Friday, November 17, 2006

Been Riding Much?

How many times have you been in the bike shop and come across an old friend? And of those times, how many times were you asked "Been ridin' much?" A few weeks ago, I discovered a partial solution to the delusion. Where else? In another Scott Martin column. It started with the perennial question, "Been ridin' much?"

"As any true cyclist knows, the correct answer -- whether you logged 2 or 200 miles last week -- is: 'Nah, I haven't been riding much at all.' Remember to preface your response by rolling your eyes and grimacing."

Of course, no one will believe you. Yet "we're all such good liars." If that's indeed the case, there must be ways to ferret out the truth. Of course, Scott has outlined a few telltale markers for us:

1. Look for fancy, expensive gear.
"Anyone with big bucks can buy a fancy bike and a flashy jersey. Anyone with big bucks is probably working too much and riding too little." But if you spot torn handlebar tape and a worn saddle, you gotta figure there must be a reason. This guy or gal has been putting in the miles.
2. Don't be fooled by saddlebag size either.
"Y'ud think: the smaller the seatbag, the faster the rider. Caution: Some well-prepared riders (usually bike mechanics or ex-Boy Scouts) will stomp you even while toting three pounds of tools and parts." My guy Jim has proved this in the French Alps, where he hauled a small set of tools, sandwiches for six and a sweater up the Col du Galibier to watch the TdF come through.
3. Likewise, shaved legs may not indicate a strong rider.
"Many hairy gorillas roam the cycling jungle," warns Scott. I dunno. Just this past Labor Day weekend was I was dusted by a pair of shaved legs topped by a stubble face. Was that Jake Gyllenhaal doing his Lance thing?
4. A champion jersey is a true sign of a poseur.
Many a licensed racer (or former racer) is ready to spit wooden nickels when they spy a cyclist wearing a rainbow or California Republic jersey they didn't earn. The real pros only wear them for sanctioned events. So be warned next time you spot one on the sale rack at your LBS.
5. Absence of body fat.
Do you see deep smile lines when a new cycling acquaintance flashes a welcoming grin? Does a deep canyon appear on either side of her nose? "Be very afraid," warns Scott. "She has no body fat. And you have no hope.