There was a musician from the 40’s and 50’s named Joe Williams who played a nine-string guitar and who wrote really good songs. One of my favorites was “Long, Tall Woman,” and the line I liked most was “I want a big fat woman, plenty meat on them doggone bones.”
The whole thing about weight loss and improved cycling performance is of course ridiculous. James Stout, wherever he may be now, wrote a great article three years ago about eating disorders in cycling. And although he was writing about the pervasiveness of eating disorders in the pro peloton, he missed, or at least failed to dwell on, that the extreme skinniness of modern racers is one way they’ve compensated for not being able to dope as copiously as in years gone by. The extra power has to come from somewhere, right?
But the real crazy train with regard to weight and cycling isn’t among professionals and elite amateurs whose jobs and Olympic hopes depend on a win, but among the fatty old hackers at weekend races whose only skin in the game is the tender skin of ego. I know; my ego is as bloated and sensitive as the Hindenburg, and dog knows I’ve gone down the rat hole of the Wanky Diet at least once.
Still, for virtually every racer out there who is doing it for all that nonexistent fun we hear about, you’ll race better with plenty meat on them doggone bones.
Exhibit 1? Dandy Andy.
Dandy showed up fat and happy for the Rosena Ranch beatdown yesterday, gleefully gripping in his right fist a thick strip of bacon around his stomach that would have fed a camp full of hungry cowboys. “I need to lose weight!” he said, stretching out the bacon far enough that the zipper on his jersey shrieked at earsplitting decibels.
“Dude,” I said, “I hope you do. Because maybe it will slow you down. And if that zipper goes, someone’s getting hurt.”
Dandy and I rode together for years on Team Concentration Camp, where I experimented with the Kimchi Diet, consisting of salted cabbage and oxygen, and Dandy carefully weighed his oatmeal grains with a scales calibrated to micrograms. Neither of us raced worth dung.
Then a couple of years ago Dandy threw the scale in the dumpster and focused on the loves of his life, a/k/a the Three B’s, Bread Butter & Bacon. And his bike racing results went through the roof. Last year he manhandled most of the field at Rosena Ranch to get second, and this year he smashed the field in the second Ancient Duffers Category in CBR, riding a hard as nails 4-man break for 40 minutes to also climb on the podium.
Yesterday was a Dandy Tour de Force. He missed the winning two-man move, then punished the field for nine laps with repeated hammerings on the riser and into the wind on the backside of the course, then blew the field apart with two laps to go. A friend described it as “There was the break, there was Dandy’s four-man chase, and then there were bits and pieces wondering when the agony would end.”
Rolling into the headwind finish, Dandy attacked his break companions like a hungry shark and rolled in solo.
After the race he came up to me and grabbed the bacon. “Dammit Wanky, I gotta lose this stuff.”
I stared glumly, ruing the abuse he had rained down upon me for the past thirty miles. “Whatever, Dandy,” I said.
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