Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weekend at Burnies

Like blacking out at a raging party and slowly recovering details bit by bit of the night before, the Philadelphia Pro race has slowly revealed itself over the last month. Because chronology, like blacking out, is overrated, I've decided to make mention of the events- no matter how tardy.

In following climatic patterns (which as any sort of outdoorsy type you must), it is worth pointing out that in the Northeastern U.S., for the entire months of May and June, it rained most every day. It was a season of stifled riding plans, or when one dared venture out; of constant drive train cleaning, chain lubing, and dirt-stripe having. (Dirt stripes are when the rear wheel kicks up water and mud on your rear in a stripe, often resembling a skunk pelt).

However, for the big race weekend, the stars and prevailing winds and asteroid belts aligned to provide two consecutive days of sunshine. This, along with the race festivities, made for double the reason to celebrate. As the race goes on for hours upon hours, it is customary in Philadelphia to scout out a prime picnic spot early in the morning to set up the traditional array of alcoholic beverages, food, shade tents, grills, and dogs. This is to ensure that everyone is entertained in the 12 minute windows of waiting for the peloton go by again.

This year I joined the masses setting up camp on Lemon Hill, a shady park that borders one of the few hills the cyclists must climb. The hill becomes infested with members from all factions, sects, and denominations of cyclist.

After the race was over, the park slowly emptied out- as all food and drink must be consumed before departing. Apparently during this time, some people are so inspired/intoxicated that they decide they must partake in some of the glory for themselves. It so happened that a group of khaki-clad young men decided to challenge my boyfriend and some other young male friends of mine- unbeknownst to Them, a group of accomplished racers- to a sprint race up the hill; the prize being a case of beer, their female partners honor, and reaffirmed manliness. It was a classic tale of Us VS. Them, and while team Them did show impressive facial expressions, team Us dominated the podium.

With my honor secured, it was time to cool off. At this point of the day, the mature adults of team Us, along with myself, wrestled in a public water fountain for a few hours before going home to nurse the weekend's accrued sunburns.

Happy riding.
(Race photos by A. Rodzinski and Zack D.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Party Time

The life of a serious dedicated amateur recreational cyclist is rife with social obligations. If there is anything that cyclists enjoy more than riding, it is talking about cycling with others who ride. The third and fourth things that cyclists like most are eating food and drinking alcohol. The fifth, sixth and seventh-place activities that cyclists enjoy most involve various combinations of entertainment media, reproductive organs, and illicit substances (cyclists love to eat mushrooms and listen to NPR while getting their bikini-lines waxed).

Tonight I will be partaking in a social event involving only items 1-4. Many teams, representatives, and supporting others of the "industry" are descending upon Philadelphia this weekend as there will be a giant Pro race held here this Sunday. Because of my prominence, eminence, and success in the cycling industry in the area, I have been invited to attend a super exclusive party tonight.

In celebration and anticipation of the race, Bicycle Therapy will be hosting Team Ouch including but likely not in attendance Floyd Landis. Aside from the fact that I work at this shop and thus was invited by default, and that the party is completely open to whomever feels like dropping in, I'm honored and flattered to attend. Plus, it means I get out of work two hours early tonight.

Bring on the Pros!

Happy Riding.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pour Les Filles!

Bicycles, as contraptions, are liberating. As transportation, they free folks from the binds of bus or subway schedules, oft obviate automotive obligations, and exempt those from the worthlessness of walking. Bicycles, as sporting good devices for cycling, may also be such. Riding alone may be from necessity or prerogative, and can be every bit as cardiovascularly challenging as riding with others. Sometimes, a long solitary ride can be relaxing, and possibly even therapeutic. Most times however, riding alone is horribly boring, dangerous, and regarded as to be avoided at all costs.

This is where the need for riding partners comes in. Fortunately for me, I work at a shop which has employed many like-minded and enthusiastic cyclists. Unfortunately for them however, I am much slower, less fit, and smell worse than them; which is another reason I end up riding in the back a lot. Also lending to why I'm a bit slower is the fact that I happen to be female. There are many incredibly strong and fast women out there, I am simply not one of them (yet).

It is difficult to convince non-cyclists to invest mountains of money into a play toy that forces them to both wear Lycra and exercise, as they could take up modest-appareled sports like jogging or play toys like Wii Fit for much less money and commitment. Typically one avoids the process of conversion altogether and instead seeks to find like-minded and/or similarly fit cyclists with which to ride.

A major exception to the conversion rule is in the case of romantic partners. As cycling tends to be an obsessive and hugely time-consuming endeavor, riding together can serve as a way of spending time with the loved one (the bike) and the boy/girlfriend at the same time. Cycling is hopelessly male dominated, and having the sport introduced with patience and understanding by a loved one can foster a real passion and devotion. Unfortunately many male cyclists are competitive, infantile jerks who think nothing of becoming frustrated at or completely dropping their novice girlfriends on rides, which only further intimidates and alienates them from the sport.

Thankfully I do not speak from experience, as I have the good fortune of not being romantically attached to a turd. Yet many other female potential cyclists are not afforded this luxury, and hence are put off and delay serious riding or training. Usually I employ a system of apathy in regards to the goings-on of others, but this directly affects me because finding like-minded women to ride with on a continual basis has proven difficult. So along with prodding, pressuring, and demanding that all my male cyclist friends immediately purchase bikes and equipment for their partners so that I can have more women to ride with, I have decided to take the "Field of Dreams" approach in creating my very own women-only road ride.

The powers that be at Bicycle Therapy in Philadelphia have agreed to let me start up a women's ride from their shop every Saturday morning. It starts this Saturday, and will be every Saturday from now on, weather permitting. I have pre-ridden it multiple times, mapped the route, and spread the word. I have built it. I just hope they come.

Happy riding.