Wednesday, July 21, 2004

le tour for loosers™

it's how i have fun these days.

gerolsteiner has an ad that runs in the middle of zdf's tour coverage. it features everyday people riding on everyday bikes, being given bottles of water and cheered by the gerolsteiner team. they run next to those everyday riders shouting "allez! allez! allez!"

the ad perfectly illustrates what i call "le tour for loosers"™ or ltfl™: riding your bike and feeling like you're part of the peloton of the grand boucle. - even though you are -quite obviously- not riding 200km a day for three weeks in a row, not riding in the alps, and not really as much into torturing yourself as the folks who actually do ride in the tour: you're just on your way to the supermarket or the gym or at a spinning class.

last week, i went to my first spinning class in months. - somewhere along the line i must have forgotten how much i enjoy it. - otherwise, i can't really understand why i haven't been to one in so long. it's the perfect cardio for me, cycling. it's the perfect way to move.
sure, i've been riding quite a bit on my own heavy, boring, old trekking bike, but that just ain't anything but getting from a to b, even if i do ride fast and furious (i usually kick big gears: i've got big thighs, they like big gears. i'm like jan ullrich, he.). my everyday riding surely isn't as fun, as taxing, as endorphine-high laden as spinning. how do i love thee? let me count the ways...

i went on wednesday morning, to a class by aline. she isn't one of my fave instructors: her classes are usually quite boring, and her spinning classes are no exception. however:  who needs an instructor when you've got the "le tour for loosers™" concept?

good instructors sneak "ltfl™" into their teaching during spinning. they tell you that you're a domestique fetching water for the captain, so you have to cycle extra hard, all alone while the rest of the class just spins. they tell you just how the road feels below your wheels. they make up road chases and split the class into competing teams. they turn the whole thing into a communicative, fun, imaginative, sweaty hour.
aline doesn't do any of that: she changes the songs, yes, and they are good songs, too, she tells you what you're supposed to do, but she doesn't actually "instruct" or "guide" the class. duh. i wonder how she ever got her spinning certificate.

it didn't matter much last wednesday, that she's such a lousy instructor. i have "le tour for loosers™", after all. i can guide myself.

it's easy, too.
when cycling, imagine tour scenes.long chases through quaint little villages. break-aways. mountain descends. sunflower field. heat. rain. your team in front, leading, like le train bleu. the colors of the peloton. the fans. classic tour stages, tour city, team time trials and classic tour mountains, the tourmalet, the col de la madeleine, mont ventoux.
at the end of class, during the final climb, i pictured myself riding up l'alpe d'huez, people cheering "allez! allez! allez!", my name on the road, the 21 switchback turns, the blue aquarel gates giving the distance left to run, didi senfft as the devil at the red flag, the whole deal. it was fun. so much fun.

"le tour for loosers™" works outside of spinning classes, too.

it works every time you're riding a bike.
use it when chasing green lights, telling yourself that you're a sprinter, needing just a few more points at that time point (the traffic light) to get you into the green jersey. if you're a pro at ltfl™, for added difficulty, imagine that you have to stay away from robbie mcewen's elbows. imagine that that person riding behind you is robbie mcewen.

use climbs, no matter how tiny, to the max: get out of your saddle, swing the bike, imagine you're on mont ventoux, being chased by pantani in his best days.

enjoy the turns. on the way to my gym, i ride through a park that has some nice ones, plus a little tunnel followed by a tiny little ascend: it's the best part of my way to the gym.

and well, above all: race.

other people in this bike crazy city have doubtlessy discovered ltfl™, too: at traffic lights, there is always a race. always. the pensioners with their 2000€ mtbs, tight biking shorts and "black forest ultra" bags on their backs are the worst: they are unbeatable. they are the lance armstrongs of ltfl™ traffic light races.
you can not pass them, ever, and if, by some strange little twist of fate, you do, they chase after you until they lead again at the next traffic light. they are like eddie merckx, lots of little cannibals, who want to stand at the next red light before you do. there is so much aggression in those little races between the red lights on basler landstrasse that i don't think the tension between ullrich, klöden, basso and armstrong on the last 500m up to villard de lans yesterday was much different.

le tour for loosers™.
next stage: tonight. i'm going to another spinning class. beware.
and yes, chances are, it will be a mountain time trial. what else could it be?