Friday, August 31, 2012

Gula-Gula Cafe Ride, revisited

Back in February this year I wrote a blog entry entitled Gula-Gula in which, if you care to read it, I describe my first authentic 'Cafe Ride'.  Now I'm not talking about the first time I ever rode my bike to a coffee shop for a cup of coffee.  I'm talking about the first time it was existential for me, the starting point of a different mindset around riding my bike woven into a higher life experience and the cycling lifestyle as an expression of my personal character not just as a means to physical strength or a rub into competitive extremes.

So these days when I refer to a 'Cafe Ride' I'm really talking about a different ride perspective and purpose, one intent on texture, esthetic & the splendid luxury of memorable experience that everyone desires in their life.  There's a unique classroom and elegance that forms when a group of people share the roads together exploring planet earth on bicycle machines.  'Cafe Rides' are about such things.

Riding bikes just to train and training just to ultimately race have their perks and yeah I still love to compete; put on the war paint, lock-n-load and all that stuff, but there is a whole lot more out there too.  And the 'Cafe Rides' by my definition are a gateway to these things.  It's rolling just to roll and letting it happen out there in a healthy, connected and social way.

Cafe rides are now a staple in my cycling/racing lifestyle and I'll keep doing them.  It's cool too to see that without any effort great people actually want to join I write about the rides/journey's etc & as more people just hear about what we're doing they seem to want to be a part of it.
Brad, me, Charlie Pearch, Pres Rapha Cycling Club, London, UK & Charlie's friend Sean (?)
Last week the President of the Rapha Condor Cycling Club, London, UK Charlie Pearch sent an email to US North East members in support of the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo at the end of September and also that he was going to be in Cambridge for a few days and wanted to ride the 'Rapha Continental Walden Pond ride'.  Walden is in my back yard so I helped coordinate an awesome ride for us.  Charlie had done a little research and was somewhat familiar with the 'Cafe Rides' we've been doing and he thought they were cool.  So we agreed to meet at the Diesel Cafe in Davis Square; which was a super cool spot, and we rolled west from there around Walden Pond, the world renowned DeCordiva Museum, in Lincoln and the Concord North Bridge... before looping our way further west into American Indian territory of Harvard and grabbed a bite to eat at the Harvard General Store before looping back into Davis Square in Somerville and the Deisal Cafe. It was a perfect day.  Charlie was an awesome guy and strong rider too.  We had great conversation for the entire ride; all 150 smooth kilometers of it. And then we hung out together, with Brad there too, back at Diesel Cafe for another hour or so.

I hope to do Levi's Grand Fundo ride in late September,  think it's in San Francisco?  Some of the Rapha Pro guys are doing it, as is Charlie and there's a chance I may be able go.  I almost forgot to mention that Charlie also gave me a rockin Rapha Condor Team Jersey which I still can't believe. 

Peace and roll strong!

PS; Here are some pics of Saturday's Cafe Ride the day before the Walden ride, which wasn't too shabby either. It was just Kelrock, Me and V-neck.  We were out for about 8 hours all said and done.
Kel's first ride since shattering his collarbone in July

The Barrington Cafe.  Seaport, Boston Harbor.  High end, business sheik & great coffee

Lunch in Harvard Square
Last stop, Studio Cafe in Lexington.  Sam Adams was there.


Thursday, August 30, 2012


The residual effects of sailing for a few days are interesting.  There are the physical ones; like twelve hours removed my balance is askew still feeling the rolling sensations of Vineyard & Nantucket Sound in my legs and the good pain of too much salt and sun.  And then there are the contemplative things that occupy space for a while as well.

My close friend Jim Tomlinson is also Co-Founder w/ me at Andrew Mitchell & Company.  Jim is also an avid sailor.  Having grown up on Marion Harbor and living there now, sailing has always been a constant for Jim, similar to riding for me.  So several weeks ago we made plans to spend time on the water, sailing to Edgartown on Cape Cod,  to discuss our company and to just unwind away from complexities on personal fronts.

