most recently i read on an american tech website, and this was prior to the untimely demise of apple computer's erstwhile leader, steve jobs, that if it were necessary to separate the word 'nerd' from that of 'geek', the former applied to microsoft founder bill gates and the latter to steve jobs. for those not especially interested in the personalities rampant in silicon valley, this may not bring any greater degree of knowledge regarding such literary definitions than was the case prior to reading the above, but the difference may be important in respect of the subject under consideration.
placing the entire situation in some sort of perspective, though we may bristle at the thought of being described as either of the above, in truth many of us with a bicycle obsession could comfortably wear an i'm a geek' t-shirt, based pretty much on the evidence of random questions fired in the direction of cycling's great heroes. while i have no wish to add my name to a list of name-droppers, several years ago, i was sitting next to sean kelly at the annual braveheart ride, and as becoming of one who is comfortable in such company (who am i kidding?), we had eschewed any pretence of discussing the finer points of competitive cycling, choosing instead to converse about garden sheds (you really had to be there).
as our conversation progressed, i was aware of a gentleman standing in close proximity to sean and myself, somewhat obviously waiting for a suitable break in shed discussions, to intersperse a question of his own. this consisted of a two parter; part one was to congratulate sean on winning the 1992 milan-sanremo (known as a phatic statement, designed more to open the lines of communication rather than provide any lasting nugget of wisdom), and part two was to ask the great sprinter which gear he was in when thundering for the line.
sean kelly has doubtless been asked so many variations of this question that i'd have been unsurprised if he had opted to continue our shed narrative rather than answer, but in point of fact, he smiled and said "the right one". harking back to my previous advice with regard to such interventions, unless you have something that desperately needs saying or asking of the more famous amongst us, it is better to keep shtum. however, there's always the outside likelihood that the anonymous gentleman was genuinely interested in which particular rear sprocket mr kelly had chosen to pair with his outer ring back in 1992. i would be suprised if sean had actually been able to remember, but then quite a few professional cyclists and former instances of the profession have been known to demonstrate geekish qualities of their own.
interest in the minutiae of pretty much anything, confers the status of geekhood on the hapless incumbent, particularly by those who have little or no interest of their own in whichever subject is under discussion. however, the epithet is more readily associated with folks coralled in individual booths as part of a large 'open' plan office. adopting a variation on the renowned studio tan, this section of the geek race spend the bulk of their working lives and beyond, staring blithely at computer screens and literally endless lines of code. such individuals gave rise to jolt cola, a recreational drink over-run with caffeine to help the imbiber stay awake when all else around were indulging in activities of greater recreational interest.
author bruce perry knows of which he speaks, occupying his waking hours as both software engineer and journalist, a man with concern over the lengthy periods of inactivity many of his kith and kin will spend during their working hours. bluntly put, sitting isn't good for us (though sitting on a bicycle doesn't quite come under this heading), and by the time many discover this iniquity, it may already be too late. though british health and safety regulations dictate that employers allow those working with visual display units a five or ten minute break in every hour, it is discretionary on the part of the employee, meaning most of us tend to ignore the diktat in favour (?) of getting the work done.
mr perry would prefer that we didn't, and has compiled a substantial amount of advice and information that, if followed, couldn't possibly harm the health and fitness of those on the receiving end. though rather tautologically, a book that can be read end to end, the composition of each chapter makes for an easy pick and choose, depending on your perceived need. the physiology of the average human is explored in depth, along with nutritional requirements, level of exercise, means of exercise and the efficacy of certain foods and their constituents.
gearing all towards what he perceives to be his target audience, there is much discussion of apps and software that can help account for distance walked, cycled, and run, contrasting with an nth degree dissertation on vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates that would prepare many a degree student. though there may be only a fraction of us who spend the majority of our waking hours with glazed eyes in front of a computer screen (like writing this stuff everyday), geekness extends to the cycling obsessive, meaning there are more than just a few chapters in 'fitness for geeks' that will help improve the fitness and health of those who wonder whether they ought to fit a 23 sprocket or a 25.
many a professional fitness manual aimed directly at the cyclist is written in a language and style that the author feels will impart a suitable degree of gravitas to the proceedings. perish the thought that we might consider the contents to be optional. bruce perry is of the polo shirt, jeans and trainers school of thought, offering a thoroughly relaxed and conversational tone even when discussing particularly complex subjects. "Given the number of studies they've conducted on coffee and caffeine, 'the most popular drug in the world', it seems like researchers have had plenty of opportunities to find something really bad about it, and so far they haven't. as long as they don't, i'm going to continue to enjoy my morning dark roast."
if you've taken the step of acknowledging that the daily travail is doing more harm than good, keeping you from that professional cycling contract or even just dragging down the minute gains made by regular or occasional weekends of cycling, this may well be the book for you. if, like me, training is simply a word used to disguise a fast pedal to debbie's for some frothy coffee, one who is less impressed by the serious style of many a discourse on the subject, this is definitely the book to acquire. it may be just a tad too complex in places, but sometimes it's better to need and not have, and it's often a simple matter of skipping the bits that are just a smidgeon too hard to comprehend.
a serious message wrapped in an easy to approach read.
wednesday 12th june 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................