The fact that I needed about six terry-cloth towels to sop up the sweat on my recumbant spinning bike in the basement of the Beverly Hilton (where I am auditioning for the part of Laurent Fignon as an obese, Proust-obsessed teenager in a Spielberg vehicle about Greg Lemond traveling back in time to win three additional Tours de France, including 1999, 2000, and 2001) reminds me:
I had a friend who was a pretty serious roadie. He'd recently gotten back into racing. Having been a cat-1 masters racer in his late thirties, he'd dominated local road races in Southern California. But then he hit a plateau where he just wasn't improving anymore, and his results started to slip, and he "left" the sport in disgust. Now that sort of mindset and response to negative stimulus is not common among average genetically impaired, former-cigarette-smoking, mid-pack riders with six-pack love handles like myself, but what's even more offensive is that he came back into the sport after 10 years off for the worst possible reason: A wattage meter. Convinced that he'd topped out due to sloppy training, he felt a wattage meter was the key to his triumphant return. But he was a bit of a pinchpenny too, so he got tremendously excited about this massive Star Trekky device that you attach to your handlebars that looks like a small mailbox.
The advantage of this thing was that it did not cost $10,000 like most hub- and crank-based wattage meters. For the price of a really good bottle of Scotch, this device would crank out the numbers for even the most geeky legshaver. Based, I think, on the weight of the rider, wind speed, and even an internal altimeter and GPS, the thing was supposedly accurate to within very narrow margin of error.
"And the thing weighs 300 grams less than a hub meter!" my friend exclaimed to me, after crushing me up Ohio hill.
"So how can it possibly know your wattage without measuring any actual resistance in your drive train?" I asked.
"Simple. You just program your weight, then it calculates wattage based on speed and elevation. Uh. Look the algorithms are way too complicated for your miniature brain."
"Does it factor in your weight loss during the ride, due to sweating? I mean, it's not uncommon for me to weigh like five pounds less after a long hot ride.¹ That must muck up the data, right?"
There was along moment of silence. And then I thought I saw a few tears trace a line down his cheek.
And then he bawled like a little baby, laying in the street and pounding his fists and his Sidi Dominators into the macadam.
¹Which I promptly replace with large quantities of good American lager and a chili-dog, where available.
An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.