Note: This "Grounds for Insanity" column was published in the 07/30/12 edition of The Goshen News. Pick me! Pick me!
It was shocking. There they were, the elite cyclists in the racing world, climbing one of the Pyrenees Mountains in the Tour de France. Demonstrating incredible strength and conditioning, they were conquering that slope, perched on seats the size of postage stamps.
“How do they do it?” I wondered aloud. “How do they climb an incline like that without stopping, without a mocha and without having their thighs burst into flames? How?”
“Come to spinning classes and we’ll show you,” said a friend who teaches spinning.
I laughed. It’d take more than a spinning class to get this girl into shape. There were too many factors working against me, the first one being my distractibility. Put plainly, I was a gawker. How would I ever focus on winning a race while passing castles and ancient ruins in the French countryside? This was a dangerous proposition if you were in the middle of the pack where the least sneeze or hiccup could level the whole kaboodle.
Then there were the delightful French citizens lining the course, cheering as the riders blew past. For a social butterfly, this would be all kinds of risky. When every stranger was a potential friend, I’d never be able to keep both hands on the bars and my eyes on the road. Waving here, waving there, beaming like Kid Kaboom's krypton spotlight at all those people; well, it spelled disaster.
Yes, distractibility was an issue. No corporate sponsor would endorse an athlete to rubberneck through each town and village, looking for some famous French coffee. Team Schrock would be on its own, I had no doubt.
But back to the shocking thing that happened on the mountain. There they were, the cycling greats, dashing along in brightly-colored Spandex and catchy helmets on those itty, bitty seats when boom. One after another, tires began to blow, sidelining riders right and left. By the time it was over, roughly 30 riders had been nailed (pun intended), waylaid by tacks in the road.
Over and over, they played the clips. Grave newscasters, brows furrowed, appeared appropriately shocked. “Who would so such a thing?” they tsked as cameras panned in to show an offending tack on a trembling palm.
“Send me over there,” I wanted to shout. As a mom, I knew how to deal with stinkers, European or otherwise, who pulled stunts like that. Furthermore, maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all if they’d put mothers on security. If French mothers with their built-in criminal detection software, had banded together, lining the route, it could’ve been just another day of death-defying dashes, hairpin turns and a sweaty pack chasing the yellow jersey down the mountain.
Which is apparently what they missed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. At our house we clung, breathless, to the side of the couch, marveling at the frontrunner and the pace he was setting. Suddenly, someone, a lunatic, lunged from the crowd as he passed, shoving him, disrupting his rhythm and pace. Horrified, we watched as he stumbled, losing his place and losing the gold. Someone here shouted. Someone Else may have thrown a shoe (Adidas, size 11), and all of us together expressed our angst.
Now, it's time. The Summer Games have just begun, this time in London. There’s already been some patriotic shouting. There's been a tearful moment at the sight of tearful American athletes, perched on podiums, receiving medals for God, mom and country.
Okay. So it was a commercial that aired the week before. So what? I’m a real fan. Which is why I’m going to call Ms. DeFrantz, American IOC member, and apply for the position. They need a team mom, and I’m the girl for that.
“Ms. DeFrantz,” I’ll say when she finally picks up. “Our athletes need a mother over there. They need someone who’s great at threat assessment; someone who can spot potential danger from the next province over. I can do that. Anyone who messes with my cubs finds out they’ve got a tiger by the tail and that the other end’s got teeth.
“These, after all, are the Games, the big leagues. Those kids have got to get their rest and eat right. After raising four boys, Mr. Schrock and I have this nailed. He’ll make sure they get to bed, and I’ll make sure they eat their veggies. They’ll be set to win stuff right and left under our system. There won’t be any doping, either, not on my watch. It's called maternal sonar and the Look of Death.
“As a four-time mom, I’m great at cheering from the sidelines. Just ask College Kid who could hear my voice over everyone else's on the cross-country course. Our athletes will know I’m there for them. I’m loud like that.
“If they win, I’ll cheer right with ‘em. If they lose, I’ve got a shoulder and a box of tissues. That's what moms do.
“Ms. DeFrantz, sign me up and send me over. Team USA needs me, and I’m ready to go. Let the Games begin.”