Monday, August 25, 2008

Hot Shots: Part 1

I did it.
This past weekend I completed, albeit in my own special way, the randonée which I had been preparing for since the very beginning of the cruelest months of the year, summer. And if there is one lesson cycling continues to reinforce, it is to never underestimate my ability to greatly overestimate my abilities. And if this specific ride taught me anything, it's that I am incapable of reading maps while riding a bicycle, that "climbing hills" has variable meanings depending on your locale, but that I am capable of riding a bike while looking really, really good.

A week before the ride, I had a conversation with a fellow rider about the inherent vanity of cycling and indeed in all athletic endeavors. Like most conversations with living beings that aren't my dogs, I had no idea what exactly he meant, but I nodded on and even argued with conviction to reinforce my accordance. Later that night I decided that maybe it wasn't my equipment or lax training schedule slowing me down, but my lack of vanity. In order to better equip my exterior and assumably greatly enhance my performance, the very next morning I ventured out in search of the perfect kit. I trekked eight miles to the only cycling shop that would have anything worth purchasing apparel-wise: the little-known, homey hole-in-the-wall that is Cadence.

Why go such a distance for some flatlocked spandex? Well, athletic clothing manufacturers design women's gear with a quite narrow demographic in mind, and as far as I can tell that demographic happens to be 48-year-old kindergarten teachers. After being subjected to the masses of butterfly and/or flower-patterned pastel-pink or baby blue women's gear (typically complete with rampant overuse of italics), I simply cannot fathom anyone but a middle-aged schoolteacher with an entire room dedicated to her porcelain doll collection to be truly enticed.

So as to avoid dressing the way children's Tylenol is packaged, I opted to buy an entire cycling kit in the fastest-looking color ever: white. When I was the fat kid in gym class, I would walk briskly with my arms bent as they would be in a running position, sure that nobody would notice I wasn't actually running. While it may seem I have employed a similar strategy here in my pursuit of fast appearances, a critical difference is that this way I might still look good while going slow. And if there's another thing I learned about cycling, is that looking good while suffering is a success in itself.