Friday, May 1, 2009

Top Five Mutant Bodies at the Tour of the Gila:

Cycling is an amazing sport, mainly because of how goddam unique it is -- where else do the fans have such unparalleled access to the stars? If you were to drive out to Silver City this weekend, you could wait by the road until we go by and literally reach out and touch the racers. You shouldn't reach out and touch Lance, but hell, you could slap him on the ass on the way up the climb if you wanted to.

Or what about the fact that racers of vastly different abilities can participate in the same event? Take Wednesday for instance: I counted not just one, but three guys sporting Camelbaks in our race. Two of these fellows opted for the "loud and proud," outside the jersey method, while the other guy "went dromedary," as they say. For those who don't know, wearing a Camelbak in a road race is akin to walking down the hall of your high school with a "kick-me" sign -- it absolutely SCREAMS inexperienced and unprofessional. In mountain bike races, sure it makes perfect sense. Actually, if you're at the Tour of the Gila with no support, a Camelbak isn't a bad way to insure you get enough water -- but the fact is they look silly, and they're uncomfortable.  It was pretty agonizing climbing that last five miles of the Mogollon with nothing but an empty, unzipped jersey; I can only imagine how much worse it would be with a sweaty bladder on your back and a rubber hose around your neck. A Camelbak is possibly the worst roadie fashion faux pas out there. That and unshaved legs. And yet, there they were, Lance and the Camelbak guys, hundred-million dollar mega-star and fish-out-of-water mountain bikers, riding side by side. 

Possibly one of the coolest aspects of this sport is the phenomenal range of body types competing directly. To illuminate my point, I've selected for you the top five mutant bodies of this year's Tour of the Gila. Here they are in no particular order:

Most Minute Male: Chris Hong
Chris is downright minuscule. He weighs 100 lbs even. I think he's twenty years old, but my goodness, he looks like he's fourteen! He's clearly got a motor, cuz he somehow does well on flat, hard, power races like Battenkill, but the guy just soars uphill. If he weren't a cyclist, he'd be a jockey. If he weren't a jockey he'd get teased a lot for being small. With guys like Chris, I feel bad that the UCI has a minimum weight standard for bikes; thanks to the (totally arbitrary) rules, Chris' bike weighs as much as mine does (right around the limit of 6.8 Kg), but as a percentage of his body weight, Chris is at a huge disadvantage. Actually....I take that back....I don't feel bad at all! Screw that! The last thing we need is to make that guy even faster uphill. 

Most Muscular: Bradley White

When it comes down to pure "muscles as percentage of body weight," Bradley White takes the cake. He's not a huge guy skeletally speaking, but my god, compared to the rest of us, he looks like goddam He-Man. His legs are downright frightening -- his bulbous, meaty calves and quads resemble large tropical fruits; if he didn't pedal so fast I'd swear he has implants. His arms look so strong that Bradley could probably excel at other sports too (something few of us can say). If he weren't a cyclist he'd be a running back. If he were a running back, he'd be a huge hit with the ladies I'm sure. However, instead of scoring touchdowns inside a stadium full of screaming girls, he chooses to shave his legs, don spandex, and spend his days wiggling his butt around on the slopes of some hill in the middle of nowhere. What the hell is he thinking? 

Hugest Human: Tom Zirbel

If Chris Hong the chihuahua of this year's Tour of the Gila, Tom Zirbel is the bull mastiff. He's a monster of a man: 200 lbs., wide hips and shoulders, huge chest cavity (complete with alien-like protrusion for extra air-breathing), and gargantuan thighs that, when riding next to him, conjure thoughts of race horses or Andre the Giant. Tom is one of the nicest guys in the race, and regularly shows us his goofy, toothy smile. He's also famous for the golden mullet seen flowing from the back of his helmet, thus earning him the nickname "Thor." That and his ability to swing one of the biggest battle axes the North American peloton has ever seen. For two years now, Tom has proven himself to be arguably the best domestic time trialist, winning last year's Gila TT, getting second at Pro nats (behind Zabriskie), and scoring a top 10 at this year's tour of Cali (he beat Lance, ok? the guy's a friggin' locomotive!). Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tom isn't his size, it's the fact that he still climbs very very well. Just think of the wattage that guy must be putting out to haul that giant body up those hills as fast at the shrimpy guys. 
UPDATE: Tom beat Lance again today, taking second in the Tour of the Gila TT.

Purest Pedaler: Lance Armstrong

No list of cycling mutants would be complete without a tip'o'the hat to the most morphed of them all, Lancy-Poo. By many metrics, Lance isn't an anomaly. He's not abnormally heavy, nor tall, nor skinny, nor small. In jeans and a tee shirt, he looks like a normal guy. But when riding next to him on a bike, I'm humbled by how much he resembles a greyhound: all legs and lungs. His chest is so friggin deep, he probably breathes twice as much air with each breath as I do. His legs, while not being the biggest legs out there, are ridiculously defined. He's got muscles I've never seen before -- they protrude from underneath the ones normal people have. Just look at those two pictures and see if you can tell them apart. (HINT: Lance doesn't wear a muzzle)

Most Breast-Like Calves: Ben Jacques-Maynes
Ben has huge melons....on the backs of his shins. This guy's calves are so bulbous, they sag when they're not flexed. Swear to god, if you put nipples on them, they'd look like boobs. If they weren't rock hard and veiny, they'd be nice boobs -- giant boobs so perky they'd have to be fake, but nice ones nonetheless. I couldn't find a good picture of his calves, but trust me, they're impressive. 

1 comment:

BradWhite SuperFan said...

Brad was a college swimmer and Ironman triathlete. That should help explain the massive muscles...