How air conditioning revolutionized competitive bicycling


I’m not really interested in sports. Teams, standings, scores, who got traded to what team, none of that is interesting to me. What I am interested in, however, is “meta-sports”: The business of sports, the technology of sports, the evolution of techniques, changes in the rules, that sort of thing. That’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of the radio program Only a Game. (The other, more important, reason can be summed up in two words: Charlie Pierce.)

All that is a rather lengthy lead-in to Transition Game, Nick Schulz’s look at the world behind sports. He covers what it is about sports that I like, with none of the stuff I don’t like. (I’ve linked to him before, but I like him so much I’m going to do it again.) You too can learn how air conditioning revolutionized competitive bicycling. Or you can learn about the use of robots as camel jockeys in Qatar. Here’s a picture. It’s like an episode of Futurama come to life.

Comments (7)
  1. tt says:

    Can anyone tell me why designing a robotic camel jockey would save camel racing?

  2. stb says:

    tt: the problem they were having was that they could no longer use children as jockeys. The reason children were used in the first place was because they don’t weigh much. This is, for example, why horse jockeys in the U.S. are usually very small people. The less for the animal to carry, the more energy they can put into moving quickly.

    So, the robotic jockeys help because if you can design one that weighed less than an 18 year old (the new minimum age for a jockey), your camel could move faster, carrying less weight, than the competition’s.

  3. James Schend says:

    Not only that, but the children they were using were paid for and bought from poorer neighboring countries– basically slave labor.

    Wired has a great article about the issue:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.11/camel.html

  4. DavidK says:

    Maybe someone can explain leg shaving to me then.

    I would swear it’s for tradition and not much else. I hear people mention tarmac rash, and easier massaging, etc… but honestly… it’s just for the looks isn’t it?

    (Just ordered a full Campagnolo Record groupset and eagerly awaiting delivery… maybe I should shave my legs in the meantime)

  5. George Bailey says:

    I always assumed the leg shaving was for aerodynamic reasons.

  6. MikeStew says:

    Road rash and massage are two valid reasons for the leg shaving. Try pulling medical tape off a hairy leg, or see what a mess massage oil makes on that unshaven limb. Aero benefits? Not really.

    But I hope not to crash very often, and as an amateur I’m not getting massages on a daily basis. So for the vast majority of racers out there, they (including myself, sheep that I am) shave because…everybody else does. I refer you to the article on air conditioning that Raymond posted, specifically "tradition".

  7. N1IK says:

    Leg shaving has to do with FEELING fast more than anything. I think you feel cooler, too.

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