Bad Influences

Hello there. Sorry for the long delay between posts. I’d like to say I was on Velogear special assignment, traveling Europe and taking in the Giro. In truth, I was out of bourbon.

But my stock has been replenished, so all is well.

During the hiatus, word came down of a new Strava land-speed record set in Omaha … on the rec path. The rec path that’s frequented by nice old guys who wave at me every morning on my ride into work, oblivious citizens with iPods, older ladies walking little rat-dogs and rollerbladers. The average speed for the five-mile section, which has many curves and underpasses, and is normally subject to very heavy use: 28-plus mph.

That’s the average speed. When you’re doing even 20 there, it feels like you’re going really fast. I can’t even imagine how fast this person had to be going through the blind curves to end with a 28mph average.

If you’re not familiar, Strava is a ride-mapping app/website that uses GPS data to establish leaders for certain sections of local routes. Your local climb now has a KOM leader (and it’s probably not you). Your local TT strip now has a speed king (again, probably not you — but keep on trying). (We have Garmin GPS computers here, by the way.)

On the surface, Strava combines two things I love: technology and the pursuit of speed. In my past life, I was a technology reporter for a good-sized newspaper. And I spend far too much time trying to go fast.

Who doesn’t love going fast? And who doesn’t love cool technology? I’ll tell you who: those grouchy old guys who say, “I’m doing just fine on my steel frame and six-speed-rear freewheel.” They might actually be doing just fine, but they’re a drag to listen to after a while.

But underneath it all, technology and going fast are two things that I sometimes don’t like. Usually it’s when those two are combined with an inappropriate situation — like drilling it on the rec trail, for example. Or announcing your wattage on a chill ride or after a big hill.

With awesome technology comes awesome responsibility. As ridiculous as that local rec-trail record is, most everybody who rides regularly here wouldn’t want anything to do with it. Chase the climbs, chase the descents, drill it on the open flats — yes, absolutely.

Let’s leave the rec trail to the regular folks. We don’t need any rat-dogs sliced in half due to your attempt at a record.

A triathlon question
Though I’ve done my share of running (and I’m kinda good at it), and I’ve done my share of riding (I’m moderately good at it), I have no desire to add swimming (at which I’d be no good at all) and become a triathlete.

Still, though, I have plenty of friends who chased the multi-sport bug and had decent success. I can tell they’re doing really well because my Facebook feed is full of knee-high-recovery-socks-in-public-wearing people who have medals around their necks. And they look really tired all the time.

While I get the basic idea behind all things triathlon, there’s one thing I do not get: photography. Is it a requirement for triathletes to take group pictures every time they gather? My buddy was tagged in a group picture after a group ride. And in another before and after a group run. (Group runs? People do that?) And there’s another at breakfast. Another before and after an event. And … wait, is that another group photo from that first group ride?

Why so many group pictures, triathletes? Is it a “pictures, or your training didn’t happen” thing? Is it to show off your legs? (Yes, you have nice legs.) Seriously, somebody fill me in here.

A Lance story
So Lance Armstrong is in all sorts of deep business at this point. You could argue he’s been in plenty of deep business over the past 15 years or so. Regardless, innocent or guilty, he has had a HUGE impact on cycling in the US. I think that’s the part that people don’t realize (or remember) in all of this.

Armstrong is the reason I started riding bikes to begin with — and I know I’m not alone. Not because I wanted to be like him, but because it made cycling fun to follow. Can he win another one? Can Jan Ullrich (or Ivan Basso) finally beat him? Armstrong, in 2005, made cycling interesting to a non-cyclist. Now, years later, here I am.

If you can’t decide whether that’s a good or bad thing, I don’t blame you. And if you’re not a big fan of Armstrong, I don’t blame you for that, either. But I’m glad to have watched him in his prime, regardless of how he got there.

One Comment to “Bad Influences”

  1. velosurance 20 June 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    The whole story with Armstrong is quiet disappointing. I used to look up to him and he was one of the reasons I took cycling as a hobby which I am still doing and never had to regret.

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