Posted by: fizzhogg | October 4, 2011

Of musical viruses and magic jerseys

Is this heaven?

No. It’s a Rapha jersey.

Greetings all. Yes, I have been away for a while. For a couple of weeks I was guest-blogging over at FAT CYCLIST.

The two most popular posts (generating thousands of hits) were about my son’s cycling adventures. You can read those HERE and HERE.

Other than that I’ve had work stuff, kids soccer, and weather get in the way of this project.

Austin is only two weeks away, and I need to log some miles. So on a cool morning recently, I was excited to get back in the saddle.

I put on a new jersey and new bibs, and set out with no destination in mind. Just miles. Just an experience. I got all that I asked for.

But before we go into the ride, I want to discuss…

Musical viruses.

“Musical Virus” is a game that my friends and I have enjoyed playing on many occasion.  For those that don’t know, a musical virus is when you put the tune of a song into the brain of another person (like a virus) and they are helpless against it. And you get bonus points for bad songs.

Example: You could put Born To Run into the brain of your opponent and score accordingly, and give your opponent a nice song to have bumbling around his/her brain. Or… you could put Tainted Love into the brain of your opponent and score Triple Bonus points, and cause your opponent to want to stick a fork in their eye.

Basically, you hum, whistle or sing a tune within earshot of your friend and then wait… for them to start humming, whistling or singing the song themselves. Against their will. Without any control whatsoever. Hence the virus part of it.

I have always been very good at this game. I can even do it via the Internet. Watch…

Remember the band Cheap Trick? And their 1978 smash hit Surrender? Sure, you do. It went like this. Rick Nielsen’s powerful guitar intro followed by:

Mother told me, yes she told me, I’d meet girls like you… 

And then there was the great chorus that we all remember:

Mommy’s all right, daddy’s all right, they just seem a little weeeeiiirrrdddd, surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself awaaaaay. Aaaayyyyyy. Aaaaayyyyyy. 

Yeah, you remember. Read that last part again.

And thus, a musical virus is born.

What you say? “What are you talking about, Fizz?”

Well, see, what is going to happen now is that – later on, when you least expect it, maybe while you’re still reading this, or maybe a couple of hours from now, you will have that song IN YOUR HEAD.

A musical virus.

And the only way to get rid of it is to let it simply run its course and leave your brain on its own… or else replace it with another tune.

Why am I talking about musical viruses? Because someone – and I can only think it must be The Goat – is playing the game with me… but on a totally subversive, subconscious level.

Lately, when I am out riding BY MYSELF – just me and The Goat – without our trusty iPod, a musical virus will pop into my head. And whomever is behind it, is going for MAX bonus points.

Because on my last two rides, the song that has popped into my head and will not go away is…

Sail On by the Commodores.

I am not such a horrible human to risk a musical virus on you by writing any of the lyrics here. Suffice it to say, it is an atrocious song, completely inappropriate for pushing one’s self on a bike.

And it kept popping into my head. Once I swore I even heard The Goat laughing.

But on my most recent ride, I was fortunate enough to not have the Song-Whose-Name-Shall-Never-Be-Mentioned-Here-Again in my brain. Probably because I had my iPod with me. I headed out as I always do, but then turned left where I usually turn right, and found a completely new place to ride.

What I also found was chilly weather, a healthy wind, and more traffic than I prefer. But something odd was happening. None of this was bothering me.

Th crisp weather and blowing headwind had no effect on me. The traffic was just noise. Why was I feeling so good? Why was I not whining about riding into a headwind? Why was I not silently complaining about my cold fingertips? Why was I simply enjoying the experience of the ride? What was different?

My jersey.

I’ve spoken before about the inspiring films Rapha makes. They sell high-priced cycling clothing and prior to last week I had never owned anything by them. But their films moved me in such a way that I broke down and spent more on a single jersey than I ever have on an entire kit.

I purchased the Rapha Country Jersey.

Honestly, I have no idea why I bought this thing, other than the Rapha films so inspired me.

The jersey is… well, magic. I call it my Thermos jersey. Then immediately apologize to the jersey for giving it such a lame name. But the thing is, it keeps you cool when you need to be cool, and it keeps you warm when you need to be warm. How does one jersey do both?


And not only is it the single most comfortable jersey I own (I own 11 jerseys from 6 different manufacturers), it is also the duffle bag of jerseys. The rear pockets are large enough to stow a mtn bike, and there’s this cool little zippered pocket that holds keys, money or an iPod perfectly, and speaking of iPods, the jersey also comes with a little hole for your headphones wire. All of this and it still feels like a skin suit against your body. A comfy, cozy skin suit.


I was so impressed with the Rapha brand that I went back to their site and ordered arm warmers and a really nifty water bottle. I hope to buy more jerseys, bibs and jackets down the road, but I will first need to take a second mortgage out on my house. That said…

I believe the Rapha jerseys are worth every single penny they cost.

Where was I? Oh, yeah – the ride. So there I was, riding along, enjoying sights and sounds and roads I’d never seen. Before long the traffic vanished and I found myself in a whole ‘nuther part of town. And I saw things I’ve never seen before. Like this:

A giant snake eating a mailbox. Why not?

