Muscle Memory and PHELasofy at the Scottish XC Championship
Every weekend Helen Findlay (my housing sponsor, new friend, Very Organized Person) races her fat tire bike, leaving me to play in Eden. Her cat gets to have a new set of fingers tearing open the food packet and a new set of ears to miaow at.
When women live together, all kinds of things get into synch, not the least of which is the urge to rage around muddy tracks for temporary glory, fleeting fitness and probably pointless pursuit of perfection in the pedal-turning department.
Anyway, it’s what happened to me.
While swimming laps at Dalry Baths the other morning, I decided that I would stow away in Helen’s little white truck, and try the race she was going to compete in the next day.
Regardless of the weather (I’ve been spoilt with four weeks of nearly California style sun and non-rain)…
I know how to race, and I have the use of a fine bike.
But: would the “Authorities” permit it?
Helen said “mebbie”.
Did it matter that we’re talking about the National XC Championship?
(Historical aside…at the first so-called ‘integrated’ mountain bike world championships in Durango Colorado, I was on hand to watch a kid who’d come from South Africa by a combination of boat, train, plain and wombat-carriage…get turned away by the dreaded Ed Zink, who almost owned (and still owns) our so-called sport (to him it’s purely biz) .
See, the kid had not pre-registered.
I argued with Ed, saying “How can this truly be a world championship if a kid crossed the world and you turn him away”
He just said, “it’s in the rules”.
Well, let’s just say I am glad I brought lotttz of money to this race, cause it cost almost as much as yr typical drain-the-rich entry fee of an ordinary American mtn bike race (60 bucks).
The course called _____er, sorry you’ll have to look it up, and was near Glasgow, specifically in Paisley (‘drug capital of Scotland’ according to Helen).
In the few hours I had between my swim on Saturday and my race on I:
sewed a paisley breechclout–kiltclout really– to my tartan of uncertain clan. On the back. The perfect mudflap!
freshened up the florol display on the bike’s handlebars….
taped over every brand name on the dreichcycle, lest any photo appear of the (titanically modest) racing legend “in their mist”.
Sunday dawned dreich and dreary…we drove (me literally stowed in rear, illegally) tHelen and I burst out of the car saying “We’re here, now we can race!” to several turned, puzzled faces. Usually when she was the event producer she’d be swarmed by riders with Issues. I am sure it’s a relief that others have to sweat that stuff, and find out how HARD it is to put on a safe, fun event.
It seemed a bit muted, the “fun”….but being American I could just assume that a bit of austerity in one’s recreation is the norm here…Outside of myself, there were no costumes that didn’t conform to the Dow Chemical (makers of Dupont Lycra) Standards of Bikie Kit. Primary colors. Lots of words on the jersies, etc…
To give you an idea of the Seriousness Quotient at the event, there were two sets of rollers with intent riders bent over the bars, thrumming away.
I made sure to meet almost every woman there…there were some sponsored by a car company, I am sad to say.
Hmm? Uh, yes, I do have a problem with automobiles. Also with advertising in general, the idea of endless economic ‘growth’and the concomitant glow-ball warming, etc.
I am going to guess that 3% of my Scottish XC racing colleagues are scratching their heids thinking , “what the hell is she talking aboot?”
If you have to ask why, I don’t know what to say. The same automobile company was the title sponsor to the Moon Walk, a breast cancer fun-raiser (and with 23,000 walkers, I am going to imagine the tax write off is huge and the intake of funds is also significant.) Since automobile useage is directly tied to pollution and a host of known and unknown somatic effects on the human body, it seems like cognitive dissonance–the sound coming out doesn’t match the picture of what is happening.
Jeez I’m on the rag.
OK, so the usable part of this rant, er, blog might be still to come…bear with me.
There were about a hundred racers. Maybe about 70 spectators…these numbers are similar to those of the early days of mtn biking in Calif…but!
No party afterward.
No prize for dead fucking last (DFL), a cherished tradition…and if that is too predictable (there are those who will “cheat!” to win this Lantern Rouge prize!) then just assign a random number like number thirty seven across the line wins…a gallon of Invisible Grouse whisky…something that would cost a sponsor nearly nothing and get an entire new generation of drinkers off and running.
Whoops, that ISN’T why that company is sponsoring sports these days?
Sorry. I thought it was all about developing future markets.
OK, in a perfect world, the Lantern Rouge would win…a nice set of headlights, perfect for the wintertime’s long dark…but I suspect the makers of fine illumination systems haven’t the proffit margins that booze purveyors have.
I am wondering if I’m off topic here.
I don’t think so…sports and business are two peas in a pod.
Anyone denying this is…asleep.
I had a FASCINATING conversation with a prowd father whose boy is rising through the ranks of road cycling…we were at Bicycle Works in Argyle St…what was his name? Well anyhow, Mr. Dad was bringing in Boy’s bike for a quick tune up.
Little did he know I was going to regale him with the hazards of road racing glory…and how at some point he is going to have to decide that
a) he will do what ever it takes (i.e. take advantage of what is euphemistically called “Sports Medicine”
b) stay un-’assisted’ and either survive Euro-racing development or not survive…
ANd then who knows?
I hope the man’s kid does very well, and yet remains true to his un-aided ideals.
Dare I mention that when he’s played that side of the sport all out (road racing) that “we” are waiting for him in single speed, where you are doing it for the funnuvit…>?
Well, reader, I did suggest it.
I may as well have clobbered him with a pie-rolling pin.
Nevertheless, we ARE there, waiting in the wings…
must turn in …to beacon tinued…