Monday, September 13, 2010

I want to be aerodynamic

Driving my kids to school a couple of weeks ago:

Despite its reputation, Kansas is not perfectly flat. Particularly on the eastern edge of the state, we have a number of rolling hills and the drive from my house to my kids school (although only a few miles) is pretty hilly. Since it is also in the suburbs, it is a very popular area for bicyclists to train and ride for exercise. It is not uncommon on the weekend to run into packs of 15-20 riders out for what must be a 2 or 3 hour ride - between the hills and the ever present wind, it can be quite the workout.

I am not a bicyclist. I do have a bicycle, but I also have a circular saw and no one would say that I am a carpenter. I enjoy riding, but it is not my chief form of exercise - that would be running. I know what you are thinking, the guy in the upper left hand corner of this blog post does not look like a runner. I agree, God did not bless me with long legs or a thin torso - but I run none-the-less. Most evenings you can find me running on one of the many trails around the Kansas City area. I will be the big guy in the baseball hat, baggy shirt and baggy shorts. Actually, if you do see me biking I will look the same, except with a helmet, baggy shirt and baggy shorts.

This is what makes me laugh at the "bicyclist" I saw when driving my kids to school. Anyone who has watched even a snippet of bike racing knows that the bicyclists look like European NASCAR drivers. They are wearing tight, skin-tight, singlets with the names of sponsors all over them. They are very brightly colored and just look fast. They are slick and shiny, and on a 130 pound man, probably improve aerodynamic efficiency and can result in seconds being saved off of a time trial or kilowatts of power being saved on a mammoth climb in the Alps.

However, to the easily 250 pound man riding up the hill a couple of weeks ago, I do not think a skin tight racing suit is reducing your aerodynamic drag. I'm pretty sure it is your gut. I too am gasto-intestinally challenged and find that my gut reduces my aerodynamics. I don't think cramming that into a sausage casing is going to help me any. Just because I dress like an athlete doesn't mean I am one. In fact, since it appears you are trying to exercise for health and possibly weight loss, increasing your drag will only increase the calories burned - work smarter, not harder.

I love to take these random moments and make tenuous links to my practice. And since I celebrated my 4th anniversary of my 1st patient on Saturday, I am going to take the liberty to do just that. See, the reason people dress like Lance Armstrong when they are riding the bike is because they want to imagine that they are Lance Armstrong. They put on the clothes not for the purpose for which they were intended. Lance Armstrong doesn't wear those clothes so that he feels like a bike rider; I'm pretty sure you can ride the Tour de France in jeans and a sweatshirt. He wears those clothes because they make him better at what he does.

Our practices are the same way. The reason my practice works and survives is because I do things that make me better. Dr. G. does the same thing - what works for him may be silly if I do it and vice versa. This works for so many of the things that we have discussed on the blog over the past year - what clothes you wear, what equipment you use, what CE you attend.

The best armamentarium is the one that makes you better at what you already do very well - it is the icing on the cake (pardon the caloric analogy). I didn't start my practice trying to look like it does today, it looks like it does today because I have continued to fine tune it and adjust it. I have become more stream-lined and aerodynamic in all phases of my practice. I can dress my office up in signs and music and fancy gizmos but if I'm not already good without those things, people will notice. It is called a dental PRACTICE because we never get it right - we are always adjusting and fine tuning. If we get bored or feel like it is stagnant, maybe we need to look and see if it is time to increase our aerodynamics. Maybe it is now time to wear a skin-tight suit to work with ads for GC America and AGD on your back.

Or maybe it is time to realize that the practice you are frustrated with is not really what you wanted it to be. You were like the guy dressed like Lance Armstrong but frustrated because you can't climb a simple hill in a Kansas City suburb without hitting your cardiac max. Maybe it is time to take off the costume and embrace who you really are. May your practice reflect you - not your dad, mentor, management consultant, colleague.

That's it from me today. I'm going to let the voices enjoy doing some dentistry.

Have a great week!



Anonymous said...


Ken said...

It's obvious you know nothing about cycling clothing. Aerodynamics are not the primary reason cyclists wear tight jerseys and shorts made from synthetic fabrics. It's all about moisture management. Wearing synthetics tight against your skin helps shed moisture from both sweat and rain, helping to maintain your core temp. Go out for a ride in your baggy cotton T-shirt and get caught in the rain, and experience a little hypothermia, you'll be in the bike shop the next day buying a cycling jersey. BTW, your ass would probably be a lot happier in bike shorts that have a chamois in them but we'll save that story for another day

Anonymous said...

Probably not the response you were looking for. But At least you got people talking. Plus Ken if probably right. LOL

Anonymous said...

i say you're onto something ric: i enjoy my brightly colored-corporate-sponsored bicycling jersey while doing upper molar endos. it's both aerodynamic, and wicks moisture away from my pits.

i will leave advise on your rear end and its happiness to the experts.

Anonymous said...

WOO, sounds like Ken has a chamois up his A$$. You are only as successful as the people you surround yourself with. Staff, mentors, relatives all have something to say, but they may not be positive comments.Give yourself permission to ignore and distance yourself from those that would hinder your success. Introduce them to the practice down the street.:)

Edward Logan said...

Hey Ric, well stated. I am going to have to represent, though, that Lance would be less than happy with the chafing he would encounter when attempting to ride the Tour in jeans and a sweatshirt. Nonetheless, as both a dentist and a cyclist, I would have to agree with the comment about donning my jersey to wick moisture while in the heat of 2nd molar dentisty!


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