Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Emergence of the Spandex Warriors

You've heard of the 11-year locust, right? It stays hidden out of sight for years at a time, and then once the conditions are right, a whole bunch of them emerge in a frenzy of activity for a few days, lay eggs, and then die off and disappear.
Sometimes I feel like we have a similar phenomenon on the bikeways of Austin. Through the winter months there are a few hardy souls pedaling with sweaty backs and frozen fingertips to and from work, and through the summer months we same few bring two extra shirts along with us to stay dry and partake of the three-shower day.
Then for a few short weeks, the weather is nice in April and in October, the spandex warriors emerge, and Shoal Creek Boulevard is crowded with folks in spandex and bright jerseys riding $$$$ bikes. Sometimes they're in big packs even. Some are very fast and some are slow. Although you may think you detect scorn in my tone, I am truly thankful for these folks, and here's why:
Nothing motivates me to ride fast like a spandex warrior, and this is definitely a good thing. My usual pace is something around 20-22 kph, if I'm just pushing easy and not in any particular hurry. I'm not normally motivated to do sprints on my own just for the workout. However, when I pull up next to a carbon fiber bike at a traffic light, it's impossible for me to avoid a sprint to stay up with the guy. It's hardwired somewhere in the Y-chromosome, and the more duded up he is and the less flashy I am, the better. Usually, when sucked into a friendly unofficial race with said spandex warrior, I find my speed is up near 30-35kph. Granted I'm a melted puddle by the time I get home, and he's still got 30 km left on his joy ride, but I sure showed him that the clothes and bike don't make the rider...
Right. Will you just listen to me? Is this pathetic or what!? I'll stop the introspection here and continue to enjoy the all-too-brief season of friendly races (all in my head, I'm sure) until the weather moves into three-shower-day season, and the roads clear up again, and I'm left alone with my thoughts on the road.
Thanks for reading, and please comment if you either identify with this or this I'm crazy.

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