Monday, December 13, 2010

The Metric System

There are only 3.5 countries remaining in the world that use the English Imperial measurement system.

The United States
Liberia
Myanmar
The UK

I count the UK as 0.5 because they use both the metric and English system on a daily basis. One could argue that they deserve a full point for being facile with both measurement systems but since I'm making the rules here, they only get half a point. Actually, if these were real points, then all four countries would get -100 points simply because they refuse to cooperate with the rest of the world. For that matter, why is the English system also called the Standard system? How can something be a standard when only 4 out of 195 countries use it? And when two of the countries have a combined economy equal to that of Montana?

I would venture a guess that there are millions of dollars spent to make 1/2" bolts for the United States just because we won't use 1cm bolts. Brilliant.

Anyways, cycling in the rest of the world is expressed in the metric system. That is probably why I was greeted with rather blank stares when I told my friends that the 2011 Etape du Tour was going to be 109 kilometers long. Behind my friends' glassy eyes, I could see them trying to figure out what that meant. So before they herniated themselves trying to figure out what that distance was, I just told them.

67.7 miles.

Now 67.7 miles doesn't seem too bad. I ride that on a weekend morning when I spin up to Nyack for a muffin. It's the next number that kind of bothers me.

3,180 meters. Or 10,440 feet.

That's the amount of climbing there is in Acte I of the 2011 Etape du Tour. 10,000 feet of climbing. That's the equivalent of climbing the Empire State Building eight times. Or the Burj Dubai four times. Please excuse me while I go cry in a corner.

...

And I'm back. So welcome to my blog. Over the next few months, I'll be keeping a record of some of the cycling (and non-cycling) thoughts that I have as I prepare for the 2011 Etape du Tour. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Etape is probably the world's most famous "cyclosportive" or "sportive", where amateur cyclists get to test themselves on one of the toughest stages of the Tour de France. I will be riding in Acte I, which starts from Modane and ends on the summit of Alpe d'Huez. It's going to be an adventure. And you're welcome to share it with me.

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