Friday, April 03, 2015

The Most Insane Thing

I enjoy watching the spectacle of sport.  Many sports eventually have detrimental effects on the participants but people still participate whether this is due to monetary factors, or simply love of the game.

I don't understand tri-athletes who do the extra long races such as the Ironman.  There is no way your body will benefit by going until you can't control your innards anymore.  Several years ago I participated in a one day race in France in the Pyrenees.  It was 125 miles, and it was over several mountains, ones that are typically used in the Tour de France.  It was in the 90's that day, which made it hotter than you can imagine.  When there is no breeze, and you are climbing a mountain with the sun beating down you are actually getting cooked from three directions since there really isn't much shade in the upper portions of the mountains.  So you are already exerting yourself, then getting cooked from the sun's direct rays from above, reflected heat from the road, and reflected heat from the rock side of the mountain.  It is the closest thing you can get to being in a microwave.  This 125 mile race was the hardest thing I have ever done.  When I finally got myself to the finish line, I was severely dehydrated.  Sure, water was plentiful, but at a certain point, my body couldn't get the water out to where my body needed it.  As I pedaled my sorry ass back to the cabin I knew I was in difficulty but didn't know how bad until I took a leak and my urine was the consistency and color of butterscotch.

Some wanted to celebrate afterward, but I knew my best course was to SIT DOWN, cool down, and drink water and get my poop in group.  It wasn't like I didn't train for this race - in fact, I was in tip top condition.  And the Tour de France guys do this for THIRTY STRAIGHT DAYS with a rest day or two thrown in between.  It is insane.  But endurance sports is not the most insane thing.

Fighting is pretty crazy.  Back before my back blew up I was pretty active in the mixed martial arts scene.  These guys train and train and train and then go into the cage and beat each other's brains in.  Boxers, kickboxers and MMA guys are all crazy.  Over time, if you get hit in the head enough, you will eventually succumb to big problems.  Look at Muhammad Ali.  And we have even had deaths in the ring.  I am sure that eventually there will be many more MMA deaths in the ring.  But fighting is not the most insane thing.

These guys who jump off of tall things and "fly" down in wing suits are nuts.  An accident happens once in a while and it isn't pretty.  But jumping off of tall things is not the most insane thing.

Football is crazy.  Most players have health issues later in life.  But football is not the most insane thing.

I am sure that you are wanting to know what the most insane thing is in sports by now.  It is likely something you have never heard of, but an event that I watch every year.  It is the Isle of Man time trial.

I remember watching this spectacle for the first time and just sitting there glued to the TV. 

The Isle of Man is situated between England and Ireland.  It is most famous for being a tax haven and offshore banking is it's largest industry.  But for a couple of weeks a year they close the entire island off for all traffic and have a gigantic motorcycle time trial.  And I am not talking about your chump Yamaha 500 - these are formula one motorcycles going out full throttle around the island.  At times they top 200 mph.  Take a look:

That is a pretty glamorous video.  As you can imagine, guys are getting killed doing this.  One tiny lapse in concentration is fatal.  Literally.  If you can handle watching a guy die, upcoming is a link to a video of a guy hitting a building at around 160 mph.  I think the weird part for me is the resignation of the people after it happens.  There is no rush to run over and help like you may see in a stock car or Formula One race.  They just shuffle over there, get the body and bike out of the way and go about their business.  I guess they know that the guy is dead so why get into some sort of hurry and the fans don't seem to care that much.  I will link this video here rather than embed it to give you the option of  seeing it or not.

If you want to see what it looks like for a full lap in the cockpit of one of these cycles, check this out - turn it up and put it on HD and get ready to fly:

The Isle of Man time trial is the most insane thing.


Mark said...

Wow - that's crazy.

All this time I had assumed ferret-legging was the most insane sport...

Carl from Chicago said...

That last video is completely nuts. They must memorize every nook and cranny of that course before the event can't believe how low they get on the bike around the turns and then how fast they go on the straight aways.

Dan from Madison said...

I can't believe more spectators don't get killed. I assume they just say DON'T CROSS THE STREET while racing is going on.

Overload in Colorado said...

Riders have had scuffed helmets from getting to close to a wall. It's the light to dark transitions that would freak me out.
The bikes usually get airborne twice a lap, at Ago's Leap and at Bray Hill, which is also a left to right transition, so bikes often get out of shape when they land.

Two other IOM notes:
1) they have a sidecar race there during bike week. Even more insane to be a monkey on an F1 sidecar rig.

2) they let a car go around every so often, but few race cars are setup for the rough streets of the island. It's usually a Rally Car, which is limited by it's top speed, so the bikes still have the course record. Michael Higgins has the car record. There's a video of his lap, where at one point he gets into a 'tank slapper'. In a car.

Overload in Colorado said...

Mark Higgins, not Michael.

Gerry from Valpo said...

When it comes to two wheelers - if you wear a full helmet/face shield high speed feels negligible compared to being without. Full helmets make a rider feel falsely impervious to high speed.

Then again the best I ever did was bury the needle on my Sportster on a lonely four laner near home. My guess was 125-130. The mirrors folded at about 90 mph.

Never rode a rice burning crotch rocket like those. To me that is a death wish and nothing less.