As my fellow blogger Sur la Jante pointed out recently, as I mused on the massive physique of German sprinter Andre Greipel, big cyclists only look big next to other cyclists. This is especially true when the other cyclists are skinny climbers; essentially sixty-odd kilos of bone and sinew, with some highly developed muscles in some very specific paces.
When that ‘hulking beast’ Greipel stands next to a normal sized human he looks like, well…a normal sized human. A little small, even.
Recent pictures of Bradley Wiggins at the Tour of California demonstrate that same phenomenon. Having bulked up to race on the track for the Olympics he now looks like a big lad on a bike, despite weighing a fairly average amount for a man of his height. It’s enough, of course, to rule him out of any kind of challenge in California – he insists he’s just there to top his tan, anyway.
I, for one, would pay good money to watch a dads ‘n’ lads version of the Tour of California, featuring many of the world’s top pro-cyclists ferrying their offspring around the sweeping landscape of California; with kids hanging from bike seats, napping in bike trailers, and pestering riders with endless “…why?” questions.
I wonder how the team mechanics would feel about the nappy changes?
Measuring extra poundage in units of ‘baby’ is one way of doing it, but personally I prefer the time-honored measuring method of ‘bags of sugar’.
I’m a fairly average weight for a semi-serious cyclist who enjoys both riding a bike quickly and eating things containing lots of butter. I would like to be a few kilos lighter but I find it tricky to turn down a bottle of wine on a Friday night and a massive plate of bacon and eggs on a Saturday morning.
What can I say? In the final analysis wine and fatty food taste better than Strava KOM’s feel.
The trade-off here is that, when I go for a ride with certain friends of mine who strike the balance between body weight and pleasure slightly differently to me, the road heads upwards and I slide backwards.
It’s all very well to say things like: “I’m a good climber for my weight”, but that’s just another way of saying, “I’m a rubbish climber”. Being a good climber, by its very nature, means denial and weight loss. It’s a bit like saying: “well, if it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t help shoving cake into my mouth and also my fundamental lack of talent, I would be a really good climber. It’s not my fault…”
So, when the aforementioned skinny cycling friend accelerates away on the uphill bits I find myself thinking: “how many bags of sugar would I need to slip into his jersey pocket to level the playing field?”
About five, for the record.
Definitely more practical than slipping a small baby into his jersey pocket.