Jumat, 09 Juli 2010

Fredfest 2010

I will try not to be an ass..

While I try to espouse kumbayah and there’s room for all in the big tent philosophies; this is a satiric post

Here in the Northwest the rite of passage for cyclists is the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride. It covers 200 miles and can be done in one or two days and is generally flat and very doable. The STP is held in mid July, and with summer traditionally starting July 5th there are not a lot of dry training days for STP riders. To prepare properly you have to start before May, which means riding in the rain. Lots of people wait for sun to ride. The result is the weeks before the STP the bike paths are jammed with seasonal cyclists trying to make up for lost training time.

Hottie on the left, Freds on the right

The STP itself gives one an opportunity to ride with eight to ten thousand of your closest cycling friends. If you are thinking it would be great to do a bike ride with ten thousand riders who know how to ride in pacelines, and are familiar with all of the courtesies of large rides, you are correct. The STP, sadly, is not that ride. I can’t back it up with statistics; but I believe there is a huge percentage of riders who do this one event each year and put the bike away the next day for ten or eleven months. Seeing a peloton on TV and knowing how to ride in a paceline or a group are very different. I have seen stupid crashes (pulling on a friend’s aerobars to help him up a hill….crash, surprise!) on this ride as well as pacelines with sixty riders, none of whom knew each other. It does have great support and a high percentage of riders finish, but it can be scary.

I recall renting a car in the UK and driving on the left side of the road for several days. When I was returning the car at Heathrow to fly home I would always breathe a sigh of relief that the ordeal was done. I had that same feeling the last time I finished the STP. I was glad to be unscathed. Most serious cyclists, including myself, are happy to skip this one.

You can spot the STP riders by the following indicators.
Helmet number – They never remove their number from the last STP, but consider it a badge of honor. It is in fact a flag of Fred and it helps us cynics to stereotype at a faster rate. I have even seen one guy who put clear packing tape over the number to preserve it.
Tyvek Jackets – In some years every entrant gets one of these portable stinky saunas. Designed for standing they expose several inches of forearm when in a riding position. It is tough being a Fred.
Camelbacks – While great for the trail, they look goofy on the road. This isn’t Arizona..
Toe Straps – Aside from spin class (and you should still have SPD shoes in there) there is no good reason to have toe straps on a bike. Arguing with me on this is a waste of time.
Cotton – You don’t see many riders without bike shorts, but you will see plenty wearing short and long sleeve T-shirts.
One outfit – I was this guy once – The way you spot these cyclists is they are wearing shorts and a short sleeved jersey when it is 45 degrees. The bright red arms and legs are the giveaway.
Gardening Gloves – No elaboration needed.

In late June and early July the bike trails are crowded with these Freds. The routes that are deserted in February come June are crowded with bikes, joggers, moms with strollers, rollerblades and recumbents. You can’t take your riding too seriously on the trails or you lose your mind.

No annoying clicking sound when you step on or off these pedals...

Your lips are cracked and bleeding from saying “on your left” so many times if feels weird when you don’t say it for a minute or two.

As the STP date gets even closer you can spot the panic in people’s eyes. Each day of July gets crazier and crazier. At the same time, the folks who are just weekend riders and not doing the STP flood the bike trails.

With the damp spring and non-summer we’ve had, we are so grateful for a sunny weekend we’ll be out there enjoying the Fredfest like everyone else. You may spend the weekend riding a bike and pointing at me and saying, “what a Fred.”

Hottie and a clear stretch of trail !!

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