Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Knights of Old had Squires

In days of yore, the chivalrous heroes who dashed around on quests and crusades, rescued suitably wealthy damsels and duked it out for the local earl had little sidekicks who took care of the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of arms and armor. These breastplate-polishers and horse-waterers dealt with the mundane details of the chivalry business. I can only imagine what they said to the knights while performing these vital but unheralded tasks.

"What do you do with this f#%^%$%^ing sword?! Chop f$%^&^%$ing rocks with it? Do you lie in the salty surf in this armor? It wouldn't hurt you to OIL something once in a while!"

In the present day, the knight has been replaced by the athlete. Take cross-country skiers, for instance. Most of the racers pay lip service to the concept of thorough, frequent and meticulous waxing, but the majority of them have used a lot more quickie smear-on crap than they might admit.

These knights need squires. Racers on a well-supported team might get products and services for periods of time, but every one of them has to fall back on their own resources eventually.

Big bike races rely on squads of mechanics who keep the machinery running. Cross-country ski teams rely on wax technicians. Freelance racers have to polish their own bases or live with the consequences. A lucky few manage to get someone else to bring the love.

A couple of days ago my associate in Nordic technical matters undertook the full prep on our own noble knight's two sets of skating skis. Sir Smears-a-lot had been resorting to the wishful-thinking paste a bit frequently of late. He IS a busy man. So squire G put the racing sticks in the lovin' oven for a rebirth of speed. A few hours in the sauna with the base prep wax was followed by an overnight rest. After that Big G laid in a coat of moly-fluoro base wax followed by some XIMS HF6.

Our skating champion paced and fretted for hours as he waited for Big G to finish the meticulous process. It did involve a lot of ironing and scraping. It was worth it, though. The knight came back bursting with enthusiasm. Now squire G has a permanent assignment as Minister of Speed.

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