Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Pacemaker's Beat

“There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can sit still;
So with single mind and double chin, they roam the world at will.”

Robert Service's doctored lines refer to the remarkable Derny men, the poem's relentless meter echoing the throb of a Derny man's Derny.

By definition, the Derny man is a leader; it's what he does -

The biological phenomenon known as 'convergent evolution' as demonstrated by these two bicyclists and their respective mounts.

   (Flann O'Brien famously touched on the close relationship of man and velocipede in “The Third Policeman”;
“The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles... when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”)

   In the world of cycling lean is the norm, but the best Derny men are on the heavy side, as with Sumo wrestlers a large girth is an advantage in their chosen sport; in the Derny man's case it makes him a more effective wind-break for those behind. Derny men are a dedicated group of semi-professionals much sought after in Europe and Japan. They act as pacers on their Derny bikes for racing cyclists whose speed is increased when they are are sucked in to the Derny man's sizeable low-pressure zone.

  A huddle of Derny men prepare for action, the tension mounts...

Here we have one Derny man show-boating, another doing the Derny work.

And so on and so forth.