Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dead Angels.

You know that bit from the Simpsons, where Homer finally infiltrates the top-secret Stone Cutters group? Homer goes up to Lenny and Carl, where Lenny reveals the Stone Cutters ranking system (Lenny is number 12, and Mr Burns is 29) which has no reflection on the conventional every day hierarchies. This leads to a hilarious sequence where Lenny calls Mr Burns over and kicks him in the ass, only for Mr Burns to say: "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Trust me, I tried to avoid the laboured nature of the above paragraph, and simply find the clip, but yet again I failed to do so. What that whole sequence does remind me of, though, is how similar the cycling, and more specifically the racing world, is to the stonecutters world.

There's a running joke in bike racing that you have to be prepared to be beaten by people half and twice your age, which is pretty much bang on the truth. But it's not just that they are faster than you, it's the fact that they thus garner more respect: they are higher up in the cycling hierarchy.

If I had met the kid who won B grade at Coburg the other week on the street, I would have dismissed him as some pimply 17 year old, perhaps with a penchant for Linkin Park. But ever since he obliterated me in a sprint, I kind of feel I should at least say hello, and maybe congratulate him on his win.

It goes the other way too. Last year at the Northern Combine some old dude, with an expensive car came up to me, asking lots of questions and advice. I played it cool, despite having no idea myself. But there it was again: you can bet this bloke wouldn't have been asking for tips from some clueless twenty something muppet, if it were in relation to anything but cycling. Not his investment portfolio anyhow.

They (who?) say cycling is a great leveller, that whatever your income or view of life, you can bond over the shared experience of riding a bike. This is, of course, bullshit, and simply code for: you too can be shelled from the bunch by a small boy who still hasn't grasped the difference between 'they're' and 'their'. Don't blame him though, he's not stupid...they just haven't covered it in school yet.

It's not that cycling dismisses hierarchies, as some claim it does, it simply re-jigs them. Investment bankers grovel for young men doing apprenticeships, those young men give real thought to just how the hell they are going to beat the old fox who's been hatching break way plans since 1983. And that's not to mention our collective admiration for the pros, some of whom only seem capable of stringing together such gems as "I had lactic acid coming out of my ears." Well done Fabian.

If any of this has any real repercussions, it's the hilarity of watching said investment banker, rolling along in C grade, stoked on his recent dominating victory in D grade, be torn to shreds by aforementioned plumbers apprentice who, while ripping along in A grade, has the time to yell: "Hold your line fuckwit, A grade coming through!"

Consider yourself levelled.

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