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The word game

One of my primary duties at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness is to degrease and clean bicycles before they receive service, thus making it easier for our mechanics to do their job and also giving back spotless rides to our customers.

We work on all sorts of bikes at Mathieu's.

Since becoming a "pro" in this matter — and I can get away with saying that only because I get paid — I have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with hundreds of two-wheeled machines of all types and sizes. Mountain. Road. Cyclocross. Time trial. Fat. Gravel. Fitness. Kid cruisers. Folding. And in varying degrees of condition. Rusted. Muddy. Non-working. Covered in cobwebs. Well taken care of.

One of my quirks throughout the cleansing process — besides the more important part of searching for possible bike defects that I can point out to my shop colleagues — includes noting the words displayed on bikes. Maybe this is because of my background as a newspaperman. There are the usual markings that one would expect, like brand names, aluminum this and aluminum that, carbon whatever, frame and component numbers ... so on and so forth.

But there are other words and phrases that really get my attention; ones that, truth be told, leave me puzzled and full of questions: Who came up with these weird sayings? Do they actually help convince the consumer to purchase the bicycle? Does what's being said really work? Has anyone checked for their accuracy?

In today's world, maybe it's all fake news!

Anyway, here is some of what I'm seeing splashed across various parts on bikes, and I'm not making this stuff up:

* Silk Path 400

* Special Teeth Profiles Shifting

* Double Density Base Design

* Dialed Fit Specific Design

* Butted Enhanced

* Freestyle

* Response

* Anti-Flex Seat Stay

I'm guessing most people don't even pay attention to what's written on a bicycle. They just want it to work when they go for a ride. And that's all that really matters, isn't it?

Speaking of words

From my library of cycling books, here's another one worth checking out. It is "Bobke II" (VeloPress, 2003), written by Bob Roll, a former professional rider with teams such as 7-Eleven and Motorola. He rode in the Tour de France three times and in seven Paris-Roubaix races, and is now a well-known cycling commentator.

After reading the book, I had the opportunity to meet the author at an event in Austin, Texas. I told Roll that I enjoyed his storytelling, but mentioned that one particular narrative — titled Blind Faith was My Motto at the '86 Tour — really cracked me up. He quickly put his finger on his lips and said, "Shhh! That's not something we talk about in public." We both then started to laugh as we shook hands.

The book provides plenty of funny moments throughout its 194 pages and I still chuckle over many of the stories when rereading them. You won't be disappointed. It presents the not so serious side of pro cycling.

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