Always relevant, and good advice. Well Played Matthew.
There are so many options in cycling kits out there, but unfortunately, I find that so many of us end up in team or replica kits, and honestly, I far prefer unbranded loud and fun kits, so I am always looking at other kits out there. So, for the next few weeks we are going to be posting some links to some really fun kit vendors as we stumble across them.
Todays is KOMRaid. We haven’t had a chance to give the product a test, but they are certainly hitting the loud and fun vibe just about perfect.
Quite an interesting OpEd in the Washington Post. Some of the numbers quoted in the piece are very specific to Washington DC, however, the averages around the country for metro cities in terms land use are pretty close to those. The number of non-car homes is much higher in DC than many cities (like Atlanta that lacks robust transit options).
One particular quote really stands out, and it is something that we are hearing more and more from city planners, both large and small:
“We’ve built an unsustainable transportation network that makes all of us feel isolated, vulnerable and embattled, no matter how we’re getting around.”
While even if we have rich and robust non-car support in our transportation budgets and spaces, many people will still opt to drive, but the path we are on makes driving the only viable option, and that just makes the problems worse.
It has both a beat that works well, and the lyrics are just perfect.
- This song from Sofi Tukker ( Best Friend ) is about to be crazy popular on alternative radio, and probably pop radio by spring.
- Last week saw two really good examples of the real problem between cars and bikes sharing the roads, and it is not the bikes. Matt Russell hitting a van that pulled out in front of him, on a CLOSED ROAD race course, and this 20 person protest against a bike lane installed after a child was killed riding in a neighborhood street are clear examples of fundamental issue that people as a rule really aren’t very good at driving.
- After years of riding bikes year round, we finally have lights that are finding the sweet spot of bright enough, long enough battery life, and small enough that riding at night no longer feels like a complete gamble. 1100 lumens, with 2 hours of battery life in a self contained unit that fits comfortably on the handlebars? Yes please. Lezyne Power Drive 1100i
- Fall is the best time of the year. It is also the hardest to dress for if you are doing any outdoor athletic activities. Knees are particularly difficult to properly address.
- Scott Sports sponsored athlete Louis Reboul might jus thave the best backyard bike space in the world. Just watch and enjoy. It helps that he has incredible skills on the bike.
Personally, I always find the period from Thanksgiving through New Years to be the hardest time to keep a consistent routine. It is a time when food, particularly, junk food, is constantly in reach, and the time when I usually train is consumed by time with extended family and friends that I don’t get to see most of the year.
This year, I tried something different, and I think it worked fairly well.
Instead of trying to stay on a regimented plan, I simply set a base goal. Workout for at least 30 minutes 6 days a week. Workouts could be a run, a swim (not), core, or a bike ride. Included in the workout categories for the offseason were hikes, walking round of golf, and even casual jogs. Basically, anything that would elevate the heart rate.
The intent? minimize the fitness loss while allowing the unstructured weeks to flow around the light schedule. The result? I feel fresher than I have in months, and ready to jump back into the saddle, both figuratively and literally.
Not too long ago, a friend linked a brilliant blog post called (“The Spandex Theory”)[http://ernestgagnon.blogspot.com/2015/01/fall-2013-updated-spandexplanation-my.html]. If you haven’t read it already, you really ought to take the time to do so. I admit that when I first read through it, I thought it was a great human interest story, but the idea behind his Spandex Theory didn’t sit very well with me, probably not for the reasons you would think.
So first let us discuss the theory itself. It takes him a couple of rambling paragrapsh to get to the point defining what the theory is, but the crux of it comes from the following:
While wearing spandex on my bike, I started to love myself and fix my self. It also helps me deal with my depression because spandex is honest. It makes me honest with myself and with others. This is why I think the cycling world is so open; when people can accept themselves for who they are they can also accept others and help them to be their self. You can’t help others if you can’t accept and help your self. You make the spandex what it is, not the other way around.
Taking from that, I get this this:
The act of wearing spandex in public removes layers of protection and exposes a level of physical honesty that is reflected in the mental and emotional state of the wearer.
On the surface, it sounds good. So why did it not sit well with me? Because when I looked at it, I did not like something I saw in myself. It exposed an aspect of my behavior that I don’t particular care for, and in typical fashion the gut reaction was to dismiss the theory because I didn’t like what it showed. Fortunately, it sat there in the back of the brain and percolated over a couple of weeks, and eventually I circled back to it, and concluded that not only is there remarkable merit to the theory, but when you really get down to it, you also start to see some really deep truths tucked away in to the idea and concept.
