Skinny Guy Convention

My wife was looking around the parking lot before the state time trial championship.

“This is really interesting”, she said.

She hadn’t been to a time trial before. The time trial is cycling’s version of an arms race: high zoot bike frames, carbon everything, disc wheels, pointy aero helmets. But she wasn’t talking about that.

“All these skinny guys in one place. You all kinda look the same.”

When you’re around it all the time, you don’t really notice. But looking around, even the biggest guys were in the skinny range when compared to the average super-sized American.

A week later, I was sitting in a restaurant in Louisville during Nationals. When you are eating out alone, you have to find something to occupy yourself while anticipating the food that you will soon worf down. (This particular restaurant, Primo, was excellent, BTW). So I was alternating between watching people walking down Market Street, and eavesdropping.

I saw a couple coming down the street. I knew, right away, this guy was in town for the ‘skinny guy convention’ (Nationals). He was dressed normally, but he had that bike racer look: lean. They came into the restaurant and took the table next to mine. I heard him talking on his cell phone to a teammate.

“Yeah, I rode the course today. It’s a lot of up and down. I’m going to use the 303’s instead of the 404’s. I figure it’s better to go lighter than aero.”

I was the only other person in the restaurant who had a clue what he was talking about.

The remainder of the week, it was pretty easy to spot the skinny guys. Guy sitting in the coffee shop with an omelet and espresso: bike racer. Guy at gas station buying microwave sausage muffin and $20 in lotto tickets: not a bike racer.


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9 responses to “Skinny Guy Convention

  1. Good stuff Batman – had me laughing several times.

    “Guy at gas station buying microwave sausage muffin and $20 in lotto tickets: not a bike racer.”
    Reminds me; definition of Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

    I’m beginning to think that not being overweight is somehow now considered to be abnormal. A woman here at work – not a cyclist, but exercises regularly and is fit (aka, thin) – seems to often get comments about how she looks “too skinny”. Personally, I think she looks good and would fit right in at a cycling event. Or running event.

    The flip side is that she gets a little irritated at the comments. I said, yeah, why shouldn’t you? People would not comment about how someone is “too fat”, so why should people feel that it’s OK to tell you that you look “too skinny”.

    Reasoning is that they probably feel that it’s a weird form of flattery. Like saying, “Hey man, you have way too much money.” or something like that.

    Maybe I should start mentioning to people that they look overweight.

  2. JimmyNick

    After I quit dipping Skoal and drinking, but before I gave up nicotine gum, I got my weight down as low as 161. That’s probably 10 pounds over a good body-mass index, and 15 pounds above a good racing weight.
    Now, bear in mind that at 161 lbs., I still had a paunch. In a pack of shirtless cyclists, I would have looked like a linebacker. (When I WAS a linebacker, back in high school, I weighed in around 148 and lied on the roster that I weighed 155 so I would be more intimidating to the nine teams that beat us — and even at 148 I had some puff at the middle.)
    At 161 pounds, my BMI was 24.5, and 25 is considered the threshold for overweight. Yet when I hit that weight, the priest at my church worriedly asked my wife if I had cancer. My mom harped on me with hurt in her voice each time I saw her, telling me I’d gotten way too skinny. Whispers about my health found their way back to me at work. Even my wife suggested I had gotten too thin.
    It was only to mollify all the concern that I started nibbling when I gave up the nicotine gum and let my weight gradually creep back up. Today, about 19 months later, I’m back to the middle of the “Overweight” range and again within shouting range of “Obesity.” I hope my loved ones are happy.
    And the thing is, compared to society as a whole, I still look svelte just about anywhere — EXCEPT at a bike race.
    Now we know why I can’t win a race with hills any bigger than a driveway apron.

    – JN

  3. Thinking of changing my blog name to Über die Hügel … probably more apropos.

  4. Brian

    I’ve also had the experience of seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while who thought I was sick. Truth is … I’d not LOST anything. They just got bigger.

    I think the ‘too skinny’ comments are in part a weird form of flattery, but also a subtle way of convincing oneself that it’s the other person who’s abnormal. ie, I’m not overweight, the other person is too skinny.

    As we all know … the real reason to ride so much is to be able to eat. So … go ahead and nibble. Just make sure you ride some more to make up for it 🙂

    If you REALLY want to see skinny … get a look at some of the Euro pros in person. Some of those dudes are scary (like “Chicken” Rasmussen).

    PS. Über die Hügel: I’m right there with ya.

  5. Brian

    another 2 things I wanted to mention, seemingly independent, but I don’t think so:

    Yesterday at a graduation party, I couldn’t help but notice that almost all of the teenagers present were what I would consider to be overweight. I’m thinking … what are they going to look like in 20 or 30 years? I felt bad for them.

    Then today, I happened to read an article that talked about how the diabetes rate in the United Arab Emirates has skyrocketed. With all the new oil wealth has come a more sedentary lifestyle along with high-sugar foods. So perhaps in the end the West will actually annihilate the Middle East … with sugar and oil money.

  6. I am 6 foot, 195 pounds, and some members of my family give me grief at family gatherings for being too skinny. Dumb. I have not yet, however, been accused of having cancer.

  7. Brian

    >> “accused of having cancer”

    that’s good … as if it’s something you would have done of your own volition.

  8. Brian


    After driving 7+ hours to Wisconsin for Superweek, I went out for a little spin. I stopped to look at a menu for an interesting looking restaurant. Two guys were going in, and stopped to tell me that I was too skinny and needed to stop there and eat. They said the restaurant was very good, so I will have to check it out. (they were gay, so I’m trusting they have good taste 🙂

  9. You should have told them that you were in town for the skinny guy convention.


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