Robot’s Useless Reviews – Shape

We ground our way up the short, sharp climb to the natural resting spot before diving back into the woods. C said, “Wooh, I’m not in the best shape,” and I nodded. Yes. The best shape. Both of us hunched over our bars, sucking wind, like a pair of asthmatic apostrophes or dangling participles.

And then I thought, “What shape is this, this not the best one?” Is it a rhombus? That’s fun to say, even if ineffective on a bicycle. Is it a trapezoid? Reminds me of a predatory dinosaur. Maybe it’s a dodecahedron, or some ever evolving fractaloid shape. Amoebic. Helical. Tessellated. Orotund.

In reality, I’m not sure the shape I make is related to how I’m doing with the whole pedaling thing. I have been out-pedalled by people of many shapes. All creatures great and small really. Shapeshifters. People who refused to ride within the confines of their shape, whose lungs swelled, flooding their muscles with oxygen, dropping me like a crumpled tissue or empty energy bar wrapper, a thing with almost no shape at all.

Check out this video from Spain’s Basajaun gravel race via our friends at Shimano. Spain is beautiful and this race looks HARD.

Climbing is sometimes called “dancing in the pedals.” Dancing is sometimes called “throwing shapes.” Someone in my current condition is said to “pedal squares.” I might fix that problem with ovalized chainrings. Ovaltine is a malt, sugar and whey beverage invented by a Swiss guy in 1904. Switzerland is land-locked, which is why they get up to so many shenanigans like that.

That’s all just information and likely relevant, so keep it in mind.

The bicycle is typically two triangles, a larger and a smaller, and two circles, usually the same size. It feels like that basic information should lend some clues as to the shape I should try to assume while joined together with the bicycle, but I find it does not. On the bike, I am something like a coat hanger or an inverted yield sign.

The human form, in its multiplicity, does not have an assigned shape, but is rather an amalgam of random symmetries. A sketch artist can assemble it from a pile of oblongs, but it doesn’t have a proper name. “Human-shaped” isn’t really a thing.

On the bike it’s really the shape of air we take in that makes all the difference, the shape that air has taken over the preceding days and months, metamorphosed via protein chains into tissues that perform work. Two air bags in our chests knit themselves with capillaries. Mucus slows the flow. Altitude. We parse oxygen and nitrogen, shapeless gasses.

Physicists have actually given up on solid matter altogether. Nothing is properly discreet. We are not even objects anymore but temporary cohesions of energy, overlapping, correlational fields. “I am not the best overlapping, correlation field at the moment,” I should have replied, hunched there on the hill. “Obviously not enough Ovaltine to get me throwing oblongs into the pedals properly.”

As the subject of a review, you can see, shape is an elusive target. I could recommend you assume the shape you think will work best, but I’m not convinced you have a lot of control over that. Rather, I’d suggest you spend your time at the top of short, sharp climbs, any climb really, breathing as best you can, and save the chit-chat for afterwards, over a cup of coffee and a pastry.

Do you know bike riders who like to read stuff about riding bikes and bike riding stuff. Why not share this with them? They’ll like it, and we’ll like them, and you’ll be the hero.

Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    Round, perfectly round, with no substance, surrounded by a perfectly circular, concentric ring of fried dough, itself coated in a perfectly smooth crust of once-liquefied sugar.

    Any questions?

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Where do I order?

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More