The Racing Chronicles - Fashion Tape

By: Bill Stone
Posted: Sep 23, 2011

My SRM is an expensive way of showing me how slow I am.
Steve Gaylor

Purge it of its corruption and it would become an impracticable government.
Alexander Hamilton
(Commenting on the British constitution which is not one document and thus it not capitalized)


First observed physiology tape on the shoulder of a female tennis player at the US Open a year or so ago. It was generic black and upon initial gaze mistook it for a large Mandarin Character body drawing or large insect. Thought even then it was just a matter of time before the self adhesive healing strips would show up on the limbs of courageous endurance stars. After all, the ubiquity of compression tights and hosiery preordained the demise of their usefulness as an explanation for futility.

Even the most credulous and empathetic begin to wane into weariness when presented with explications on loss of power attributable to venous insufficiency from traveling two hours in a seated position with calves below the horizontal. There is only so much excuse that can be worried out of an inconsiderate spouse laundering the compression tights as if they were just another pair of grandmother`s varicosity panty hose-about a hundred dollars difference to be mostly precise. The machine washes away the magic-just read the label. But, fancy tape is so much more. It announces courage. It demarcates the management of pain. It entreats against defeat occasioned by the fate of well earned injury. It screams never surrender. Panty hose is about preparation and post race palliative care; warrior tape is about beating the demons of connective disease decay. Support hosiery is the fluff of Oprah Line marathoners while sticky tape is for those with the Right Stuff. Mascara is for the ball; stenciled eye black is for the game. Fancy hosiery is for the Symphony fund raiser; players tape up for the game.

And so it came to pass that at that at the Bloomington Crit a couple of racers were observed adorned in `blue physiology adhesive.` It went more or less exactly as follows, sort of:

Self: Are you hurt?

Racer: More or less.

Self: What happened.

R: It started last winter when I was doing my pre season base training and I was doing some blasts on the computrainer. Well, I apparently was not ready for the intensity but you know I had done all the weight work, though perhaps not enough core, and so what I think happened was I got fatigued in my lower abdominal wall and thus was not able to handle the ten percent increase in my pyramid interval session. And so, when my abdominal muscles began to tire I overused my hip muscles and this caused me to turn my right foot in a dorsal direction that then caused me to really irritate my band width. So, I have paid the price of trying to get too fast too soon and it plagued me right through the spring training races.

Self: So, you racing today?

R: Well, you know I mostly am a road racer and well this is a criterium which is not really a road race, if you know what I mean. But, I really need the work and well this tape has really helped as it keeps my band within proper width limits and so I am going to give it a try but understand I am just using this for training and even at that it is nothing more than a level C+ in importance. If it were even a B race i would probably have to just forego it entirely least the effort to stay in a B position throughout the first half of the race could seriously impede my pre taper toward my planned training rest block.

Self: For what, it is July?

R: Oh, I just use the summer to prepare for the real season which begins in the Fall.

Self: Again?

R: You know, Cross. It is all about training for Cross. This is my last race of the pre cross season. After it I plan to take a two week break from the bike and then begin the slow buildup for the real racing season which begins sometime after the cross season.

Self: So, will the tape come off when you are really ready to race.

R: It depends.

Self: On what?

R: Well, when it is cold you have to wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.

Self: And?

R: Well you don`t need the tape if you can wear tight clothes.

Self: So it loses it usefulness when no one can see that you are wearing it.

R: Exactly.

Self: I think your race is getting ready to start in a couple of hours. Don`t you need to go warm up.

R: Oh wow, I think I forgot my warm up socks and trainer video. Got to run. Good luck today. Racing is complicated.

Doctor John`s Blog or the Sourness of the Long Distance Heart


Earlier this year an errant and ill considered post poking intended fun at the excitement of getting ready for cycle cross season before the end of June caused a most conscientious reader to question whether the Self actually raced a bike or was just a gadfly. Always looking for the sunny side of even a rhetorical question the take away was that being labeled a Provocateur was a compliment-and besides, it is only by stretching the most generous definition that what the Self does after strapping on a home detention monitor can be considered racing. Going around slowly in circles with other men over the age of twenty five is decidedly not up to the standard of going up a hill in a February Cat III event with four other serious fellows-efforts that are necessary in order to get ready for Cross-summer being so last century racing.

Alas, the reverie was but a wish, for after extending thanks for the post another observer from the heartland of serious cycling put a frown on the emoticon and cleared up any misapprehension. He noted: `Face it Stone, you are a stone cold hater, live with it.` ` Pureed by a pun` the staffers cajoled while stifling giggles. A friend offered no solace, `entirely appropriate that you have been chiseled by someone who has ridden with a Cutter.` He added that `no good is going to come of you pointing out that the actual derisive sobriquet used to refer to those who depended upon quarry work was `Stoner`.`

Apparently, historical accuracy was fixed so that a team of stoned riders would not be celebrated. But, if history were honored my friend wryly noted `you would have not been cut by a Cutter but stoned by a Stoner. Reluctant agreement was conceded but still what about being called a `hater.` Irascible, disagreeable, sarcastic, cynical, profane, annoying, liberal are understandable.

