If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone, usually of heft, claim that being fit doesn’t guarantee longevity in life I’d be retired in a villa overlooking a mountain in North Carolina (or maybe Tennessee) with an in-ground pool carved into the mountain (technically I’d probably live lower down on the mountain so I didn’t have to climb the thing after a long ride, but I digress). My favorite is when people cart out the old, “so and so had a heart attack and they were a world renowned runner who even wrote a book”… Shocked, jaw dropped amazement is usually followed by an educated, detailed explanation of why fitness is so important. Studies are quoted, etc..
In other words, those who choose to maintain fitness tend to treat that comment with way too much seriousness. I would like to suggest this line instead:
Fitness may not guarantee longevity but lack of it guarantees brevity.
The point is this: We know why those fitness gurus died early and their conditions can be tested for, easily. In addition, the “fitness guru died” excuse is just an excuse to ignore reality and a conversation. Even if there were any truth to the fear, I’d rather die fit, mobile, happy and hard than soft, miserable and unable to walk a flight of stairs without breathing hard and heavy.
I simply lack the ability to be fat and happy at the same time.
Now, where we get into trouble, and I see this all too often as well, the growth of fitness works better when we concentrate on attraction rather than promotion. We can get into trouble when brutal honesty is chosen over plain old honesty.
Some (including some very seasoned cyclists who I ride with regularly) would rather opt for complete non-confrontation, allowing noobs to learn on their own. While I do see the wisdom in this approach, I am a different kind of person. I am one of those rare few who possesses the ability to understand that I won’t walk right into something brand new and expect to understand all of the intricacies without a little help from those who came before me. I actually appreciate some sound advice where it’s needed. Cycling, because its traditions are so strictly adhered to by those in the know, provides the perfect backdrop to examine this a little more closely…
A case in point: Two years ago, a noob showed up to our advanced club ride on an old steel ten speed. His jersey was half tucked into his shorts, no-no number one, and his tighty-whities were sticking out of the waistband of his shorts as well… In other words, he’d tucked his jersey into his underwear. Now, much to my surprise, he could actually ride fairly competently (meaning in a straight line). On the other hand, those undershorts had to be killing him. So one of the guys and I exchanged smirks and I suggested maybe I should let him know that underbritches are kind of not needed with proper cycling shorts – this is what I would want. He, on the other hand, suggested that I leave it alone, that the kid would figure things out in due time…
See, I’d rather know as soon as possible that I’m a dork rather than find out on my own a year down the road and wonder why nobody cared enough to let me know I was committing such an egregious faux pas. Like I said, I am a rare bird, I know. The other side of that coin are the people who embarrass easily and would rather figure out their mistakes on their own, hoping against hope that nobody caught their error. I can certainly understand that side too.
When I was a noob, I didn’t have a whole lot of money to put into cycling. I had a decent bike that I’d bought used, but my clothing was at the lower end of the scale. My shorts were ultra cheap, I wore white cotton crew gym socks (an absolute no-no) and in cold weather, rather than the proper leg warmers, I was relegated to riding in my wife’s old running tights. On more than one occasion my choice of attire was brought to my attention, nicely of course. My answer, every time, was simply that I couldn’t afford anything better at the moment but I’d take their advice as soon as I could. This was the end of the conversation – it was never taken further. Unfortunately for some, copping to the fact that you don’t have enough disposable cash to shill for expensive gear is looked at as embarrassing. I can only speculate as to why as I am not afflicted with mistaken belief.
All of that said, there is no law against being a jerk and unfortunately, jerks know this. I read a post last evening written by a woman who took exception to the derision of another woman (by a woman I might add) who was lifting five pound weights. Her point was that she was worried that the woman would quit because of the way she was treated… I see that side of it, I do, but if I quit every time I felt less than, I’d have been relegated to the couch years ago, yearning for what I have now.
Tis a pickle.