Thursday, May 15, 2014

Things are getting bigger. Things are getting smaller.

One thing you can pretty much count on about America and Americans is that We The People like big stuff.  
Case in point: 29ers.  
Case also in point: long travel 29ers.  
Case in point that also happens to be a case: my new pop tart carrying case.

you can put 2,500 calories in this, wrapper free.  
 And the gigantic goddamn supply of Pop Tarts that have arrived in my kitchen just in time for the Giro.

Yeah, we like our stuff big.   In a lot of ways, size is a sort of comfort for us.  A huge SUV affords us a level of protection that a mini cooper does not.  So we can more easily pilot down a 10 lane highway in terrible traffic using only our knees, with our six kids in the back, because in one hand we're holding a Venti Soy Latte and in the other a smart phone more powerful than what got our Astronauts to the moon, which was pretty big too.  Like it or not, we're a size-matters culture.

I don't disagree with this.  I subscribe to it wholeheartedly, in fact.  In unfamiliar territory, at night, possibly a little lost, it's nice to have a dude the size of C-ham to help navigate or to run over menacing, feral pets.  He is like the Chevy Suburban of night riding.

And long travel 29ers are, quite frankly, the shit these days.  

But, in real contrast to the mainstream American way, if you want to climb atop the box, it's the small things that you need to seek.  A lower number on your race bib.  Less time on the course.  Fitting into smaller shorts.  Weight loss in the winter months.  Tiny meals.  Narrow tires.  Rigidity.  1 gear, it turns out.  The details.   These are the things that begin to matter when you seek fame and fortune at the front of the race.  

There's a small handful of people with the talent and work ethic to really call themselves "hopeful."  They dream of the Olympics, pro careers, a life spent training and racing, at least for a little while.  I love those people and their quest for fame and glory. When you live for the applause, applause, applause, it's the low numbers that count.

For the rest of us, it's the opposite. I'm just trying not to get booed, squeezing in a two-hour night ride here and there, trying to stay sane enough not to go berserk and blow up the mall.

So where Quadsworth wants fame, I'm actually trying to avoid infamy of the wrong kind.

But - and this is a long way around to my point - here's what makes us the same, and it's at the heart of what makes racing bikes so perfect and different than most other sports:

The guy that finished Cohutta in 14 hours had exactly the same amount of fun as the guy that finished in 7.  It's simple math.  Add it up.  Both of them got to shred Tsali.  Both of them hurt going up potato patch.  Both of them crossed the finish line and felt the glory.  They are remarkably different people doing the exact same thing in different ways and getting the same result.  Fascinating.

Whether it's the big or the small that you seek (and it does take some time to discover which one you really are) you're going to come away happy, smiling huge, sunshine reflecting off your dirt-flecked teeth, understanding that what you did is, 100%, totally worth it.

Up, up, up.

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