The bike does something else in its truth telling. It doesn't just speak to us; it actually punishes us for shortcomings. The bike tells a truth about us the way a prison sentence or a tax bill does. You may not like it, but you have to deal with it because the truth told has the harsh sting of reality to it. You cannot dodge it.
Too fat, not trained enough, not smooth enough on the pedals - your legs and lungs will burn unnaturally. Stop paying attention on the fixed gear for a minute, it will slew you into the ground like you insulted its mother. I paid for that particular mistake with torn rib cartilage and an undefined shoulder injury that took months to heal. Fail to pay attention to a tiny stump, and you may fly headfirst into a tree at 25 MPH, and have clear fluid running out of your ears and nose for the next hour, and a killer headache. Hit the traffic circle at 30 MPH as the rain starts, slip on the oil, and you will have to lay in the shrubs just off the circle for 3 minutes until you can breathe again without involuntarily sobbing. Try to ride courteous in a crit and let him pass in a place you know he shouldn't, slide in a couple inches to him into the line, and the guy next to you make take you and eight other people out for your lapse in judgment, and when you come to your fingertip will have been ground up, your sunglasses broken, and you will have a number of perforations in your body. Fail to get your ass back far enough behind the seat on a steep descent, and the bike will taco the front wheel, and drive you into the ground head first like a tack, leaving you shaking and in shock. Lose concentration on a rocky descent, and you'll hit a tree hard, leaving your hand swollen for a week, and you afraid of rocks and descents for a month.
All these are true stories. They are stories about how the bike told me about my deficiencies, how it told the truth. Occasionally, the bike bites its tongue. It doesn't tell us that we should eat shit for how we misjudged that line of rocks, it holds its tongue and lets us slip through. It doesn't always chastise us for failing to notice gravel in the turn; instead maybe it is quiet while we slide a little, and pass through the turn with just a scare. Other times, we get away with crossing railroad tracks at an angle, hitting a log just wrong, or forgetting to pedal our fixed gear. In these instances, the bike gives us a freebie... but it does not lie. The bump, the skid, the brush of a shoulder on the tree - these are whispered truths. But they are truths nonetheless.
Mostly though, the bike just tells simple truths. Screw up, and it will drive you into the ground like a nail. That's its most basic, straightforward way of pointing out that you made a big mistake. Cause & effect. Tit for tat.
One of you guys used comments to call me an insensitive prick or somesuch for pointing out that Wouter Weylandt's crash was self-inflicted.
Sure, I'm an insensitive prick.
Doesn't mean that I was lying though.
TOT 42: We Pass By Like Shadows