By Jason Harrod:
Everyone has nicknames. I myself have many: Hard Way, Hayride, Hayrider, Rider, J-dog, Jose, Bud, Opie, Hog Boy. But the one of my many nicknames that really stands out is Slime. The reason? I don’t know about you but I am one sweaty fool. I sweat like mad. Those infomercials where the greasy guy in the Dr.’s smock is standing in what looks to be his grandmother’s kitchen and asks, “Do you perspire a lot? Do you have wet marks on your clothes even when the temperature is moderate? Do people tend to avoid you at all costs?” Those horrible sales pitches were made for people like me.
I was a wrestler in high school and in college and the referees would often stop my matches and make me towel off because ‘I had an unfair advantage’ because I was slippery, slimy. Talk about unfair. Singling me out like that in front of some comely woman I was courting who had come to watch me perform in my tights was not an advantage, let me tell you, and was certainly unfair … but only to me. As time wore on and I aged I have come to grips with the fact that I, well, drip … and drip … and drip. I think you get the point.
So there I was on my Sunday group ride with the Marin Velo Club. We were moving along nicely, pacelining our way out west when it was my turn to pull. There are people who dread being on the front of a group. Not me. I like to pull. I truly enjoy my turns on the front. In fact, if one were to critique my time at the front one might actually say I sometimes take too long a pull, that and perhaps the smell, but I am on different bent now. Back to the ride. We were churning down the road at a fine clip and I was smiling and loving my time at the front, the sun warming my face nicely. Then I heard it. No, it wasn’t the crackle of carbon fiber tearing, it wasn’t the gunshot sound of a blow out, it actually went a little like this: “My god. Did it just start raining?” Which was quickly followed by, “Naaaa, that’s just Harrod sweating up there. First time, hunh?” Now I know I sweat and have my whole life but I did not think that there was some sort of pace line virginity/sweaty ass phenomena or stigma that goes along with riding behind me. That was a first. Am I hurt? Hell no. Am I sad? Nope. Does it bother me at all? Indeed … not. What has changed for me is the mental vision I have of me riding. I used to envision this sleek, smooth and efficient handsome ole devil spinning perfect circles and smiling wide and bright into the face of the sun. Now, not so much. Now I see a slick and slimy fool taking too long a pull at the front and casting off a foul odor and giant wake of perspiration that coats the people in the peloton behind me, like something akin to the Exxon Valdez oil spill or that mess in the Gulf.
So lately I have become a little more self conscious about my overzealous sweat glands. I take care to try to wipe away any and all stray drops from my brow even in the fastest of groups. I bathe before almost every ride. I am a gentle lover … on the bike … and try to be thoughtful of those around me. Is there something good to glean from this? That’s a great question. All I can come up with is I hope the folks who ride with me enjoy and appreciate a good spritz of that fine, sweat nectar from this dog on a hot, or not so hot, day.