Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dr. Spalm Answers More Reader Questions

Today, another oldie from Dr. Spalm.  We will return to your scheduled program shortly.  In the meantime, have a locally made brewski and be amused, horrified or enlightened by Dr. Spalm.

Dr. Spalm - I am an organizer of a local racing team. We have a bunch of riders and cover all categories, from first-time racers to experienced and fast folks. After an unfortunate and nauseating experience last year, I am interested in instituting a new rule that would limit the purchase of skin suits to those team members who are really skinny enough to not gross people out. Any suggestions?
Open-minded, but not THAT open-minded

Dear Mostly Open-Minded:
Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. A few years ago Dr. Spalm was actively petioning Wal-Mart to stop selling white cotton/lycra stretch pants to women that should NOT, under any circumstances, be wearing such garments. These poor women apparently did not own mirrors, nor were they aware that to cut costs, these pants had a limited amount of fabric that was forced to stretch extraordinary distances to cover their subjects. As such, these pants became lattice-like and see-through and not movie star "how could I have not known that when the paparazzi took flash pictures these intimate body parts would be "accidentally" exposed" see through, but instead "Omar the Tent-Maker had 3-packs of these panties with teddy bears on them" see through. Let's just say that Wal-Mart was steadfast in their stand that women of ALL sizes should be able to wear cotton/lycra stretch pants, but thankfully they have fallen out of fashion.

So, where does that leave us with skin suits. You might consider some simple objective tests, such as a percentage body-fat test or a BMI index rating. You might also consider pointing out to these large, or more likely, extra-large, riders that their speed on a bicycle is not being limited by the aerodynamics of their clothing as much as the extra weight being supported by their bike frame. However, these might all lead to uncomfortable conversations in which reality is unpleasantly imposed on the dreams of these undertrained and overfed riders. Instead, I suggest that you tell them the skinsuits are not made in their sizes and if they persist in finding factual information to the contrary, the best option is to lose their orders and ask them to wait until next year when team clothing is re-ordered.

Lastly, I would like to make it clear that Dr. Spalm is not opposed to extra large riders (Chapeau mon ami, Rider 3), but is merely opposed to skinsuits (or white cotton/lycra stretch pants) on these generously-proportioned and jolly riders.
Dr. Spalm

Dr. Spalm - After the usual middle-age process of having kids and getting ahead at work, I have put on a few pounds and need to get active again. I really want to do a triathlon, but the only bike I have is a mountain bike I bought at Costco. Do you suggest I ride that or buy another bike? I really like the looks of the time trial bikes.
Trying to Tri

Dear Very (Trying that is):
I am not sure how to answer you. It leads to a number of questions I have. Putting aside the question of why anyone would want to do a triathlon, my answer would be either a) Are you serious? (said ironically), or b) Are you serious? (said seriously).

The only thing sillier than trying to train for and complete a triathlon on a department-store style mountain bike would be buying a special purpose time trial bike before you have started riding or training for a triathlon. Actually, maybe the reverse is truer. I'm not sure.

Here is my suggestion. First, go ride the bike you have. Ride it as fast as you can for approximately the distance you plan to ride in the triathlon. Immediately after completing this distance, if you then feel the strong urge to hop off the bike as fast as you can and start running, preferably a marathon, then maybe you're right that triathlons are appropriate for your future.

As a second test, I suggest that you sit down at a bar with some appropriate beverage in front of you. Briefly consider the distance the drink sits in front of you. Now, put the drink at least two bar seats away from you and then reach out to try to drink from it from this position. If you find that this new position is preferable to your starting position, then a time trial bike might be a good option for you.

Lastly, regardless of these tests, if you find that you can't ride a bike in a straight line, you probably are a born triathlete. Good luck.
Dr. Spalm

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