Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The physics of being Big Foot

Yesterday I was emailed no less than 10 times the story of the dude in South Africa who got creamed by the galloping antelope during a mountain bike race - and if you are one of the individuals who sent me the link, thank you.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go see it here.  Sorry - couldn't resist.  No seriously - you can see it here.  And quite literally - as I wrote the last sentence, I just got an email from my father that reads,

From: Dad PooBah
To: Baby PooBah
Cc: Mom PooBah
Subject:  When Animals Say "Get Offa My Grass!"

Careful where you do some of those Cyclocross race things....

To which I need to respond, "Thanks, Dad."  If only flying antelopes were my only concern during a cyclocross race, I might actually stand a chance of performing half-way decently.  No, the bane of my cyclocross existence comes in many other forms, but mostly inertia.  You see, I possess something called mass.  "Sure," you might say, "we all possess mass!"  And to this I would reply, "No - you dont get it.  I have a lot of it." defines mass as "a body of coherent matter, usually of indefinite shape and often of considerable size: example - a mass of dough."  An ill-defined, large mass of dough indeed.  And much like the aforementioned antelope, once I get my poorly defined, immense doughy mass up and moving in a specific direction, I seem to have great difficulty decelerating and altering its direction - especially when that direction is 180 degrees from whence the doughy mass originated.  This difficulty I'm experiencing is due to inertia which can be defined as "the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest." 

These terms can be understood better by this formula:

F = ma

In this equation, F = force, m = mass (in my case, dough-like and considerable) and a = acceleration.  By this formula, it is clear that the greater an object's mass, the less acceleration (or deceleration) is possible under a given force.  Let's look at this concept using a real-life example:  If you are, say, 5'4" and weigh 135 lbs and are racing cyclocross, for a given force, you will be able to decelerate more rapidly and make a 180 hairpin turn easier than if you are, say, Sasquatch.

By the way - this isn't any ordinary Sasquatch in the example - this is an old Sasquatch with achy knees.  (Incidentally - in case you'd like to purchase the official 'Sasquatch on bicycle t-shirt'.....go here.....they are all the rage.)
They even come in sizes up to 3XL....that's what I'm talking about.

Such mass also makes manuevers like this completely out of the question.
photo courtesy of 20#skull.

And don't give me that shit that Ryan Trebon is 6'1".  The SOB weighs like 170 pounds soaking wet.  He's a fart in a wind storm compared to me.

Here's a stone-cold dose of reality that hit me as hard as the sudden cold rain did while doing intervals on the KT trail Monday night in the pitch blackness because I didn't get home from work until 6:30 when the sun was sinking low and the clouds were building up.  As I cruised down the trail, rain smeared down my headlight casting weird shadows on the trail.  But up ahead, in the distance, I saw something dangling from one of the overhanging trees.  It's quarter-sized, lumpy shape became increasingly illuminated by my light as I approached and I realized it was a fat-ass spider dangling from a web, and I was approaching it a very rapid pace.  No worries, I thought, I will slide right under him.  The instant his plump hairy body smacked me in the cheek, it all became clear:  For years, I've watched and admired cyclists....their small-framed, lithe forms dancing on pedals and whipping tightly around corners fast as a lifeguard spins a whistle tied to a length of string wrapped around his finger.  And all this time, in my head, I've felt just like them.....quick and small......small enough to slide under that juicy spider....small enough to try to conserve energy hiding in a pack of cyclists....small enough to be fast.  Cyclocross has reminded me of just what a Sasquatch I really am.   And despite flat tires, and busting through barrier tape and inertial drag, God-dammit, I'm digging it.


  1. Thanks for the post ole' Poobah who resembles Squatch with bad knees.

    I know many folks are impressed or possibly shocked by the apparent novelness of a deer like creature knocking the crap out of cyclist.

    The thing is...... it's not novel at all. Jim McDonald woke up in a ditch after after having the crap knocked out of him by a deer as he was cruising 45mph down Easily Hill (he was ok-ish, bike destroyed), John Patton, Boone County’s legal counsel was killed by deer while on his moped, and I believe Todd Shapiro was knocked from his bike by a deer while commuting, I've had one extremely close call (literally within an inch), and last year's Froze Toes had a herd of deer run through a cat 4 bike race. One deer literally leaped over a cyclist!

    Could this be pay back for deer hunting?

  2. I'm feeling ya Poobah. Just go to a bike race and you are the biggest one there then go to Wal-Mart and you are the skinniest one there(not counting the folks on meth)