Tuesday, May 10, 2005

One Slight Problem

Behold the modern marvel of bicycle technology: 30 speeds, carbon fiber frame and fork, and a saddle designed not only to prevent genital discomfort but actually to enhance performance and pleasure in case a bike geek might actually get to have some sex.

The industry does its best to promote how bikes are easy to shift, comfortable to ride and come in shapes and sizes to go anywhere a person might want to ride.

Aye, there's the rub, and it's not your patent-medicine saddle failing to live up to its marketing. For all that the bike industry has done, they can't overcome the fundamental drawback to which people object.

You have to pedal it.

It doesn't matter how light you make it. It doesn't matter if the saddle is made of magical fairy fluff and blessed by the deity of your choice. It doesn't matter where you put the shifters, how they operate or whether they have little dials to tell you what gear you're in.

People don't want to pedal it.

The mountain bike boom happened to coincide with the American public's last flicker of interest in exercise. While the industry's hyperactive innovation gland contributed to the sport's demise, so did the majority's cumulative acceptance of their own inevitable decline and death.

Name some unpopular activities.

  • Flossing your teeth. They're your teeth. They're your gums. Dragging the little piece of string through there saves you time, you pain and you money. And yet it's too much trouble.
  • Eating sensibly. Sure, crappy food is tasty and fun food is usually bad for you. But getting your arteries Roto-Rootered or a chunk of your colon chopped out is expensive, painful and time consuming.
  • Exercising. See above. You can actually get away with a surprising amount of fun, bad food if you burn it off.

"Kick your addictions," he said, swigging cold coffee at almost 6 p.m. I don't claim to be perfect or even forgiven. I'm just reporting from the field. If you drive steel for a living, or labor in construction or industry, you probably don't need to swish around on some nancy-pants bicycle to get some exercise, although you could probably use some cardio there, big fella. And stretch. Try a little yoga to work out the kinks after a rough day on the oil rig. But that leaves a lot of other people who use one leg to push two pedals, brake and gas, to get wherever they're going.

Ah well. It quit mattering to me a long time ago what people do to themselves, as long as they don't do anything nasty to other people. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

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