Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A three-week news cycle

So, the Tour de France is on, meaning Americans are once again feeding our national passion for cycle racing. Er, rather, our annual three-week passion for cycle racing. Aside from bicycle messengers, bright neon spandex cycling outfits are still mercifully rare on the streets around most American cities. But in the environs around 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters, spandex cycling outfits are as common as SUVs with "Protect the Environment" license plates. Nothing against cycling -- it's swell exercise and it's nicer to the environment than driving a Hummer.

But aside from bicycle messengers and people actively involved in a bicycle race, there are precious few legitimate excuses for wearing those spandex outfits. The casual cyclist doesn't have the physique to pull it off. Recent statistics that I just invented indicate drivers distracted by unfortunately-clad bicyclists are the leading cause of traffic accidents during the weeks the Tour de France is televised.

The other group that routinely wears these clothes is the hardcore cycling fanatics. They're "in training" for their next race, their weekend 100-mile outing, etc. So let me ask you this -- if you're trying to build up your stamina and get the maximum exercise out of your ride, why aren't you wearing something that provides more wind resistance, not less? You'd think the really serious cyclist would wear a parka, or float a sail over his or her bike.

It's a phenomenon you rarely see in other sports. Here on the university campus that hosts the 19 Minutes HQ, it's common to see people throwing a baseball around a grassy field. It's much less common to see them wearing a baseball jersey, baseball pants, stirrups and spikes. I shoot baskets pretty regularly at my local health club, but do it without wearing basketball shorts or a tank top. (Although it dawns on me that would put me at a competitive advantage in future one-on-one games, since my opponents would likely be on the floor in convulsive fits of laughter.)

So let me float a theory. These outfits are a billboard. A billboard that says: "HEY! I'M A BICYCLIST! While you're trying to eat your Egg McMuffin while talking on your cell phone and changing your CD on your commute to work, I'm engaging in a healthy, environmentally friendly activity!"

And that's fine. Though perhaps it's a point that can be made without the spandex.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I shoot baskets pretty regularly at my local health club, but do it without wearing basketball shorts or a tank top.

So you're shooting baskets naked?!?!