By Sal Ruibal
It was nice of the organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games to schedule the men's and women's cross-country mountain bike races on Saturday, August 11 for the women and August 12 for the men. Those are the last two days of the Olympiad, which kind of sounds like a creepy, Depends-type undergarment: "Yowch, my Olympiad is leaking!"
Saturdays and Sundays are when most mountain bikers are not watching TV in the afternoon, unless "American Flyers" is on the Spanish channel. They call it "Americano Deportados." It was my experience during the ten Olympics that I attended that the most excitement left in the final days was the giddy prospect of getting out of town and on an airplane, fast.
Thanks for the big global spotlight, London and NBC.
The organizers have promised some radical, super-stoked technical sections this time. I hope so, because most of the previous Olympics XC races were balls to the walls fast, with the little knobbies on the tires the biggest elevation change on the course. The top contenders will have hardtail, carbon 29er bikes that weigh less than my razor.
You'll probably also see some big dual-suspension 29er rigs out there. That's what the also-rans will be using because their sponsors want to sell full-susser, big-wheel bikes. Win on Sunday, take out a $7,500 Quicken loan on Monday.
In a perfect Olympiad, we would see MTB downhill, enduro, a 24-hour race with no spoiler alerts, single-speed alley cat races and gold, silver and bronze ass tattoos inked right there on the podium with Ryan Seacrest holding the needle.
But since the ancient Greeks did not anticipate that elite athletes would someday want to shred, we will see a total of about six-hours of mountain bike racing crammed into less than half of the daily screen time set aside for cute little girls dolled up like Las Vegas showgirls jumping around on an apparatus, a word that just screams 'ick.'
To extend the bike buzz, I suggest we introduce some new mountain bike Olympic events that could someday appear at an Olympiad:
The Walk of Shame: The athletes load up a $5,000 bike they just bought and place it on a bike rack on top of their SUV, then 'forget' that the bikes are on the roof when they smash into a parking garage entrance. Points awarded for "extreme nonchalance," "one-handed denial," "silent scream," and the ability to say, "I was going to get another bike anyway," in at least four European languages.
You Tubing: Points awarded for the most egregious behavior performed in a two-minute video. Traditionalists favor "The Belgian Crybaby" routine, but judges award more points for original moves, such as using live kittens as chamois pads. Extra bonus points for using badgers instead of cats.
Carbon Loading: Riders compete in replacing all bike parts with carbon fiber equivalents. Based on 1990's event called The Ti Dive. Bikes must be able to ride at least 100 meters before disintegration. Extra points for replacing femurs with carbon.
Ultra-Endurance: Riders that did not win a medal are allowed to race their bikes to Heathrow Airport for return flight to their country of origin, but then must face a 20-hour delay on the runway before flight takes off. Aircraft lavatories closed due to maintenance.
Bike Polo: We're still working on this. It's hard for the horses to ride the bikes.