The New York Times rocked my cycling buddies last weekend with the piece in the Style section about how cycling (and other extreme sports) have become the power-activity of the elite in Silicon Valley. Being a fanatical cyclist, I was heartened to see the piece confirm what I suspected for sometime — getting up one’s lactic threshold is the modern measure of a person’s business potential, the cardiovascular equivalent of what my step-brother once told me: "If you want to size up a person’s character, then play a round of golf with them."
I despise golf for reasons of tedium and personal inepititude, but respect the passion for it that other people have. It is certainly a much more social sport — you’re never out of breath and you get to chat amiably during the cart ride from hole to hole — but it has never clicked with me. Cycling however, well, there is little or no opportunity to chat a person up while drafting their rear wheel at 30 kph or dogging it up a hill standing on the cranks. But there is a great chance to see how a person holds up under immense pain and suffering — 60 miles in the saddle will give anyone a chance to throw in the towel or aquit themselves as a true team player when it comes to be their turn to lead the paceline and haul their mates through a headwind.
The Times article (which I dare not link to due to their weird archiving process), made me wish, very fervently, that I was working in Silicon Valley and not Greater Boston, when cycling shut downs every winter. True, I do ride through the winter on my fixed-gear, and hit the road in earnest at the first sign of spring, but I would like the opportunity to put in 50 miles a day each and every day and not have to worry about snow, windchill, and the corrosion that road salt will do my bike frame.
Yesterday I taught a seminar on Web publishing to some colleagues at IDG and spent some time demonstrating the nebulous concepts of Web 2.0 by introducing them to the concept of mashing — I showed them Google Maps, then I showed them the Google GMAP Pedometer, and then showed them how I build bicycle routes and then share them with other through this site, Roadbikereview.com, and finally, tag them with de.icio.us tags so others can find them.
The demo clicked and seemed to work beautifully, illustrating:
- The power of the long tail — geeks who cycle
- The power of open architectures — Google Maps being overlaid with the Pedometer
- the power of tagging
- The power of community
As an aside and anecdote — two summers ago I purchased a wonderful Italian racing bike frame on EBay and rode it with great glee and pride until the salt Cape Cod air got the better of it. I took it to a frame painter in Worcester, MA — Toby Stanton at Hot Tubes. Toby beadblasted some of the rust of it and condemned the frame as unrestorable. Seeing my sadness he handed me a used LeMond frame from the Saturn Racing Team (a pro team he used to coach). It was the bike ridden by Viktor Rapinski (now on the Swiss Phonak Team). You can’t imagine my delight to have a "celebrity bike."
Now if I only had the sunny clime to ride it in, and the cycling buddies to make it a power ride.