24 June, 2012

The Lycra Brother (and Sister) hood.

I rode my hardest ride of 2012 during the hottest part of 2012 (at least until that record is broken, which will probably be today).  Our Natural Grocers team leader and general good guy, Kenny L. picked a ride from Strava.  Strava, loosely, is a social networking gig where competitive people or competitively voyeuristic people who want some anonymity can check other people's timed events.  These events can either be segments of road or off-road courses or anything GPS can track.  Obviously if you're running in mine shafts GPS can't track you.  Kenny picked Taylor Phinney's "medium" ride for our poison (aka transcendental therapy session) yesterday.

Cycling friendships are a little more special than non-cycling friendships (my opinion) because they have an added bonus of this:  everybody-your cycling brahs and sissies-embraces suffering in one form or another (i.e. more layers of the onion, peeled away).  This embracing of suffering isn't temporary; in fact, your friendships become more entwined because we frequently inflict-and expect-this collective suffering upon each other.  Bike geeks (racers, bike marathoners, RAAMers, mileage junkies...I'm sure I'm missing another specialty of two-wheeledness-recumbent riders are just plain weird) can suffer more than the self-perceived bike geek who rode to 7-11 and got caught in the rain ONCE and thought, "Wow!  That was a Marlboro Man experience!  I probably can do the Tour de France now." It's this common denominator (and general aiming, through digital manipulation of self-propelled mucoid substances while riding) that binds us; probably complimenting the friendship that precedes the commonality of suffering.  It's like, "Yeah, they're all nice guys and none have been convicted of any felonies (in Kenny's case, he was acquitted);" but, when experiences of universal bike race suffering (we're all from difference necks of the woods) occur before meeting each other, there's a kindred spirituality that makes that person even more likable.   
Now if it's just you suffering on a constructive training ride, the fact that it wasn't shared-in my humble opinion-kept that cosmic energy expenditure of positivity bottled and resonated only with you.  It's like having an out-of-body experience that nobody else was there to witness (it's like cosmic validation but truly it's you who has to be convinced) that experience.  You add another (or several) bipedal hominid(s) on a modified penny farthing (today's bike silly!) and you get the racer's phenomena of what I call collective suffering.  

Collective suffering is akin to hive mentality via resonance.  Take the sleestak example of Land Of The Lost fame.  They were a collective and before Marshall, Will, and Holly tore the fabric of space/time to drop in on them-while still on their kayaks nonetheless-like uninvited guests (through no fault of their own).  Before that happened the sleestaks were happy keeping their hive in order, tending to their young, flinging poop out of the hive for cleanliness sake, and hatching out of eggs.  Probably had a caste system too.  When the humans came something clicked in their collective brain.  An abstraction that led them to a higher purpose, which was:  let's kill da human beeches foo's (or more likely this: aasdienbqpzvcmxiweytnxalki!)!  This abstraction resonated with all the individuals in the clutch (you can't resonate with one-but you can originate the impulse), the hive, the collective or whatever word or phrase you wanna use like E pluribus unum (in Latin, it translates roughly to E pluribus unum).  So this reptilian homeboy/girl society was further galvanized, with more purpose because pre-humans they were bored, now they banded together with their toe-up bows and arrows (and couldn't shoot their way out of a paper bag) to kill the humans.  Incidentally, if you were at point blank range from a sleestak you'd have a better chance of living than if you were equidistant from a highly used kitty litter box ripe with Toxoplasma gondii protozoans.  Hell you could probably fire off six or seven fierce, highly accurate kara-te kicks to that sleestak's groin before it fired off that arrow in your general direction (don't forget to kiai!). 

Our peloton yesterday of six behaved like a hive.  Instead of clearly defined castes though, we had roles of I'ma-inflict-this-specific-type-o'pain-on-yo-arse.  For example, roles like:  the billy goat, the descend-like-Satan-descender, the flat terrain human diesel motor, the sprinter...etc.  When the topographically-dependent situation distilled that role from an individual in the hive-the roles can switch-we got down to bidness (i.e. the buzzing in the beehive).  Our transcendental plane destination was suffering; and to get there mentally you have to bring your admission ticket of resonance.  When riding, sometimes there's talking, sometimes it's church mouse quiet and the only thing you hear is the gravel crunching underneath the skinny tires, or the whir of our drivetrains as our 12 wheeled hive rolled along on all manner of rode surfaces as the Sol blasted us with unadulterated UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation.  The gravelly part SUCKED!  In fact, my damn Speedplay's came loose with all that shaking going on (I had to bum a screw in Ward at a store to refasten my cleat!).  Five hours later, with close to 9000' (2743 m) of climbing, in 99° F (37°C) of heat, mentally ensconced in our suffer-fest bubble we arrive to our parking lot (and our cars didn't get towed!  Boulder is parking nazi central).  You'da thunk it was Christmas (or fill-in whatever joyous event comes into your mellon) by the expressions on our faces resulting from our collective suffering via resonance.  Racing amplifies this abstraction.  So the next time you see a bee or a sleestak for that matter, know that there's a lot going on in their neural networks (and run from the sleestak).  Furthermore, the next time you see members of the Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers Racing Team riding as a collective, pass 'em with at least three feet of space because it's Colorado law (and buy more vitamins and cottages please)!

It doesn't matter what gender you are to achieve this type of enlightenment (brothers and sisters!); but it has to be greater than one to make it logarithmically mo' bettah.  Because (and remember-say, remember like Mufasa) the whole (collective) is greater than the sum of the (individual) parts my grasshoppers.

Ruminate on that...

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