Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Sadistic 6%, the Roadkill Experiment, and Another Doping Blah Blah

One thing never wears off when you ride a bike--the shock of nearly being run over.  This is a rare sensation for most Americans, since we are rarely ambulating around long enough to be in danger of being run over.  Going outside nearly always means going outside in a car.  

Until recently, I've fought a couple of stereotypes about drivers:  (1) some drivers actually go out of their way to endanger cyclists; (2) drivers of large vehicles--particularly trucks or SUVs--are more aggressive than others.  A recent study, spelled out in the video below, suggests that my hunches actually might have some substance, since it's no stretch assuming that folks who find pleasure in killing innocent turtles--turtles, for god's sake!--would surely get a similar pleasure from using their car in the same way on cyclists.

The study itself is fairly well set up--he uses a test, a control, and has a fairly decent sample size (n=1,000).   It provides good evidence of the asshole-amplification effect of driving a car.  Those who argue that cars, like guns, are purely liberty enhancing machines whose ill effects are best mitigated by proliferation, not control, of the devices, should maybe think about all the idiots out there who swerve to hit turtles--turtles, for god's sake!--and stockpile weapons for theater shooting sprees.

Not to mention, folks who take EPO to win Gran Fondues.

Humans can be sadistic bastards, and, Capital Bikeshare notwithstanding, cooperative ventures which count on self-monitoring, sadism-free, pacist populations will often fail.

Notice, I said often.  Most drivers don't swerve to hit animals, most cyclists don't dope, and only 1 in 300 million persons goes on a shooting spree of the kind that occurred in Aurora.  Still there are folks--I'll call them the sadistic SUV-ing 6%--who you might want to watch.  (Full disclosure - When not bike commuting, Paps picks up the laundry in a 200 metric-ton Maus.)

Most of us are content to be Cat 4 contenders.  That's why we have categories in cycling, so we can be the best at being mediocre.  Malt liquor, for instance, is something of a Cat 4 of alcoholic beverages; one won't find the words "vintage," "bouquet," or "tanins" bandied about when discussing it.  Still, there are some who pursue excellence within the limitations of the category. Dogfish Head makes a premier malt liquor it calls "Liquor de Malt;" it comes with an official Dogfish Head paper bag.

And that's really the spirit of MABRA bike racing--some of us are born with Category 4 engines.  We'll never be Cancellaras.  We're of an entirely lower physical category when it comes to bike racing.  Still, we can achieve a bit of improvement.  Those of us who train and work hard at it aim for merely being the Liquor de Malt, the best thing going that is drunk from a paper bag.

Those who dope, those who play god with guns or SUVS--they're really engaging in the same kind of fantasy.  They're stepping up a category of existence into something they're really not, and in so doing, they destroy themselves or become laughingstocks.

I'm committed to the idea of drug testing in MABRA.  It makes sense to me, and I'm willing to pay a few bucks or forgo winnings (trust me, that's not much of a loss for me right now) for this to happen.  But I hope the bigger thing we get out of this is more self awareness and humility.

Listen up, MABRA, and also you doping folks up in NY.  You're just malt liquor.  Get used to the idea.  It's not so bad.  Trust me on that.  You can get a little bit better, for a little while.  But then you're going to get old.  Trust Ol' Paps on that as well.

So swig deeply from the Liquor de Malt of life while you can, before the sadistic SUV 6% sees you on the road, and swerves.

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