Monday, December 28, 2009

May The Force be with you!

Christmas brought some snow to Columbia, which, despite impeding my personal cycling habits, is still not necessarily an unwelcome site to my northener eyes.  Missouri winter weather also seems to have pleased Mr. Paul Mazan of Rocheport who recently wrote into the Columbia Tribune:

"Where have all the sunshine patriots gone who were going to free us from dependence on imported oil, reduce their carbon footprint end global warming and clean up our air?  Surely these people whom the city, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to make a "special class" of citizens, immune from being yelled at, honked at or roundly cursed, haven't abandoned their holier-than-thou attitude and taken to their automobiles to avoid the discomfort of riding in the rain and freezing weather!"

Not that I have any allusion that Mr. Mazan reads this blog, but should he somehow stumble upon it, I want him to rest assured that I, for one, have not abandoned my "holier-than-thou" attitude that my "special class" status has afforded me.  It is this power, and occasionally only this, that truly allows me to deflect the jeers, and curses of individuals like him while on my bike, rather than the appreciated, but largely ceremonial, anti-harassment ordinance.

But as much as Mr. Mazan wishes to convince us of his distaste for fair-weather cyclists, and perhaps cycling itself, his name betrays the possible rich cycling heritage that may run deep in his blood.  If my geneaology serves me correctly, the name Mazan, is French in origin and is shared by a town in the Vaucluse department (or region) of France whose most notable landmark is Mont Ventoux, one of the most famous road cycling mountain climbs in all of France.  Here's a picture of Marco Pantani winning the stage atop Ventoux in front of Lance Armstrong wearing the maillot jaune in 2000.

But Monsieur Mazan knows all of this already and is just being cheeky with us, methinks.  But speaking of "holy attitudes" and "special classes," I recently noticed some other writings of special cycling cults with mysterious powers while perusing a page on that reviewed the history of the fixed gear bike.  As part of the article, the author makes specific mention of some of the standard features on today's fixie:

"Most fixed gear bikes do not feature breaks...."

I'm guessing this fixie cyclist, who videotaped himself attempting a brakeless skid stop, would disagree with that statement.

I'm obviously giving the folks at the 'business' for misspelling 'brakes' as 'breaks'. This really isn't fair of me at all since it detracts from the impact of the following statements the author makes regarding the use of brakes on fixed-gear bikes.

"In fact, riding without brakes has developed an almost cult status in certain places.  This is due to the perception by some riders that brakes are not needed when riding with intense concentration."

Are we to surmise from this that by simply concentrating on slowing and stopping, some fixie riders may will themselves to do so, as though they have The Force?  And that by executing said Force-like powers, they may find themselves achieving admission into a special cult?  Perhaps this explains why Andy Schleck crashed his bike into a car that crossed in front of him on Saturday, while heading out for a training ride.  Andy was quoted as saying,

"A car crossed in my path and pulled right across me.  I couldn't avoid the crash.  I didn't have the speed on but I couldn't avoid it."

Clearly, this was a case of him not concentrating intensely enough.  Even though he didn't have "the speed on", he also obviously didn't have his 'Yoda' on.  But this isn't that surprising, really.  When you take the time to look at some photos of Andy, he frequently looks rather confused and dare I say, unfocused.

Here, in two photos, we can see Andy disoriented and reaching out with his right hand, elbow flexed, palm askew, confusedly questioning the direction in which he is supposed to go.  This is not the sort of Force-like intense concentration that is required should he wish to be able to mentally command his bike to slow or even stop.  Why, even this young Jedi-in-training knows how to direct the Force as seen in the advertisments for the new toy called the Star Wars Force Trainer which supposedly trains concentration.

Andy, take note:  The elbow is extended and the palm faces downward.  The mouth is not agape, but rather the lips are pursed. 

I just ordered my own Force Trainer, because I want to see if it can teach me some mad Jedi Force skilz to help me levitate my bike over the snow drifts...

Pedal on!

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