A life in the day

4/24/2005

Crazy Cyclists?

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:14 pm

I’ve been teasing cyclist friends for years about their obsession with the weight of their equipment. Many serious competitive cyclists will spend a great deal extra money on a component that weighs fifty grams less than the cheaper one. Fifty grams! Their own body weight is sure to fluctuate more than that from day to day. How can their equipment’s weight make such a big difference? They always insist with some hand-waving argument that there is a real difference between their own body weight and the weight of their equipment.

Well, I’m starting to wonder if there really is something to it. I’ve been taking long walks most days, a 4.2 mile (6.6 km) loop through our hilly neighborhood. In the middle of it I run for about 1 km (.62 mi.) I’m not in good enough shape yet to run much further. I start out running up a very gradual uphill, then flat, downhill, flat, and back up a steeper hill. I’ve never made it to the top of this (fairly short, but hey, I said I was out of shape!) hill. But I’ve noticed that there seems to be a correlation between how far I make it and whether I’ve locked up one of my dogs before I leave.

Now, wait. There is logic there. I always take along Ballou, my Newfoundland cross. He’s younger, more energetic, and able to keep up. I have to have him on a leash, though, or he’ll run free. Our older dog, an epileptic yellow lab named Mowgli, loves to tag along, and he can run free for almost the entire walk. I have to leash him for the last stretch, which is a busy, windy, and hilly road. But this means I have to carry a leash for him the rest of the way. I carry a leash that splits into two ends which I attach to both dogs, since the short handle I use for Ballou doesn’t work well when I have another dog attached too. And I use a choke chain on the end of it or he’ll pull out of his collar when he decides he’s too tired to keep up. This whole setup probably weighs a pound and a half (.7 kg.)

I don’t always take Mowgli along. I’m doing this walk for excercise, and he slows me down and frustrates me, even when I’m letting him trail behind.

When I don’t have him with me, and the leash is hanging on the gate at home, I can run further up the hill than when he’s by my side. Is it coincidence? Possibly. Is it the extra weight? I’m starting to wonder. But I check the scale most mornings and know that my day-to-day weight fluctuates significantly more than the weight of that leash. Are these crazy cyclists actually onto something?

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