Today we answer questions from noncyclists. None of these questions were actually sent to the blog, but they are questions that I have been asked during my numerous personal appearances. (I appear at my home, at the place I work, that sort of thing.)
What do you do when you’re out riding and it starts to rain?
How do you answer this question without sounding sarcastic? You get wet. I always want to ask people who ask me this question what other answer they think is possible. Okay, during a really big storm I know some people who hid in a handy shed in a stranger’s yard or under a carport. That does happen, but mostly you just get wet. It would be interesting to speculate on what the owner of the shed or carport thinks if they happen to look out the window and see a bunch of wild cyclists hiding under their roof, but that one hasn’t come up yet.
Do you have to wear those clothes?
No. So far as I know, there is no law requiring cycling clothes. After seeing me in them, some people might want to pass a law against cyclng clothes, but that’s a different story entirely. My first group rides I wore plain old shorts and a T-shirt. I gradually moved up to a cycling jersey. It took a lot longer to move up to cycling shorts, and I kind went back to a long T-shirt for a while to hide the shorts, but the kit is just too comfortable to pass up, and eventually you get used to it. Some of the passersby may never get used to it, but you will.
What’s the longest you’ve ever ridden?
We’ll assume this means “in one day” and the answer is 200 miles. Yes, I know that’s completely ridiculous. I didn’t finish the ride strong, and I had a nice guy pacing me the last several miles to get me to the finish, and I didn’t really want to sit down for a few days after that, also, I didn’t want to taste anything sweet for about a month, but I did finish.
200 miles? Are you crazy?
Yes. It’s really the only explanation.
How much did your bike cost?
Now, in fact, I was at the bike shop watching my bike get tuned up one day, when a guy came in with his bike. It was simply a bike, very old, rusted, beat up, but functional. He took a look at my bike and asked how much it cost. The mechanic looked at the guy’s bike and then lied and said “$200.00.” The guy looked quite smug and told us that he’d only paid $20.00 for his. He clearly thought I was a sucker for paying so much for a bike, and that he had gotten a great deal, and maybe he had.
So, why did you lie to him about the price?
Because, let’s face it, even a bottom end road bike is fairly pricey, and you get tired to people looking at you like you’re a moron for spending so much of your hard earned cash on a bicycle when you could go to the local “if they don’t sell it you don’t need it” megamart and a buy cheap bike there. It’s just like musicians and their instruments. You’d paid how much for that violin? (Or accordion or bagpipes or didgeridoo or whatever you happen to play.) To some people it’s worth it and to some it’s not. You know who you are.
Not that this is a question, but I always figured that, rather than looking at the cost of your bike, figure out how much it cost you per mile. That’s pretty steep in the beginning, but, if you ride enough you get it down to pennies.
So, what do you think about Lance Armstrong?
Again? Really? Okay, so I realize that Lance is probably the only professional cyclist that a lot of Americans have ever heard of, but there are one or two others out there. Even If you want to limit yourself to American cyclists, let’s talk about Chris Horner or Tyler Farrar or Greg LeMond or let’s branch out into the rest of the world and talk about Jens Voigt or Andy Schleck. Wait, I have an idea! Let me tell you about this guy named Eddy Merckx…
But you didn’t answer the Lance Armstrong question.
Oh, enough about Lance. Don’t you know anything else about pro cycling?
I know they all take drugs.
They do not all take drugs.
Of course they do.
Tell you what – go read Racing Through the Dark by David Millar and then we’ll talk. Now, do you have any questions that don’t involve doping.
Do they still run that Tour de France thing?
What? Of course they do. Why would you ask that?
Well, since Lance Armstrong isn’t racing anymore—
Okay. Do you have any questions that don’t involve doping or Lance Armstrong?
Great. That’s all for today, folks. See you next time.