Cyclist WIN is scientist FAIL

As many of you already know1, I’m currently in training for a 260 km (160 mile) bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle. Having my parents in town has hampered my training efforts somewhat, but they were bobbing around somewhere off the coast of Alaska this last weekend, giving me the opportunity to head out for two nice long rides.
I managed just over 90km on Saturday – my longest ride to date – and felt fine until the final few hills. (Why oh why did I ever think it was a good idea to buy a house at the top of a big hill, just a few blocks away from the highest point in this very hilly city? Every damn ride ends with a steep climb).
Getting back on my bike the next day, I felt significantly less fine. The first descent was OK, but then I had to haul myself up another hill before I could start coasting down to the lovely new skytrain / bike / pedestrian bridge over the river.
At this point, I got stuck behind two slower cyclists who were having a lovely chat about their dogs. You know when you’re behind someone who’s going slowly enough that it feels frustrating, but not quite so slowly that you can pass them quickly and safely? It was one of those situations, which are a constant source of minor irritation on my daily commutes and weekly training rides. With all those kilometres ahead of me still to cover, I knew I had to step it up a notch and push past them. But, ouch.
At this point, I became aware that the two men were talking about a phantom pregnancy. In a dog.
Now, this was interesting stuff! I didn’t know that non-human animals could have phantom pregnancies! I thought it was a human psychological condition, not something strictly biological! How fascinating! (And how convenient!)
The following debate ensued:
Cyclist brain: “hurry hurry hurry! Get past them! What are you waiting for?! Gotta cover those kilometres! And think of your average speed!”
Scientist brain: “but this is interesting! I’m a scientist, damnit, and I want to listen some more!”
Cyclist brain: “no pain no gain! Gotta train, gotta train!”
Scientist brain: “a phantom pregnancy! In a dog! I want to know what happened next! This is SCIENCE!!!
Legs: “I agree with the scientist”
Cyclist brain: “Shut up, legs!”

(photo link posted on Facebook last week by my crazy Ironman triathlete friend)
Legs: “NO! Scientist brain needs science! And why do you have to be such a bee-hatch?”
Scientist brain: “word”
Cyclist brain: “dude. 260 km. In five weeks. You are gonna DIE out there if you don’t do what I say.”
Slower cyclist: “Oh, do you want past? Sorry, I was too engrossed in my conversation”
Me: “me too2
So I got past them, did 63km in total, and never did get to find out how or why a dog would have a phantom pregnancy.
Does anyone know of a t-shirt I can buy that says “shut up, scientist brain”?

1 and are no doubt sick of hearing about. Sorry! Don’t worry, just another 33 days to go!

2 I didn’t really say that. But I should have. I thought they might think I was crazy – it’s an easy assumption to make when I’m all red faced and sweaty like that, with unruly hair flying around my face. I’ve been too busy training and hosting guests to get a hair cut!

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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4 Responses to Cyclist WIN is scientist FAIL

  1. Bob O'Hara says:

    Can’t you design a t-shirt and put it on CafePress? I’d buy one.

  2. Åsa Karlström says:

    Love it! So, I take it the ride is divved up in two days and you are scared about the second day?! I would be terrified, especially about the hills but maybe there aren’t too much hills on the way to Seattle? 😉
    I’m looking forward reading about your ride and time!

  3. Stephen Curry says:

    Brilliant stuff Cath – just brilliant!

  4. Cath Ennis says:

    Bob, I’ll look into that. Although I don’t imagine there’s that much of a market. And it might not be an entirely safe thing to wear in public…
    Åsa, thanks! Yeah, it’s the 2nd day that worries me. I’ve been told that last year’s route was relatively flat (i.e. flatter than the city of Vancouver, which isn’t really saying much), so hopefully it’ll be the same this time. I’m trying to do a mixture of hill and flat training, because there’s no point being solely used to pushing up a big hill then coasting down the other side if the actual route is mostly flat, where you have to cycle continuously – a very different kettle of fish! I have to go to Richmond to train on the flat though; there isn’t any in Vancouver unless you try and ride on the sea wall, which is full of really slow people who make you stop all the time.
    Stephen, thanks!

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