What did I not like that made me dismiss this? Turns out, I am a judgemental ass. Probably not in the way you think though. Turns out, it’s not the spandex that makes me judge you, but it may be the choice of the spandex that triggers something in me. Show up in pro gear on a pro bike, and you better have the skills to ride at a pro level. When you fail at basic riding skills, decked out in pro gear, there is a really good chance I may judge you to be a pretentious ass. That judgement may be true, but it is not my place to make that jugement. This really hit home for me this year. I showed up to a group ride that I had not ridden before. It was early in the season and I knew the ride was tri bike friendly, so I grabbed the tri bike, and whatever kit was at the top of the drawer. It happened to be one of race kits, and when I started prep for the ride, one of the other riders walked over and asked if I was aware that this was not a fast ride. I knew, I wasn’t out for a fast ride, just a casual spin with some other people. The route was one I wanted to hit, because on the tri bike, it would present some good work at low speeds, and it was a chance to get to know more of the community in the area.
The question though, made me ask myself what triggered it. It wasn’t until I was out an spinning along that it gelled. I looked “Pro”. I was rocking a team tri kit, on a bike that looked to someone not deeply in to the triathlon bike world like a very high end bike ( it is and it isn’t. high end frame, mid-level components, low end wheels ). Early on, I would have made the same snap judgement, and I would have been wrong. It turned out to be a great ride, and an even better community of cyclists, and I blended right into the group, despite my tendancy to ride off the back of groups because I am basically a mother hen in a group, nobody gets left behind or isolated.
As the season went on, I kept circling back to this idea that cycling is the way it is because of the spandex effect, and that outsiders that judge cycling so harshly do so, also because of the spandex effect. The more I watched, the more I started to believe, and I started to see another dynamic that just fascinates me.
It Is Not The Activity
At first, I really wanted to ascribe the behavior to the bonding that people with a shared activity do. We all ride bikes, so that is the common ground. Runners have these bonds too right? Swimmers? Team Sports? Interestingly, not so much. In fact many of the communities for these activities are quite the opposite. If you look at cycling itself, you find that it can be quite the same, with some petty nastiness going on between the spandex wearers and the non. The mountain bike cyclists and road cyclists have some long standing issues, and not surprisingly, spandex is one of them.
Though I have cycled for a long time, I am actually fairly new to running, and very new to triathlon. I have only been running for about 4 years now. Runners, particularly male runners, are not spandex wearers. Even amongst female runners, there seems to be two distinct groups, the spandex wearers that run in spandex shorts and sports bras and the non-spandex wearers that seem to operate under the belief that only the hyper-fit rock hard bodies can wear spandex and the sports bra. When you get to know a lot of runners, you quickly learn that the line is not about the body, but the mind. It is a confidence thing, which circles back to the spandex theory.
But then came triathlon, and the wake up call that is the triathlon age group community.
Age groupers come in every shape, color, size and skill level. They all train for this crazy support, and you know what? the age group community is beyond welcoming. Judgement is left on the outside, and supportive is the only thing brought in. Yeah, on the race course, they race hard while still finding time to encourage others along the way, but before the start, and at the finish line? It is game on for some hard core support and cheering.
The runs over the last 4 years where the the runners gather up in the start corral, chat a bit about past races and food, and then when the gun goes off, shove to the front and off they go. At the finish, most of the runners get thier freebie, and many only hang around if they have a shot at an award, otherwise they are done and gone in their cars within minutes of finishing.
I can’t tell you how many bike races I’ve done over the years where the athletes show up, spin on trainers or rollers with headphones on pre-race, gather in the start and then go full gas until the finish line, throwing elbows if needed to get there. They’ll hang around at the finish line, but there isn’t much cheering going on. There will however be drinks and foof afterward for the friends that knew each other pre-race day. The thing is, not many cyclists race, but a huge number do organized events like Grand Fondo’s and Century Rides, and these are where the real spandex theory starts to show.
The more I looked, the more I concluded that he is on the right track.
But what really cemented the idea, and warranted the expansion of it for me? the realization that I know literally hundreds of triathletes, and cyclists around the area. People that I can identify from a hundred yards away out on the bike or run. Out of those hundreds, the number that I could identify from 5 feet away in street clothes probably numbers in a number I could count on my fingers, perhaps with the assistance of a couple of toes, and that stems from the other side effect of the spandex effect.
Once you shed the layers of disclosure, you create communities, clubs and active groups, clubs and those groups become very welcoming, and that is what led me to conclude that the spandex effect is real. Locally, we have a couple of medium sized running clubs, that will typically have 4-10 runners show up to a given week. Within the same community, I can name 6 different cycle clubs with upwards of 20 active riders at every event, and they just keep growing.
So here is my addition to the Spandex Theory.
The level in inclusivity of a group is directly proportional to the amount of spandex being worn during group activities.
I have an additional addendum though.
The same effect does not apply to a remove of clothing. Quite simply put, nudity increases sezual tensions that are usually erased in the cycling communities, not because they don’t exist, but because the “creeps” of both genders that make it uncomfortable are weeded out pretty quickly.
