Super Bowls and Cycling.
As a few of you may know, I live in Seattle. As such it is requisite that I be a Seahawks fan. Don’t believe me? Well I work part time for an 80 year old woman, who has never had any interest in sports of any kind. This year however, she is having a Super Bowl party at her house. She refers to Russell Wilson as a ‘nice young man.’ Sure she does not understand the game, but she certainly has the spirit. As much as I enjoy football, I do think it would be amazing to see the community as unified about something more important.
I have been a football fan since I was young, but don’t worry I am not about to go on a diatribe about the virtues of the Seahawks over the Patriots. I am not about to discuss the controversy of limp balls and cheating. This is a cycling blog dammit! However, I do have to say that the happenings in the football world can have an impact on cycling.
Here are some examples of NFL cyclists.
Say what you will about Ray Lewis, but the man is a freak. He played 17 NFL seasons at an incredibly high level as a linebacker. This is a brutal, punishing position. Late in his career, he discovered the benefits of cycling as a way to get into shape without all the punishment of running or other workouts. Since his retirement, his love of cycling continues he now has his own cycling related business RL52cycling.com RL52Cycling sells workouts, trainers and apparel (though their apparel is not as sexy as CYCLEBUTTCRACK gear).
Dallas Clark played 11 seasons playing tight end in the NFL. The majority of his time was spent being one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets in Indianapolis. One year on RAGBRAIs, I saw a ‘Dallas Clark stop here!’ sign. Well a quick Google search later, and sure enough, I found a photo of Dallas Clark cycling in RAGBRAI.
This summer I wrote about the greatest cycling/football tradition ever in Green Bay. Kids show up for training camp early in the morning with their bikes and the Packer players ride the kid’s bikes from the stadium to the practice field. Read about it here.
The most recent example brings us back to the Seahawks. It is my favorite example of a cycling football star, Michael Bennett. At the end of an improbable comeback in a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Bennett celebrated by borrowing a police bicycle and riding it around the stadium. As a Seattle cyclist I took notice. Bennett said it was the best bike ride of his life. It turns out he has three bikes of his own. He considers himself a cyclist. He even went on another bike ride at the airport before their departure. The Seattle Bike Blog reports that the bike used for the famous ride will be auctioned off for charity. Half of the proceeds will go towards the Seattle Police Foundation. The other half will go to a charity Bennett works with called Ocean which fights childhood obesity. It is worth noting that I did attempt to reach out to Michael Bennett to interview him about his bikes, but Mr. Big Shot football star was too busy to respond. Ha!
You may be wondering how these examples have any effect on your daily routine as a cyclist. Unfortunately cyclists are not getting a lot of good press these days. Every time you turn around you hear another unfavorable news report talking about road hog cyclists. Apparently as a cyclist I am a spandex clad road Nazi who slows down traffic while ignoring traffic rules and riding too fast and reckless. Lewis, Bennett, the Packers and Clark give us cyclists a little bit of good press. If you really think about it, we cyclists and football players are not all that different. We both wear ridiculous lycra pants, funny shirts, padding and helmets. The only difference between our silly outfits is the location of the padding. Both sports involve performance enhancing drugs. We spend hours conditioning our bodies for our respective sport. We also are at risk for head and other various injuries as a result of the sport we love. Though a pro cyclists may be diminutive in stature, they can be as tough as any football player. Don’t believe me? Last year in the 2014 Tour de France, Swiss cyclist Reto Hollenstein crashed after a touch of wheels. He made it back to his bike and struggled to finish the stage losing nearly 30 minutes. Upon examination, it was determined that Reto completed the stage with a collapsed lung! Wow! I can’t even imagine.
Whether you like it or not, football and cycling have a connection. I believe that is a good thing. The next time a Seattle motorist sees me on the roadway, perhaps instead of thinking how much he hates cyclists, he will be reminded of beloved footballer Michael Bennett’s victory lap and give me some room. Also… Perhaps when all the Super Bowl hoopla dies down, Bennett will finally grant me my interview. I am not holding my breath.