The thing I like most about racing bicycles is the conflict. It’s a pure test of skill and athletic prowess that is so absent in modern life, to our detriment as a society in my view. Rare, for instance, is the wrestling match at the water cooler, or the office-wide foot race. Unless, of course, someone brought doughnuts.
These heightened spirits and the free flow of adrenaline during a race, however, can lead racers to do things they might not normally do, such as yell at one another. At the track, for instance, there is a fair amount of yelling, and the road peloton has its share as well. For the most part, people don’t take offense, and as soon as the race is over everyone is friendly again.
Some styles of bicycle racing are more yelly than others, the bike leg of a triathlon being the least yelly of all. This is because triathletes are rarely pedaling themselves to the doorstep of pain, choosing instead to come within sight of the cul de sac where pain lives and stay in the car. After all, they have to have something left for the run. I have heard a few yell about having to climb hills, but that’s more of an audible lament than a directed attack.
I’ve been yelled at most while practicing the Madison, thanks to the chaotic and necessary dance up and down the track that all racers must do. It’s hard to understand what’s going on, even when you’re in the race.
Some of the riders in the video above are racing, and others are trying to get into the race, and only they themselves have any idea which is which.
Oddly, the seemingly minor changes of shrinking the track, flattening it out, and swapping bicycles for rollerskates takes this mostly good-natured conflict and attendant yelling to diabolical extremes. Yes, if you get mixed up in a rollerderby conflict, you’re likely to get bombed, and I’m not talking about the kind of bombed you get when your Cheryl has left and you just got paid. I’m talking about for-really-real bombed. Like with a bomb.
MOBILE, Ala. — What started as a simmering team dispute earlier this year on the Mobile Roller Derby team apparently escalated into a pair of bombings at the roller skating rink the team uses in Tillman’s Corner and two attacks on the home of the organization’s president.
Now, I happen to know that we have a vibrant community of rollerderbyists in Atlanta, and I know them to be fierce competitors, but I think this may be a bit too fierce. If only more of those women would come race bicycles at the track instead, perhaps they could shout out their differences instead of resorting to bombs an arson. I don’t think Mobile has a velodrome, though, so that could be a problem.
Let’s face it, life can be frustrating and frustration hurts. It can tie you up in knots and make you want to strip nude, demand a cabbie drive you to your home a thousand miles a way, then steal the cab in question when he isn’t looking. This is not productive behavior and neither is planting bombs or starting fires.
Let’s all race bikes and yell at one another instead, I say!