Cycling: as annoying as Dr. Phil

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The weather is finally warming up here in Rhode Island. The trees are budding, the birds are chirping and, unavoidably, the bicyclists have hit the roads. It’s a phenomenon that affects every region of the country. Bright and early each Saturday morning, millions of weekend warriors dress up like hyper-flamboyant superheroes and pedal their enormous, overly efficient hearts out.

I became fascinated with this whole scene last year during the Tour de France. Everyday I would rush home, grab some snacks, turn on the television and watch eagerly for that Tour nonsense to be over. I would then flip to Dr. Phil and fume with such a roiling fury that I became blind to the value of life for three or four hours. A 10-minute soak in warm water finally got my clenched fists to loosen up. Keep talking, Phillip. My sword is sharp and my resolve is steadfast. Your reign of terror is coming to an end.

But anyway… biking…

You might think this biking column is ill-timed. It’s not that warm out yet, and the Tour is still months away. Well, my friend, when you’re as cool as I am, you simply live life by your own rules. Now put that in your Camelpak and smoke it.

When I talk about bikers, I obviously mean ‘bicycle riders’ and not ‘motorcycle riders,’ like those guys who can ride just well enough to get their spotless bikes to Thayer Street, where they park, stare shamelessly at underage girls and criticize people who are parallel parking.

“Yo, yo – just turn the wheel, no, yeah, just a little more – yo dude, this chick has no idea what she’s doing! Yo, I coulda done it way better.”

Yes, yes, I’m sure you could have, buddy. Now hurry home before your overly tan and excessively loud wife gets mad and throws out your Derek Jeter jersey. Oh wait, you’re wearing it. Never mind.

The popularity of biking in the United States can be attributed to one man, Lance “I swear I’m not on drugs” Armstrong. A cancer survivor and six-time Tour winner, Americans love Lance. Bitter Europeans, however, do not. Everyone knows that Lance has a lower resting heart rate than a Kenyan marathon champ from all the drugs he soaks up, but that’s not what makes the Europeans mad. They’re red-assed because they’ve been letting him win for years.

Why? Because when a rider wins the Tour they’re supposed to celebrate. Since the European has the least amount of rhythm of any creature on God’s green Earth, this celebration can be a harrowing experience. Europeans might smoke the competition over a grueling 100-mile course, but as soon as they cross the line and try to let loose, it looks like they’ve been shoved down a long flight of stairs. A simple fist pump or high-five is nearly impossible for a continent of people who truly believe that David Hasselhoff is the sexiest man alive.

Sadly, Lance and I have always had some beef, and it’s not just because Sheryl Crow calls out my name at night. No, our animosity is over those damn yellow bracelets he pushed on us. Livestrong my arse! Mine broke the first time I put it on!

The bracelet Lance rides with was produced by BALCO and leaks Human Growth Hormone. The ones we bought were made in a sweatshop next to the Oprah apparel. I’m not sure exactly which sweatshop, but I suspect it was run by the most ruthless man in the business… Santa. Elves are people too, you white-haired monster!

Before any of you begin calling me a hypocrite, yes, I have biked before. However, there is a huge difference between people who ride their bike as a mode of transportation and people who feel the need to pedal 100 miles to justify the neon spandex they’re wearing.

Cycling is just something that you don’t want to be too good at. It’s like juggling. How often do you watch the jugglers on the Main Green and wonder, “What were these people not doing while they were becoming such great jugglers?” I have my guesses, but that’s just wild speculation, and I like to keep things very professional.

I actually had the best workout of my life with my bike. I was about two miles out on the East Bay Bike Path when a tire blew out. I carried the hunk of crap all the way back to the “reputable dealer” who sold it to me. When they refused to refund my money, I simply lost it. “Time to pay the Piper, you corporate trash!” I didn’t think I was capable of such atrocities. When it was all said and done, I had single-handedly cost the store thousands of dollars in hospital bills and damage. Those greedy executives had to learn: you can’t keep stepping on the little guy. Next time, the Salvation Army will think twice about selling me an item they don’t stand behind 100 percent.

Every time I get into an argument with one of my biking friends, things end poorly. Out of pure concern, I like to send them studies about the dangers of long-term biking to one’s sexual health. They mistake my heartfelt concern for mockery. I often get hit with such fighting words as, “I once rode 700 miles in a week! What have you ever accomplished?”

Well, my friend, I once coined the words “sketchy,” “random” and “awkward” and they seem to be doing pretty well now, aren’t they?

I shouldn’t make fun of biking. It’s a real sport with real people, and some of those real people are my friends… friends who I only pray have not spent too many hours sitting on a bike seat, for the sake of their family trees. Support Bike and Build!

Hugh Murphy ’06 has covered swimming, gymnastics and women’s track for The Herald in addition to writing his column, “Black Elk Speaks.” He also throws the javelin on the men’s track and field team.