I know people who raced against John Tomac, “back in the day,” by which I mean people who wore race numbers while watching Tomac win a race to which they were only invited out of courtesy and to make the course look less empty. These units of human furniture attest to the incontestable fact that Tomac was unbeatable, not only through the superiority of his engine, but also for the effortless balance and flow with which he conveyed himself through even the gnarliest of the gnarly gnarls.
This is less a review of John Tomac’s Inner Ear and more a meditation on the reality-altering alternate uses it could be put to.
Elon Musk and Richard Branson have hurled billions of dollars at
enormous penile representations of their fragile egos commercial space flight, with one of the crux problems being stabilization of the returning space craft for landing. Simply encapsulating John Tomac’s inner ear in a floating glass prism, and wiring it to the servo-motors adjusting flaps, landing gear and ancillary engines would solve this problem in a trice.
Any Eastern European gymnastics squad bent on world domination and funded by the spoils of a shadowy oligarch (see a theme here?) might reasonable clone John Tomac’s inner ear and implant it in the heads of whatever slave-driven, pre-teens they’ve identified as being the next great hope for national glory. As far as I know the doping protocols do not screen for Tomac’s Inner EarTM.
I watched my father of die of Parkinson’s Disease (What sort of monster mines an experience like that for comic fodder? This kind. If you’re not laughing you’re crying. Pipe down and keep reading). While Tomac’s Inner Ear would not curb the dementia which eventually stole him from us, it would have curtailed the number of times he ate it on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, bruising arms, face, and what was left of his crumbling ego. There is dignity in balance. Believe it.
If we were to develop an emotional Tomac’s Inner Ear, then we could package it in capsule form and feed it to our elected politicians in the same manner foie gras geese receiver their daily rations, thus cooling the national temperature and sweeping the daily, vitriolic tantrums of our representatives from the pages of the newspapers, both real and virtual. We might then have reasonable discussions about constructive ways forward, rather than watching mostly old, rich, white men, flail each other with their bloated egos. #amirite?
Whether related to his inner ear or not, it’s worth noting just how in control of his own ego Tomac was and is, as if the physical structure was exerting a psycho-spiritual influence on his equanimous mien.
What if you could apply Tomac’s Inner Ear to your work/life balance. Holy schnikees! Imagine the peace and contentment that might enter your addled pate. Whole families might settle and calm, learning to enjoy each other’s company. Relationships might be saved. The depression and suicide rates might drop. The dog might finally receive the ample attention s/he deserves. The cat, however, would likely remain dissatisfied. There are limits.
And then, finally, just imagine yourself in the yoga class you’ve signed up for in a desperate attempt to bring even an hour of calm into your day, except that you keep falling over and embarrassing yourself in front of Karen and her tight-clad cohort. Tomac’s Inner Ear would make your Tree Pose into a real redwood of shimmering serenity. You would still deal with the issue of flatulence during Shavasana (corpse pose) at the end, but all you have to do is whisper “Ewww, Karen! Gross!” under your breath, and you get a classic win-win of yogic proportions.
There is no question that Tomac’s Inner Ear is an under-utilized resource. As the ne plus ultra of cycling and competitive souplesse it has so much still to give to the world. The clear answer is to pin the man down and remove his head from his body, the better to serve the needs of humanity. If this course of action strikes you as unhinged, clearly you never saw the man in action, never witnessed the effortless float of his wheels through technical terrain, never appreciate the power and glide of his riding. If you did, and even more so if you “competed” against him, then you’d see power the man has kept unto himself all these years, and the green flame of jealousy, cloaked in altruism, would spark in your chest, as it has so many others.
Afterword: John, if you’re out there, reading this. I’m sorry. Fame and fortune have unpredictable consequences. Though we’ve never met, I know you’re keenly aware.