March 5, 2008

Despite the naturally seasonal, yet perpetually unwelcome weather we have in Pennsylvania, racing season is here. That is, not in Pennsylvania quite yet, but the racing elsewhere has begun. The Tour of California just finished up, and two former Cycling Center members got a taste that action. Some of my JBCA team-mates just finished the Valley of the Sun stage race in Arizona. And Johan Bruyneel, despite having his hands full with the Tour of California, still took the time to check in on the JBCA squad at Valley of the Sun. The team had a couple of instances of bad luck, but from what I heard, everyone is in good form and ready for a great season.

Personally, I will start racing in about two weeks on the collegiate circuit, as there aren't too many local races nearby at this time of the year. Therefore, I decided to shave my legs the other day. My legs haven't seen sunlight in months; and they are so white that my eyes hurt to look at them. I figured it is probably about time to convert them from sasquatch-status to silky smooth since I will be racing soon. Don't get confused, I had semi-trimmed hair on my legs, but the white skin shined through so brightly that I had to wear sunglasses.

However, looking through the sunglasses in the shower, with shaving cream and a razor in hand, I noticed that up on the shower ceiling was the letter "N." This "N," however, was spelled out with daddy long leg legs. Yes, daddy long leg legs.

To give you some background, we had a friend that lived in our shower for a while. We even gave him a name, Squiggly Bo-bo. Squiggle Bo-bo was a daddy long leg. If you want to get technical, he was the Pholcus phalangioides species of spider. He was probably the coolest phalangioides, excuse me, coolest daddy long leg there ever was. Squiggly Bo-bo would tell you when you were taking too long in the shower. He never liked too much steam. He would also tell you things such as when you forgot to wash between your toes. It was to my dismay to see that some heartless soul took Squiggly Bo-bo's life. Now all that remains is two and a half of his legs stuck to the ceiling in the form of an "N." No one knows who the killer is, but if you have any leads then please don't hesitate to inform the authorities. It's a cruel world out there. We are going to miss you Mr. Bo-bo. Rest in peace.

Regardless of the loss of Mr. Bo-bo, I still have to train. Today I was out training with a friend when we came to a stoplight and some man started mumbling at us from his car. He said, "Hey guys! I just want to say that I've ridden mountain bikes, I've been on the road, I've even ridden 150 miles, (slight pause) on my motorcycle, and I think you guys should read the traffic laws. You are supposed to ride single file." I will admit my guilt, my training partner and I were riding side by side. A heinous crime, I know. But then I remembered Pennsylvania vehicle code 3505, section (e) to be exact, and swallowed my guilt. Long story short, we didn't do anything illegal.

I tried to correct the gentleman, as the state law for Pennsylvania permits cyclists to ride two abreast on roadways. I hope I was polite as that sounds, but I don't think I was. However, the man kept dismissing my suggesting with a "talk to the hand" type of gesture. Clearly this man was qualified to explain the law given his credentials. Let's review them shall we: 1) He rode a mountain bike a few times. 2) He has ridden a bicycle on the road before. And 3) He rode 150 miles one time.. on a motorcycle. Despite his outstanding qualifications, it is possible that one could deem him unable to read, or unable to count. Since he had studied the traffic regulations to the point of utter confidence, he either could not read the traffic regulations or could not count my training partner and myself. I did the calculations: one cyclist + one cyclist = two cyclists. This proof deems it mathematically impossible for my riding buddy and I to be more than two abreast. This gentleman is one of many motorists around State College, Pennsylvania who have what I call cyclefuria (fury of cyclists).

As it happens, I was on a group ride just yesterday when a pickup truck started driving absurdly slow in front of us after he had to wait to pass us. One of the members in my group ride, Joe, chased the truck for a while, but I suppose the driver did not want to stop for a brief discussion. Joe is a local to State College. He is notorious for cyclefuriamotorphilia (love of cyclist-hating motorists). And I say that in sarcasm.

As legend has it, a few weeks ago, a guy in a Porsche tried to drive Joe off the road. I'm not sure what happened next, but it led to Joe punching the mirror off of the Porsche. I will end this entry to congratulate Joe. I have chosen Joe to be my training bodyguard. If it comes down to car/truck vs. Joe, Joe is going to win. I solute you Joe. It's people like you that make dudes in Porsches think twice about running cyclists off the road. Now the roads are that much safer.

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American Jim Camut is entering his second year in the newly-minted Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy. Formerly known as the Cycling Center, the Belgium-based program turns out sophisticated, smart and strong bike racers. Australia UK USA