Freedom through television, and other digressions

It is the first hot night of summer and TDM is so excited, but not even a little bit about riding his bike. The reasons for not being excited are the problems of an infant terrible; namely that he is simply a little bit bored with the bike thing right now, having recently enjoyed the charms of the McKenzie with several good friends, not to mention the best winter for riding on record…rehab for this type of shallow hardship will doubtless be a shortlived diversion toward other activates and interests…no fodder for further comment there, but the thing that does have him all pumped up is the fact that by the time he wakes up tomorrow morning there should be a two hour replay of the Fort William world cup downhill; number two in the 2015 series, and one of the best courses on the planet. Just this morning TDM and his good friend T$ were trading texts on our predictions and excitement and generally psyching up for another weekend of downhill drama. The fact that this drama is available to the likes of us, all in our 40’s with no time for dashing off to Europe to view the race, is even more amazing.

So many times over so many eras has TDM wished that just once he could pick a sport of interest that had some sort of mainstream media outlet or appeal. His mediocre interest in baseball occasionally allows some daily contact with the sporting life, and European citizenship would have allowed him to honor soccer with the masses, but seeing BMX for a single chips episode, or watching a five minute summary of the whitewater slalom world championships on the wild world of sports does little to scratch the itch of my interest in competition. Over the years TDM has been jealous of the main body of sports addicts in this country, whose radio pornography TDM sometimes dabbles when he drives here or there. In these moments there can be found some basic human interest among universal tales of striving, hardship, doubts, and the dreams that we live through our sporting heroes, even in their defeat. TDM has always imagined the benefits of being a fan of gridiron football, with multiple games per week available for casual perusal or habitual consumption, followed by limitless analysis from a myriad of diviners, visionaries and quacks, be them on TV, the radio, or simply haunting the water cooler. For years TDM dreamed modestly of even a single coworker with whom he could momentarily comment at the start of a meeting…”hey, did you catch that sick crossbow that Lugbill through down on gate 23 in Augsburg this weekend?”…but alas the talk is always of other reindeer games…that is until recently.

In the old days being an enthusiast of exotic sport left one waiting for months or more to hear the outcome of even the most classic of events. When young TDM made the main moto at a national BMX race he had to wait two months for the issue of BMX-plus that eventually printed his name under 3rd place in 11 experts. These setbacks were hardly questioned, but they cut the head from any hope of really following the tour as a whole, and left the enthused…not. The first media breakthrough in TDM’s life was professional surfing, which has its flaws, but for an enthusiast such as myself is still a passion available in real time via online link. These webcasts have allowed TDM access to sporting events in-line with his real interests, and immediately his world was a better place. Gone were the days of waiting for news of events a month or two after the fact, and suddenly TDM could follow the personalities, tendencies and quirks of the myriad of pro surfers, and with that came a huge enrichment in the way I related to surfing as an armchair interest (Before this I was interested only in going surfing, now I was interested in surfing itself). I read about the history, the inventions, the personalities that made my favorite activity what is, and all of this investigation stemmed from watching sport in real-time. I also learned and grew as a surfing being, and suddenly lines I recognized from the perfection of Bobby Martinez’s backside hacks began to turn up in my own approach to water and waves, and my life was better for it.

Two years ago I started following world cup downhill, having never ridden a downhill bike (or even a dual suspension bike) in my life, and though I can’t discuss it with my co-workers, suddenly I can relate to the activity in a way that was not available before. In this modern era I happily waste moments texting with friends about the upcoming race, predicting, divining, and analyzing the rediculum of DH racing in a way not dissimilar to armchair quarterbacks across the globe. More than that, there are moments now where for a few feet of trail at a time I sometimes sense some resemblance in my riding to Gwinn’s strait lines, or Ratboys charging arcs, and in these occasions I find hope of freeing myself from that limited 40-something learning curve, and progressing in a way that might otherwise be unavailable; freedom found thorough television…who would have guessed?

Judge me for my sedentary hours if you must, but my thoughts on the subject are clear: it is DH xmas eve, and in the morning I’ll be sitting in a comfy chair and watching the best in the world teach us all a thing or two about rolling down a hill. Longue vie à la télévision modern!

Post-script bonus Material: This post was actually published a full month after the fact….distractible TDM is. Fort William was good, but the following race at Leogang Austria was a classic, with the last three riders down the hill each rising the bar in spectacular fashion. In the end it was Aaron Gwinn who snapped his chain in the first 20 feet, then smoothly dissected this pedally course by storming the technical portions to take the win over a deserving Conner Fearon (who was vying for his first WC win). Watching the last three racers charge this course with perfect runs, I was yelling at the computer, and for a moment I could have been any middle-aged idiot in America, yelling for his favorite team. Even better than that? Afterwards I went for a big ride, throwing the trademark TDM butt-whips as opportunities allowed, and feeling the presence of Bobby Martinez and Remi Therion in my bones. Now the cycle (ha ha ha) repeats, as there is another race this weekend, and my excitement is back up to maximum velocity. Go Loic!

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