Monday, December 29, 2008

The Mr. Obvious Show, today's topic, high altitude

Bicycling magazine seems to get all gushy over stories of divide and conquer. Whether it be tall tales from readers about joining the local group ride on a rusty old mountain bike and showing the young pups on $5000 carbon road bikes a thing or two, or tales from their own authors about their personal conquests of overcoming other riders and leaving them crying for momma, new conquest stories are the sheep who grew the golden fleece.

When Lance announced his comeback, the heavens more than likely opened up over Bicycling mag with much rejoicing. The editors must be drooling over possible future stories such as Lance’s “look” to Ulrich before he dropped him up Alpe d'Huez, and scheming on how they are going to use that on the bike trail when some family guy on a Raleigh gets too close. Anyone who can be overcome, whether they are trying, riding with their family, or fixing a flat, is inferior and a chance to show your dominance, to be like Lance.

That said, it was with much rejoicing that I saw the latest story in Bicycling about an author moving to high altitude, going out to ride in the remote suburbs, passing a bunch of family riders, and then finally getting schooled by some apparently lost women bike messengers. If the story would end there it would be amusing enough, but he went on to contact an adviser to the Olympic Committee about loss of performance at high altitude and explain the reason for his poor performance in the article.

I couldn’t help thinking back to my favorite radio show, the Bob and Tom show, where funny little skits are used as filler between the talking and interviews of comedians. One of their little skits is Mr. Obvious. Each week Mr. Obvious answers questions from callers such as a frantic caller who stopped at a restaurant, only to have his car “stolen” by guys in black suits who gave him a card with a number on it. Mr. Obvious has to go on to explain to the frantic caller that these are valets and his car hasn’t been stolen.

If I could only arrange an interview between the author and Mr. Obvious, this is how it might transpire.

Mr. Obvious: Hello, Mr. Obvious.

Author: (frantic) Mr. Obvious, is this Mr. Obvious?

Mr. Obvious: speaking

Author: Hey Mr. Obvious, long time listener, first time caller. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Back at sea level I felt strong and I was never outrun by anyone by the fastest roadies, but now that I’ve moved to Denver I run out of breath when trying to catch riders that should be inferior to me.

Mr. Obvious: Well super, happy riding up there!

Author: Wait, wait, Mr. Obvious, I moved to Denver and now it seems like I’m slower or I can’t breathe as well, and the other day some bike messengers…

Mr. Obvious: Did you say you can’t breathe as well caller?

Author: Yes, Mr. Obvious, I moved to Denver and some bike messengers…

Mr. Obvious: Caller, caller calm down… Everyone doesn’t breathe as well at high altitude, there is less oxygen up there.

Author: But the bike messengers, they…

Mr. Obvious: No caller, it’s just a lower amount of useable oxygen at higher altitudes, everyone suffers from it, there is no reason to be alarmed.

Author: Well thanks Mr. Obvious, I tried to bug my contact at the Olympic training center again, but for some reason he has quit returning my calls.

Mr. Obvious: I, ah, don't know why that would be. Well, this is Mr. Obvious saying so long for now, and join us next time for the Mr. Obvious show.

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