Back when we started batting the idea of OGRE around, we really didn’t have a plan, it was more of nebulous idea. Over the last year, that idea has begun to coalesce into something more. What exactly “more” constitutes is something that we are really just now putting into action, but the ideas, well, it is time to share.
In the beginning, OGRE was just a place for the brothers to share their racing escapades, bike, swim, run and motorcycle. At first, OGRE was Old Guys Racing Enterprises. The problem was that really didn’t fit for long. As we really started to realize that, for us, OGRE was less about us, and more about the people we hope to influence, inspire and encourage, things changed. Somewhere along the way, that “Eureka!” moment occurred.
With OGRE, we really are not looking to just publish about our “Epic Adventures” but to use the adventures to learn, to teach and to encourage. All of the sudden, it was not Racing, but Random, because these things are crossing boundaries that simply are not just racing. For example, we run to run, not just to race. We love to bike yet we really don’t race bikes. It also leads to something that we are seriously looking into to go step further, an OGRE Jump Start program that is the equivalent of a Couch to 5k program designed for getting started on a bicycle.
But there is more. Remember that Eureka! moment? Yep, that one.
OGRE is not just us. Not even close. OGRE is a philosophy, a movement about movement. It might even be a religion, because to us, it is. Being OGRE defines who and what we are about more than anything else. It is founded on some very basic concepts.
- Live right
- Love others
- Respect yourself
- Don’t be a jerk
- Don’t be a selfish jerk
- Don’t preach what you don’t live
Sounds simple right? It isn’t. Far from it, this is really hard to do in practice, especially since these concepts are pretty broad concepts, so I guess we need to look at them a little more closely.
Ultimately, all of the others fall under this broad one, but we leave it here because in many ways, this one idea applies to every decision we make on the path of life. What does it mean though? It means that when an OGRE looks at a situation and chooses the option that is the “right” one, where right is defined as the one that doesn’t make them a selfish jerk, and best benefits everyone involved.
Something that is often forgotten along the way is that we have to love the people around us in order to truly learn to love ourselves and our lives. All too often, we get so mired in our own problems, that we forget that we are not islands. What we do, and how we behave directly impacts those around us. When we fail to love and respect them, we fail ourselves. Part of this means forgetting that things like race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion or even food choices exists. These are not things that should ever matter.
Seriously, living the OGRE lifestyle means forgetting those biases even exist, and simply learning to appreciate others for who and what they are. If it helps, keep in mind our namesakes. We are not princes and princesses. We are the ugly, the fat, the swamp dwellers, and we are not only fine with it, we have embraced it. We are OGREs.
This one should not even need to be mentioned, but really, it has become one of the most important reminders. Along the path of life, most of us have been worn down. We have had every flaw exposed, diagnosed and those flaws have come to be a part of our identities. We have our warts, and in all of that ugliness, we have come to respect the people that have torn us town more than we respect ourselves. As OGREs, we have learned that we have to respect ourselves. From that respect, we can grow and rediscover our true selves, peeling away the layers of shame and ugliness that we have allowed others to cocoon us with.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Curiously, with self respect sometimes comes an arrogance that leads us to be jerks to others. Part of the OGRE way is to find the path to respect and confidence without being a jerk. Sounds easy, but in practice, not being a jerk is situational. You have to understand the people around you and temper your behavior and decisions around how your actions will be received by them. It is the little things.
In a household of all men, leaving the toilet seat up is a courtesy. Other men don’t want to sit on a pee splash seat, but at the same time, don’t want to have to flip it up to pee. On the flip side, in a household of women, that seat should always be put down after use. Again, courtesy that when applied in a reasonable manner is the very soul of not being a jerk.
Don’t Be a Selfish Jerk
In so many ways, this one, more than any of the others is the one that challenges most of us in out daily lives. We do a hundred little selfish things every single day. We don’t even realize them. No where does this show more than when we get behind the wheel of a car. Racing up, weaving through traffic, camping in the left lane. Pushing stop lights, rolling stop signs, and other behaviors are all actions deeply rooted in our selfish desires to reach our destinations quicker. The fact that most of these actions slow down those around us only makes them even more selfish.
However, things get even more complex when we start telling or worse, enforcing, our opinions onto others. Think about the times we are driving in our cars, get angry at the behavior of a selfish driver and then we enforce our unhappiness upon the next driver that does that thing. You know, waiting in line to turn and that other driver whips past the line cutting in at the last minute, so you close the gaps to keep the next one from doing it? I see it every single day when I am driving around town.
Don’t Preach What You Don’t Live
Seriously, how hard is this? You would think it would be easy, but it seems that this is the single hardest concept for most people. This very post has been written and deleted a dozen times in the last year, simply because it is preaching a lifestyle that we choose to live, but we really don’t like preaching it to others. That simply isn’t the OGRE way. You can choose to follow suit, but that is your choice, but it also means that you don’t preach it, you live it.