In the past I've often compared amateur bike racing to a rolling bowling league or other more casual sports such as league softball, and those metaphors are apt—we don't this for money, no one watches us compete and the clothing we wear is routinely horrible. But I think it's time to modify my metaphor (and alliterate!), as there's a better analogy for describing what we do with ourselves. We are not so much a rolling bowling team or pedaling softball league, we are the tribute bands of the amateur athletic world.
Tribute bands are groups of musicians who, instead of writing their own songs or covering the songs of a variety of bands, concentrate on performing the songs of only one group, often adopting the styles, attributes and mannerisms of those groups. They also have clever or pun-y names. Kiss tribute bands are especially numerous, and have names like: Strutter, Love Gun, Deuce (not sure they thought all the potential double entendres about that name through) or Sad Older Guys Playing Pretend in Make-up (one of those band names is not a real band, can you guess which one it is?). The tribute bands inhabit a strange space in the world of music, a space much like the one we amateur racers live in.
Like our brothers in Sabbra Cadabra or Are We Them, we dress up like professionals (and in the case of some teams, we even design our jerseys to resemble a pro team's look, ahem, Bandits...) and we adopt their ways as our own. We try as hard as possible to look "pro". We use the same bikes, training methods, nutritional strategies and in some pathetic cases, the same drugs. Like the tribute bands, there's even the odd chance we get paid for our devotions, but like Kisstroyer, we are probably lucky to break even after paying for spandex, pyrotechnics and make-up.
The key to being a successful tribute band or pretend bike racer is to realize that you are dressing up and to not take your delusion too seriously. Enjoy the lunacy of your obsession. Go ahead and perform as No Way Sis, but for God's sake, don't do Gallagher Brother-levels of drugs and start fights with the members of 1964. Leave the costumes onstage. If you are in Coverboy, don't try to be Mike Reno at the gas station, as Mike Reno probably works at a gas station these days; and it would be confusing for the customers. And if you are a tribute bike racer, feel free to wear that dumb bandana like Il Pirata did while riding your bike, but please, please—don't do the drugs.
It's been another week of me performing "Hey Nineteen" as "Stealing Dan" (thank you, Google), the evidence can be found here.
On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.
The fall is here and winter will soon be upon us.