Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dropping the hammer: A tale of two temperatures.

I'm aware that some of you out there may not live in Columbia, Missouri (midwestern Mecca of the bicycle), so I thought I would update those non-COMO residents with a few things we here in mid-Missouri are dealing with.  First, the current weather situation.

If you follow the green arrow to its tip, you will see a rough estimation of current wind chill factors for COMO.  Makes for some tough cycling to be sure.  But does it?  Standardly, if one braved this weather on their bike, say, to commute into work for example, it was only a subjective guess of how 'epic' the ride really was...or how much 'suffering' truly was incurred when one was bragging about said ride with their office mates around the proverbial water cooler.  But this problem has now been solved by a handy chart provided by the good folks at cyclocosm.com which allows you to calculate, and thus objectively determine your cycling commitment and level of suffering in cold weather taking into account both sustained wind speed and temperature.  The weather conditions are stratified into "Jens Factor" units and range from 1 to HC (hors categorie).

For your benefit, I calculated what the Jens Factor would be if you rode in to work this morning and marked it on the chart with a green 'X'.  We are definitely in the midst of Jens Factor HC territory which states:
Overview - suicidal heroism.  Apparel required:  Spacesuit.  Conditions: Apocalyptic, biblical, hardcore.

Secondly, non-COMO residents may also be unfamiliar with the regular column in the Columbia Tribune newspaper called 'Trib Talk' which allows COMO citizens to rant and rave about whatever they like.  On Sunday, Tribune editor Jim Robertson assembled the best-of-the-best Trib Talk comments for 2009, and  not surprisingly, many had to do with cyclists.

May 2:  "Do we have two diametrically opposed ideas going on here? We've got $23 million or whatever for the pedal group, and now we've got a $15 million parking ramp going up for cars.  Now, which do you want? Do you want me to ride my bike or drive my car, or should I just do both?

July 30: "I am tired of all this ranting and raving about bicyclists when it's pedestrians who are the real problem.  Nothing gets on my nerves more than when I'm driving downtown and have to wait for some gawking walker yakking into a cell phone and dawdling across the crosswalk when I have places to go.  Even families, no doubt groggy from a heavy meal of macaroni and cheese and hamburgers, can't get the lead out and get across the dang street.  Don't they see my signal?  It's even worse when you're two cars back and some tramp slows to a crawl while scoping Elly's Couture at 100 yards and you know you're not going to get through the light.  Don't get me started on the handicapped.  Don't they have buses to take those people where they need to go?"

Nov 18: "I have a question.  Us drivers can't honk at bike riders, we can't honk at pedestrians or grandmas in wheelchairs.  Can I honk at a deer looming at my headlights when driving?"

The last one I've chosen for you today has absolutely nothing to do with cycling.  I just couldn't resist.

April 24:  "This is for all you anti-gun, bleeding-heart liberal Democrats: I don't know about gun lovers, but mine is for self-preservation, be it human or animal.  I'm not going to be a statistic for anyone.  Six things I believe in:  I'm a Christian, I'm an American, I'm heterosexual, I'm pro-gun and I'm a conservative.  When the hammer drops, the bullshit stops.  Any questions?"

To which Robertson replies:  "That's five things."

So what are we to learn from this?  If these comments represent the sentiments of the average COMO citizen then people here seem to be generally frustrated that they (in order)
1) do not have access to parking ramps for their bikes,
2) are not allowed to run over the handicapped with their cars
3) are unclear about the civil rights of Cervidae
4) are having difficulties counting to six

That said, they do appear to be quite certain that when the proverbial hammer drops, the bullshit, indeed will stop.  Speaking of dropping the hammer and then stopping to shit, I thought it was time for a Lance update.  Aside from getting to winter train in Hawai'i (which, incidentally, has a Jens Factor of minus 10), one of the many other perks of being Lance Armstrong is that you have access to state of the art equipment in virtually every area of cycling.  Take for example a new direction of physiologic monitoring that he and Allen Lim are exploring involving the regular examination of his core body temperature.  Now if either you or I or members of say, Team Astana, wanted to monitor our body temperature during training, we'd be forced to go old-school and pop a thermometer under our tongue - or maybe use one of those ear probes.  Not Lance.  Lance is going inside on this job by swallowing a sensor in pill-form which will travel deep into his intestines and send back the vital data to a receiver.  Here's Lance about to pop the pill.

But the pill is only as good as the receiver reading the results, so they called in exercise physiologist, Dr. Stacy Sims to do the honors.  Now, one would think that with all of this fancy technology, the data would be able to be uploaded to a satellite and  fired around the planet so they could read the results back at RadioShack headquarters on the mainland.  Not so, and in fact, poor Dr. Sims still has to go backside.

Ok, so maybe she didn't have to go all the way backside, but still....

So I'm left with two questions...
First - Does another PhD have to fish the little pill out of the toilet when it's made its way through LA? Second - If the little pill had a camera on it - what would it reveal inside LA's stomach?  Perhaps a tiny, half-digested action figure of AC that Lance uses like a dog's chew toy for inspiration?

And out of curiosity, I contacted the people at Cyclocosm.com who have provided me with the information for training in Hawai'i at a Jens Factor of minus 10:  Overview: Sheer delight.  Apparel:  Board shorts or bikini, flip flops.  Conditions: Chance of warm, sunny day=95% - don't forget your sunglasses.

The boys over at Team Sky are also dropping the hammer on some new technology of their own which they revealed yesterday at the team launch party.  For 2010, they will be testing an alternative to current bicycle helmets.  It comes in the form of a new kind of hair shellac which forms their own hair into a protective shell, stronger than currently produced bicycle helmets, thus obviating their use entirely.  Here's a picture of Wiggins, Lovkvist and Boasson Hagen demonstrating them at the party, courtesy of Cyclingnews.

Stay warm everyone...

Pedal on!

1 comment:

  1. Love the Contador chew toy. I'm sure there's one floating around in Lance's intestines somewhere...not that anyone wants to know what's going on in there.