I kept riding and came to another little town I had never ridden in. And found one of these:

That’s right. A Bass Pro Shops right there in the middle of… wherever I was. I figure I was about 25 or so miles from my regular route. And that’s another thing that is so awesome about a “Rapha Ride.” By the way, I have now named these types of rides “Rapha Rides” – the rides where you aren’t worried about speed or distance or time or heart rate or watts or anything else. You’re just riding.

The other thing that is so awesome about a Rapha Ride is that I barely looked at Hal 9000. I love my Garmin Edge 500, but on this ride I didn’t care how far I’d gone or how fast or how many feet I climbed. I was just riding.

And when you just go and ride you find the most amazing things. Like mailbox eating snakes, and little league fields with cemeteries in the outfield.

Wait, what?

You will probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it enough to see – but yes, any home run hit here will land on a dead guy.

I rode and rode and rode. New roads, new towns. I was feeling so good and feeling so Rapha that on my way home I decided to do something I would have never done before this magical jersey…

I rode the Katy Trail.

The Katy Trail is a rail trail that runs along the Missouri river for over 200 miles. Yes, you read that right. A bike/walking/running trail that runs uninterrupted for over 200 miles. The majority of the trail is crushed limestone according to the trail site. But there are definitely parts of it that are simply dirt. Or gravel. But mostly, it’s crushed limestone that winds along the river and through beautiful trees and foliage.

I have never ridden it because I had heard horror stories about road bikes on the Katy Trail. “It will destroy your rims.” “It will tear up any 23 or 25 road tires.” “There’s too much debris to get around.”

Obviously why would I ever want to take my road bike on something like that, right?

Then I saw the Rapha films. I saw the Rapha riders riding gravel and dirt and doing it on road bikes. Because of the experience.

So when I saw the sign for the Katy Trail, I turned The Goat and we hit the trail. I rode the Katy Trail for seven miles, and guess what? No flat. No puncture, nothing. I think as long as your tires are in good shape and you keep them fully inflated, chances of flats are slim.

It was amazing. Sure, there was the occasional branch or rock I had to avoid, but that made it interesting and kept my focus. I rode along looking at beautiful Momma Nature and the roiling Missouri River.

And again, I almost never looked at my Garmin Edge. When the ride was over, I had logged 57 miles with 2,700 feet of climbing. But it could have been 10 miles or 100 miles; could have been 200 feet of elevation gain or 12,000. I didn’t care. Because it was about the experience.

I can’t promise that all of you will have the same magical experience I had with my Rapha jersey, but I bet you would. I can’t wait for my next Rapha Ride. And can’t wait for my next Rapha jersey.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself awaaaaay.


Fair winds and following seas, Willy


  1. “Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself awaaaaay.”

    That is just mean. I shall return the favor, however…

    If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  2. Am I missing something here? I can understand the love affair with a jersey. I love the new game to play on my coworkers. What I think I’m missing is my bike has no name! Is naming your bike some kind of rite of passage? Do all the great riders name the bikes they ride? How do I choose a name, or should it be chosen for me by someone else and who should that be? Oh my I just realized I have 3 bikes of my own and one for the wife that will need naming! I’m in a quandary, what should I do? One of my mountain bikes I have ridden for 13 years and it has no name. This road bike I have also ridden for 4 years and it has no name. Will these bikes ride better if they have names? Please explain there must be fifty ways to leave your lover.
    Got ya

  3. Oh I don’t why she’s leaving or were she’s gonna go
    I guess she’s got her reasons but I just don’t wanna know
    Cause for 24 years I’ve been living next door to Alice

    24 years just waiting for a chance
    To tell her how I feel and maybe get a second glance
    Now I gotta get used to not living next door to Alice

    I hope you’re happy now Fizz my old mukka, you are probably unaware that you have in fact let slip the dogs of war. And those 2 verses above are just my initial warning shots across your bows.

  4. I’m sailing away
    Set an open course for the Virgin Sea
    ‘Cause I’ve got to be free
    Free to face the life that’s ahead of me

    I humbly submit your description above is fundamentally the reason why riding a bike is preferrable to just about any other physical activity. Well said. Though I must take exception to the notion that proper tire inflation is all that is required for flat avoidance. My nine flats in in seven months stand in testimony to that fact.

    Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads
    Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me

  5. Thank you ever so much for making me think of “musical viruses,” or earworms as my friends call them. You know the friends: our friends were all aboard, Many more of them lived next door. And the band begins to play….

    We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

    Aaaaaaargh! I can’t do this without it staying in MY head all day. Time to pull out the Metallica and Good Charlotte 😉

  6. I’m happy to see someone else out there (initially) concerned with the prices Rapha charges for their kit. Like you though, I’m a convert!

    P.S. I think the marino wool is the magic ingredient.

  7. […] I rolled out for a nice two-hour ride with the images of this great dvd in my head, and the magic of the Rapha kit on my Philip Seymour Hoffman-like physique. I decided I would do what’s called here in […]

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