Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Latest Performance Enhancer: The Electric Bike

Lost in the titanic hubbub of the departed Giro d’Italia — can the unsung David Arroyo keep the leader’s pink jersey? (no), can the formerly sung Ivan Basso complete his comeback? (yes), can the riders fail to be buried by an avalanche of snow in the highest Alps? (again, thankfully, yes) — was, for technology nuts, the story of the year, maybe the new decade. “Technology nuts” is shorthand for the people who really do care what gears the riders are using in the mountains — a 53/34 crank with an 11-26, yielding a gear ratio of 34x26, 34x29 or 36x29 — and by how many millimeters their saddles have been raised. That sort of stuff. Most tifosi, the demented Italian fans who paint their faces in the green, white and red of the national flag, strip down to their shorts in frostbite conditions atop the Giro’s mountains and run alongside the riders to encourage, or goad, them on, couldn’t care less about gears and saddle heights. What they want is performance. How’s this for an aid to performance: L’Equipe, the French sports newspaper, reports that everybody is buzzing about the latest innovation in the sport, even more of a performance enhancer than EPO, CERA, human growth hormone, homologous and autologous blood transfusions or some other substance, widely used but not yet within the domain of drug inspectors. It’s the electric bicycle. Read on in The New York Times.