But, being a person who hates. This called for consultation and who would know better about unwarranted calumny than the Hero formerly known as MKA.

It also helped that he was in the next room:

S: Rog, he called me a hater.

MKA: You hate dopers?

S: Not particularly.

MKA: You hate `losing.`

S: Not so much as I`d actually diet and train.

MKA: You vote for Bristol Palin during Dancing with the Stars.

S: Every week. Though my favorite is Cheryl Burke.

MKA: Did you put the lid back on the coffee?

S: No, I was too upset.

MKA: Go fix it, now. Hating it seems is also quite complicated.

Though lovers be lost, love shall not And death shall hold no dominion Dylan Thomas

Nothing cheers like the opportunity to feint depthless concern over the misfortune of the respected. So it was that the Self`s pallor was treated to a sun overdose upon reading that Dr. John had been called `atrocious.` John Mandrola is the doctor you want. He is nice, smart, and best can be determined one of the best in a cutting edge field. He is irrepressibly cheerful, a doting father and married to an even more caring doctor who attends to the aged and dying.

But enough of the introductory fluff. What atrocity did Good Doctor John set into motion. A week ago he posted a blog entry that questioned whether training for and doing an Ironman was a particularly `heart healthy` undertaking. He dared to suggest that perhaps most men and women were not genetically designed for the requisite flogging.

Now, it is one thing for the Chronicles to poke fun at cyclists who by and large are decidedly bent toward laughing at their folly of pretending-Dreamers not with standing. It takes an entirely different innocence to expect chuckles from a Cult into which the cost of entry is a life spent in such taciturn reflection that the mere notion of riding endless hours while `taking nutrition` through a sippy straw is not recognized as just perhaps at least slightly not quite on. It is a credit to Dr. John`s confidence in the general goodness of man that he did not consider the harsh contretemps that were almost certain to come from those who have family members dressed up in Team Insert Name tees shirts who carry radios so what to appear spontaneously at just the right place when encouragement is most needed.

The `comments` to Dr. John`s Blog are proof that at least some if not most aspirant Iron People live obliviously in the throes of physic splits. For example a typical complaint was that it is far better to risk heart damage than to be an a morbidly obese chip eater. Yes, because, those are the only options, Ironman or the ravages of sedentary related disease. This `all of nothing` thinking is what behavioral psychologists refer to as a cognitive thinking error.

Of course John had suggested several other athletic goals including doing a shorter triathlon, as if anything short of an IR can stave off the gravity pull of a comfortable chair and large screen TV. Another comment theme was that John had not properly documented his prejudice. John,naturally, could not resist the bait and thus wrote a follow up providing all manner of citations to medical journals and what. Yeah, science has a whole lot of sway in a country that gets its medical advice from the health section of the Huff Post. What next John might write that doctors know more than Jenny McCartney or Deepak. But, our favorite theme was the ad hominen, as it`s always great fun to read about someone else being called out for being this or that or not what. The best of these was the prescient commenter who noted John `was probably a bitter and jealous man who had been in the midst of a nasty divorce.` (Note, the quote is from memory as the Staff is too lazy to look it up). Again, this is an example of another cognitive error, mind reading.

As if facts matter, John is the `anti bitter`. His hopeless cheerfulness would make Candide appear gloomy by comparison. As for divorce, the conclusion was apparently premised upon John`s Blog aside that training for an IM might be the cause of a divorce. Those who reside in compartment will take a joke as proof of a predilection. (That divorce might well be a salutary effect of IM training was something John refuses to address. Make of that what you must.)

Finally, there was the kindly conciliator who suggested that if the good doctor would just set aside his furies he too could one day experience the exhilaration of rounding the corner and hearing it announced to all four people who might care that `John Mandrola, you are an Ironman.` And that really is the rub. Being a doctor, father, athlete, writer and all around nice guy is hardly the stuff of which real men and women are measured. Indeed. But, it would be appreciated if John would stop writing `Grin` all the time. Just tattoo one on your ankle-like an Ironman.


There were bike races this summer past and by most accounts it appears that someone won almost everyone. This is good news.

Next time the Chronicles will write about a few. But first, there is one last race for which to train. The Hilly is only a few weeks away. While Druber may well have won the country`s hardest week long stage race, he has never won the Hilly.

Remember to dismount the bar stool before falling.
Bill Stone
September, 2011