schmalz’s log 2017 week 5

Like any dutiful Pretend Bike Racer (PBR), I’ve developed a well-worn rut full of habits that aid me in my quest for mightiness. Each morning, upon waking, I weigh myself; then check my heart rate to see if I am tired or not (because “feeling tired” is not a true data point, dammit!) and then I plan my PBR day accordingly. I never started upon my career as a PBR with the intent of piling up rituals and turning my mornings into a daily “Dan Meat” evaluation, but that’s the nature of trying to be a PBR, you look around for ways to become faster or lighter or prettier in your tights.

It’s the nature of bike racers to create these inner worlds of habits that they think will make them mighty—it’s all part of creating the world of delusion necessary to keep coming back to get your keyster kicked in race after race. And I am sure that I am not alone in obsessive daily activities. I have the Facebook and I see what you guys are doing: you’re wearing puffy leg balloon devices for recovery; you’re eating and drinking like cavemen or wheat-phobic maniacs; you’re humble-posting Strava and Zwift rides (and since this is the world of bikes we’re talking about, there is always someone out there doing something shady—but oddly enough those pics don’t get posted anywhere—it must be difficult to take a selfie while injecting oneself). We all do these things (well, hopefully not the drug things) hoping that we can develop the magical mixture of activities and efforts that transform us from lumps of slowness to honed weapons of leg hair-free fury.

It’s insanity of course. But it’s an insanity that we love. PBRs are the types of people that need an extra layer of seriousness slathered upon their hobby bundt cake to make it enjoyable. We are the softball players wearing flip up sunglasses; we are the bowlers with wrist braces; we are the runners with compression socks and sleeves who run in the street instead of on the sidewalks. We are people who find joy in taking their leisure activities way too seriously. And you know what? It’s ok. Oxymoronically, obsession is fine in moderation. You just have to know when you’re becoming too obsessed. Weighing your food to control your weight? That’s probably a borderline activity. Weighing your food and buying a toilet seat scale (it’s a thing—lord help us) that tracks how much weight you’ve lost whilst “offloading”? That may be a sign you’re relationship with reality is “complicated”. It’s wise to look out for the signs of becoming too obsessed. Are you less productive at work? Are you losing touch with friends? Is someone divorcing you? Do your kids now call someone else “mom” or “dad”? These are telltale signs.

So my advice to the obsession-prone is to become slightly obsessed. Have only one power meter per bike. Use the puffy legs thingy for recovery, but don’t sleep in an oxygen tent. And obey the most important commandment of all—weigh your food, but not your poop.