Gifts of Christmas Future

[Author’s note:  This article was written in 1995 or so, in the days before Garmins, GPS’s, and Computrainer Videos.  Read on and see how the techies at the North Pole were paying attention!] 

Now that I’ve unwrapped my last Christmas gift, eaten the last remnant of the pumpkin pie, and stored the unsent Christmas cards for yet another year, I have time to reflect on the outcome of the season. Not the racing season; the holiday season. I hauled in a lot of presents—Santa’s reward for my impeccable behavior (HO! HO! HO!) or possibly the benefit of having six siblings.

But I’m still feeling vaguely unfulfilled. I think the problem is that many of the things I need to make my life as a triathlete even more enjoyable haven’t been invented yet. Maybe I am overestimating the rate that technology is advancing, but these are some of the gifts that I would like to see under my tree by next year—unless I receive them for my birthday, which is September 1, if anyone needs to know.


Custom-Fit Bike Saddle

I picture this as an orthotic for the butt. With all the different sizes and shapes of derrieres, I think a custom-molded seat makes a lot of sense. Men wouldn’t have to angle their seat left or right anymore, and it would be built a bit off center depending on their preference (and size, of course). Women’s seats would have a totally new contour, which may surprise the current saddle manufactures, who must have missed their class in female anatomy. And I think we need a little work on the material being used as well. Perhaps some athletic shoe technology could be put to use here, like a “pump” seat, or better yet, an “Air Saddle.” I suppose when you have a blowout it could be a little embarrassing, but it would certainly scare off any drafters you have hanging on your wheel. Which brings me to my next wish…


Anti-Drafting Device

This would be a hookup on the back of your bike with a radar range of 10 meters. If it locks onto a rider for 15 seconds, it shoots a bright red paintball at them. We would have to work out some of the details, of course, but it would be good if a “hit” rider would be forced to stop and clean off his or her Oakleys for three minutes or so. I think this would also help our sport attract a wider viewing audience: it adds a certain je ne sais quoi that appeals to the typical sports fan. If we had the following little item, however, we may not need it.


Super Intelligent Bike Computer

This computer would calculate the distance to and from your nearest competitors. You would know if someone was sucking your wheel, just as you would know if you were unintentionally a tad too close to the person in front of you. They would know it too, so paintballs could be forthcoming. This would also give precious information that is often lacking during a race. The deluxe version would allow you to track particular competitors by keying in their number. No more wondering when the fast riders are going to overtake you; you could follow their progress minute by minute (and them greet them with a paintball just for fun).


Another computerized gadget for the bike that would helpful:


Virtual Reality Computrainer

This would allow you to train on courses from around the world without leaving your own home. You put on this helmet, choose whether you want to climb Alpe d’Huez or practice cornering on the criterium course in Cleveland, and off you go (virtually speaking, that is). Just think how much safer it would be to learn the descents at Nice this way. When you take a corner too fast go plummeting off a cliff, just hit reset and try it again with a nary an inch of road rash. Hopefully, you wouldn’t get mixed up the next time you are actually riding and get cavalier about cliff-diving.


Now that we’ve saved our skin from road rash, let’s move on to more skin related products.


Tan-Through Bike Shorts

I think the technology for tan-through apparel already exists, so what are we waiting for? Every triathlete anguishes over the cycling shorts tan line. We put in all these hours on the bike so we’ll look buff at our next race and we end up looking like geeks with farmers’ tans. And since the majority of the training time is on the bike, it’s nearly impossible to undo the damage while swimming and running, especially for those of us confined to an indoor pool most of the time. And while we’re on the tanning subject…


Tan-Saver Razor

I hate to spend all that time getting a nice tan only to have it practically removed every time I shave my legs. There has to be a way to remove the hair without taking off a skin layer or two with it. Now that I have mentioned losing a layer of skin, how about the following:


Magic De-Markers

These are just what they sound like—a writing device that removes or neutralizes, without loss of skin, the enormous numbers that are marked all over our limbs every race. There could be a place at the finish line for body-demarking just like there is a body-marking at the start. It only seems fair. And while we’re inventing this new marker/de-marker substance, you might as well make it tan-through as well. It’s January and I am still reminded that I was number 34 at Ironman every time I undress.


A problem I had this year at Ironman instigates me to lobby for the following invention:


Computerized Hydration and Energy Monitor

This system would monitor how hydrated you are, as well as your energy intake and outflow, to determine if you need to ingest more calories, more water, or both during racing and training. Maybe it would send an electric impulse through your stomach and could give you a readout of the concentration therein so you could be forewarned if something like Coke was building up like a restless volcano and prevent “eruptions” before they occur. Bonking and booting would be a thing of the past. Since we already have an electric impedance device that supposedly measures body fat, I don’t see why we can’t have one for measuring hydration. And we might as well have it print out your body fat as well to give you extra incentive on those long training rides. Now that I’ve brought up energy and long rides, it leads me to my next request.


Bicycle-Powered Generator

Sometimes when I am out riding for several hours, I think of the energy I am putting out that could be put to better use. If there was a little generator hooked up to my bike that would store the energy and then could be used to, say, heat my house or light my lamps, I could save some money and help the environment at the same time. This would also give your spouse a new appreciation of the time you spend riding and help struggling pros make ends meet. (Overtraining could become more of a problem for those in serous cash debt though.)


Well, maybe these requests will find their way to the North Pole in time for next year. Meanwhile, I will be spending the rest of the winter in hibernation with my leftover holiday cookies and Wicked Winter Brew.


And when spring rolls around, I will rely on a very useful invention that already exists: the Instant Training Motivator Dual System—my mirror and scale!

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