May 21st, 2010

The Body Perfect, according to cyclists.

People ask me, "Dr. Behooving, why is my daughter anorexic and my son pumping iron as though he'll never breed otherwise?" Well, that's because they're not racing bikes. When I was a young man and first thinking of building my biceps, I was floored by advice given me by a former pro cyclist, that muscles like those were the enemy, and I would be better off, actually, carrying fat. Muscle weighs more than fat, he explained, and can't be turned back into food during the course of a stage race. I was being introduced to a whole new view of the body.

Principally, cyclists are concerned with the size of their hearts. As for visible muscles, lower back obliques come before pectorals. To ladies with thunder thighs and big bums, I say come to the church where you're worshiped! On the few occasions when I've packed on a few kilos myself, I've been able to shed them in weeks, simply by telling myself that it's okay to feel hungry. I pity guys with broad shoulders and big arms. All of that luggage! 

Now to the question of girth. When I see a big bellied cyclist, it might cross my mind that they're eating too many biscuits and bangas. I might also rule them out as threats on long climbs. But really, I'm only concerned with their hearts. And a lot of overweight cyclists really can keep the oxygen pumping around those big bodies. And they're often powerful sprinters. 

The other thing about cycling, is the helmets cover our heads, meaning your daughters are less likely to request $300 a month for their hair. Neither do helmets encourage those beastly sucked-mango style hairdos so popular among muscle bound boys.