Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My mountain biking friends had their first race of the year on Saturday. It was a time trial. As you already know, I'm not a mountain biker. Heck, I didn't even know that there were mountain bike time trials. But just because I don't own a mountain bike doesn't mean that I had to miss out on time trialing fun. So Saturday afternoon, I paid a visit to the airport service road for a TT workout on the p2SL.

While boiling up some fresh lactic acid, my mind began to drift. I thought the shadows that the late afternoon sun threw on the tarmac were funny.

Airport time trial run. My legs look like they're about 45 feet long.

The silhouette projected on the road reminded me of my life long best friend, Steve Missey.

Back when we were in kindergartners, I followed him home after school one day. I thought he was cool. His mom greeted him/us at his front door and asked, "who's your new friend, Steve." He turned and looked surprised to see me standing there. He had no idea who I was. We've been best friends ever since.

Anyway, I learned a lot from hanging out with Steve. Like how to think abstractly. His gift manifested itself early in his art work. Steve's specialty was the family portrait. While the rest of us were instructed to draw stick figures with proportional arms, legs and torso, Steve's point of view gave a heavy emphasis to the legs. He was brilliant. Bucking convention, Steve boldly drew it as he saw it. Like the shadow projected above, young Steve drew his parents legs as if they were four stories tall.

Here's an mspaint.exe replica of Steve's family portrait:

the Missey Family Portrait

Those gangling legs crystallized new pathways of intellect for me, forever changing the way I perceived the world. Thanks, Steve.

So it should come as no surprise that I thought of Steve -- again -- when I was riding with Mark Savery (Mod) and Bryan Redemske on Sunday.

Bryan (top) and Mark training in the new MWCC kits

When Bryan wasn't drilling it up the 12-16% grades, the topic of conversation was on Tom Boonen not winning the Tour de Flanders earlier that day. At some point, Mod said that Boonen had a freakishly long torso compared to his legs. He went on: at 6'4 and 180 pounds, Tornado Tom rides a relatively small bike (58 cm) with a 140mm stem. Boonen's build sounds more like swimmer Michael Phelps than that of a world champion cyclist.

Tom Bonnen's torso wins the world championship

My mind spooled as I attempted to grasp what Mod was saying. I realized that he was describing the inverse of the Missey family portrait. Could there be such a thing?

I then wondered how a young Tom Boonen would have drawn himself riding a bicycle. Imagine the torso:

a rendering of Tom Bonnen's first self-portrait

Apparently, there's been lots of discussion in cycling forums about Tom Boonen towering size and his disproportionate torso. In one, writer Talewinds dared to publicly ponder what it'd be like to build a bike to Bonnen's specs:

The other day and I realized [Bonnen] and I are the same height/ weight. I currently have (2) 60cm bikes, a 62cm bike (too long top tube) and I'm building a 58.5 cm bike. The only measurement I'm really worried about is the seat-to-bar drop, because on this used frame/fork, there's gonna be quite a bit of drop.

I have no idea but I can say that fitting a frame to you based on what fits someone else makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

you should try to be like mcewen, he's only won three stages at the tour this year

Talewinds :
I'm not some naive noob here FMW, and I'm not trying to fit myself to a bike based on how someone else fits to theirs. It's a GENERAL interest in bike fitting

Aw Geez, Talewinds, don't listen to those bullies. Who's to say that your build is not unlike Boonen's? Where some may dream, you may be justified in replicating Boonen's bike. Perhaps it's the only thing keeping you from reaching your full potential. Do you wish you could drop freds on your next group ride? Are you always a pack finisher just off the podium? Perhaps you're only a few percentage points of efficiency away from being the next State champ in your category. You may never know unless you go for it.

You see Talewinds, I can sympathize with you because I also have a disproportionate torso-to-leg ratio. At 5'9 with an inseam of 33 inches, I am an 80% version of Tom Bonnen. Where most at my height ride a 54-56 cm bike, I have a 51 cm with a 120mm stem. The stem stretches me out so far that I feel like superman when I ride it. I'm no Tom Boonen, but it works for me.

Still, since seeing Steve's family portrait, I've had a void in me that my stubby little legs could never fill. I've secretly wished that my proportions were flipped.

A boy can always dream...


  1. But Brady, unlike Talewinds... you might be flexible enough to handle the saddle to bar drop. I'd wager that a lot of posters on (especially ones with a post like that) cannot.

    Besides, getting fitment advice on the internet is about as intelligent as arguing on a forum.

  2. geez, no wonder I outweigh my girle-esque brother by about 50#. I'm 5'11+" (really I say 6' if I crane my neck) with 32 inseam. I basically have a layer of almost 4 inch thick t-bone/porterhouse* layer all round on my torso that he doesn't have.

    My wife Connie is Brady/Boonen-esque. She is 5'7+" with 32" inseam, and slender as a reed. Looking at fitting her for a bike and it's not easy.

    While he may be getting bike fitting advice from the web, at least Brady isn't getting punctuation advice from the internet...

    Unlike me, he done-learnt his grammercy from Doc J. Raterman, with whom both Steve Missey and Irving Washington work with. Irregardless, I did just end that sentence with a preposition.

    I yearn for you tragically,
    Chaplian Tappman

    *or maybe it's a 4" layer of brisket...?

  3. I want to set up an informal, bi-weekly TT series on that road....

  4. Damn, I look good in that new kit.

    Yeah, too bad about whatever else you were talking about.

  5. Wow, a blog post (partly) dedicated to my childhood art. I'm flattered. But what can I say? My dad is 5'6'' with a 48" inseam, and my mom is 5'4" with a 44". I was just drawing what I saw, man. I'd also like to quibble with your rendering of the arms; I never drew sticks, but rather little rounded-edge paddle-looking things projecting from the torso—kind of like extended nubs.

    Murphini (a.k.a Brady's older brother who scared the crap out of me and whom all the girls in my class swooned over), we're reading Catch-22 right now in junior English. Here's a great passage from Dunbar at the end of chapter 4, which the juniors were assigned Thursday night:

    "You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age? A half minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you ever hoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summer vacation that lasted a thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. How the hell else are you ever going to slow time down?"

  6. @SteveMissey...

    I'm sure you are thinking of Matt scaring the crap out of you. He used to have the spit-drool over Brady. To mix it up more....
    While Brady was Ponyboy
    I was actually SodaPop
    and MATT was mean ole Darryl

    I was Maj___DeCoverley*
    Brady was Nately
    and Matt was Appleby/Lieutenant Scheisskopf

    *I've sort of turned into Milo

    Um...who where the girls swooning--?

  7. Brady, I am living your dream. I'm the exact inverse proportions. 5'10", I ride a 56cm frame with a 90mm stem and about 11 inches of drop from saddle to drops. I'm all femur over here

  8. Yes Sean, but your long locks of hair somehow balance it all out.