Though the gluttonous, cheese doodle eating, pasty blob of bologna flesh that lays about home lethargically watching hours of television might seem the obvious culprit, it is not. The world is much more complex than simply balancing cyclists with the lazy slug picking the underwear out of his ass all day. No, the ruler of the natural world is a funny, twisted and sometimes cruel bitch. For she has sardonically counter weighted cyclists with the most freakishly inane beast of the sporting world: the triathlete.
The triathlete is the giant booger on the tip of the nose of every first date. The dingleberry that falls out of the cuff of your jeans and into your shoe. The square peg that insists on going into the round hole. Yes, they are all these things and more.
The triathlete shuns the time honored traditions and etiquette borne of pedigreed riders. Disregard for aesthetic is prevalent in both cycle and dress to an almost obscene level. They make their own rules that confound and annoy. It's kind of like if they say the wall is a door, they will repeatedly bash their head into the wall until it becomes a really big hole, and thus, a door.
While a strong majority of the general public inaccurately thinks bike lanes are for double parking, so too, they think the triathlete is somehow "cool". However, I am here to tell you that they most certainly are not. In fact, they are very uncool. For instance, take their fruity choices like riding with no socks. Or, the way they used to put Powerbars on their top tubes for future consumption. Does that sound cool to you? No. I didn't think so.
The other misconception, lo, the greatest misconception of the general public is that the triathlete is a cyclist. It is important to remember that even though they ride bikes, they are not cyclists. Road, mountain, cyclocross, bmx, and track riders know this. That's why when we hear that someone caused a major pile-up on the local group ride, the first question is "Was it a triathlete?"
So, in honor of all my cycling brethren out there I've prepared a simple guide to differentiating between us and them. Pass it on to your neighbors, post it on stop signs, or spray paint it on walls. Do whatever it takes to get the word out.
Cyclist: Carries his water bottles in cages mounted to the downtube and seatube of his frame. Camelbacks are often worn as a way of carrying more water or so the bottles don't get horse shit all over them from the trail.
Triathlete: Eschews sensible water bottle cage mounts for contraptions that crush their carbon seatposts so they can carry their water behind them for aerodynamic purposes. These aesthetic abominations are counter productive for 98.9% of the foogs that have them. Not only do they put them farther away from reach in their $200 aero tuck position, but they wobble all over the damn place trying to get the bottle back in the cage while they try to avoid the asshole in front of him trying to put his bottle back in the cage. Worse yet, are the gay aerobar bottles with the shlongy looking straw bouncing all over the place. No frat house imposes hazing that is more degrading than this self inflicted shit.
Cyclist: Makes use of all gears at their disposal to match terrain, weather, and riding situations.
Triathlete: Wrestle their aerobars like savages in a vain attempt to ride the 53x11 at all costs. In the bizarro world of the triathlete there is no such thing as a chainring smaller than a 53 nor a derailleur that is capable of shifting beyond the 12.
Cyclist: Well versed in cycling history. Knows the professional calendar of races and maintains an awareness of other cycling disciplines.
Triathlete: Perry Roobay? Who's he? Lost on the triathlete is the historical and real world significance of the bicycle. The triathlete's brain is wired to disregard anything bike related that can't be dangled off their handlebars or make them .00017 % faster in a 40km time trial. To them, cycling history is the Unidisc rear wheel cover they used in their first triathlon.
Cyclist: Reads magazines and books devoted to cycling lore, mechanics, physiology and photography.
Triathlete: Drools over TT helmet windtunnel statistics, Quintana Roo brochures, and Polar heart rate monitor owners manuals. If it doesn't have a shitload of cryptic graphs and numbers or showcase yet another dorky time shaving gadget, the triathlete isn't interested.
Cyclist: Mixes in days of easy, casual rides that serve as a reminder of what fun riding a bike can be.
Triathlete: Every second on the bike is devoted to training. If you're not riding hard, you're not training, therefore, you're not serious about the sport, and thus, not a real triathlete. The greatest fear of any triathlete is not being identified as one by the public. Therefore, they're in a perpetual state of hypertension. The intensity spills over into every aspect of daily life such as shopping, eating, driving, and shitting. Everything is done in a manic blur of measured convolution.
Cyclist: Maintains his bicycle with the knowledge that a clean, lubed, well tuned machine is the best guarantee of performance and success. They use the right tools for the job and ensure that everything from the chain to the cleats on their shoes are in good working order.
Triathlete: Surely the greatest irony of life is that of the triathlete's ineptitude with bicycle maintenance. For all the devotion to number crunching and brochure scouring, none of that acquired knowledge carries over to their ability to maintain a clean, working bicycle. Sure they've mortgaged away their life for the Taj Mahal of bicycles and equipment, but the fucking thing never shifts, brakes, spins, turns, or sounds like it should. This is because the triathlete only knows how to use one tool: the hammer. No matter what torque specs are given by any given company, the part is installed with all the grace of King Kong in a glass factory.
The triathlete also has a natural fear of lubricants and chemical cleaning solutions. The typical tri-bike wears a thick coat of syrup from energy drink concoctions, ego boosting numbers from past triathlons (I'm convinced triathlon organizers use impossible to remove number stickers as way to allow triathletes the excuse that it's "too hard to get off" so they can prove to everybody they race), and squeaks and cracks with every pedal stroke because their sweat has seized every part into a hopeless petri dish of fuzzy carbon fiber permanently welded to aluminum. When these monstrosities limp into bike shops, there is a collective shudder felt amongst mechanics around the world. Much like Yoda sensing the deaths of millions of innocent people.