Actually lost my reading glasses into the drink leaning to take this pic. 
This is time well spent. We're both more comfortable and think more critically in the open space of the sea or a mountain road than we are in the staleness of an opulent board room.  Andrew Mitchell & Company was built on the premise of mobility, autonomy and empowerment so it kinda makes more than a little sense for us to do business from locations of passion rather than prison, as it were.

It's cool too because after a year and a half of full operations we're nearly at our break even number and while this is behind our goal of a year, it far exceeds what any one else in our industry has accomplished and has quieted most of our critics as we continue to grow despite meaningful personal challenges siphoning significant energy away from our target.  So as we gear up and plan the next 6 months we go in knowing that our model, in and of itself, has real legs to scale as big as we want (which is enormous, btw) and we're here to stay.  We have continued to enhance our platform and have new expansion strategies in the weeds for Fall. 

As productive as business can be on a boat you can't be on one for very long and not have discussions bend around personal issues.  It's an accelerant.  At some point, especially after a silky red is flowing, conversation will shift to it as easily as sail catches a natural breeze.  Not surprisingly we discussed much about passion and pain, culpability and fairness.  I must hold these to myself for now but there was a lot channeling and placement of things.  I may speak to them at a latter time.

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Strengh and honor

In light of the Lance Armstrong debacle;  Here's a entry about an American cycling hero on the bike and in life.

A few days ago someone on facebook posted a video of Davis Phinney (w/ his son Taylor) talking about his life today living with Parkinson's disease and I was touched by this.  Davis is an impressive guy, always has been.  And his whole Parkinson's story is incredible.  The sheer courage that Davis and others like him victimized by this condition have to manage every day is unimaginable and heartbreaking.  But that's not what I want to talk about just now.

What I want to talk about was my visceral response to a more sutble observation in the video specifically the manner in which father and son, through genteel phrasing and an ease of body expression, showed a really strong admiration and love for each other.  It was palpable and inspiring.  But that doesn't really surprise me.  It's consistent with what I know about Davis.  He was a strong dude on and off the bike and always had courage to do what he thought was right for himself.  Being a great bike racer was one of those things, living in daily victory over a horrific decease is another and so too, it is clear now, was being a great father and that's not easy today.  Not easy at all.  Some approach it in certain ways but very few actually and honestly have it.

Like most of us I know about Davis's extensive cycling achievements domestically and in Europe; most notably his time with Team 7-11 & crew and stage win at the Tour as well having won more races than anyone in US history.  And that's why, as a budding rider, I read his book, co-written w/ his wife,Olympian Connie Carpenter-Phinny, called Training for Cycling.  It was a great book loaded with effective bottom line training stuff but also a bunch of interesting stories and details around why and how he became a bike racer.  One story still stands out to me all these years later and I thought about it while I watched the video.

The story was that Davis had a teacher in High School (Colorado?).  I think this teacher was a rider/racer of some sort and Davis told this guy that he wanted to race bikes for a living.  To his surprise Davis said the teacher tried to squash his dream to do this, telling him to pitch the idea, it was a pipe dream, no one could possibly make a living racing a bike.  Davis's response was something like 'Boy am I going to prove you wrong...or boy, are you wrong.'

What Davis said precisely doesn't really matter, it's not the point, because it was his strength of conviction in what he wanted that is so impressive!  It was super strong and in expressing it Davis was honoring his dream and his passion and that's huge because it set the course of his life in the direction he wanted.  Very few high school kids have this level of conviction for themselves.  In fact most people, in their entire lives, never get to that place.  I was impressed, still am.  And watching the video on facebook the other day I recognized the same strength and honor on display again listened to how Davis battles Parkinson's everyday and also more subtly, but no less impressively, how he must have nurtured it daily in the raising of his child to build what is clearly a very strong and very close relationship with Taylor.  Such good and vital things.

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hide & Seek

What is it about the game Hide & Seek that is so alluring to children?  My 10 year old self loved it.  It was one of my absolute favorite games.  Maybe it was the competition of finding the best hiding place first and being clever enough to not be found by the 'It' player.


I liked the countdown too.  After all you only had roughly to the count of fifty to find a good hiding place.  I never saw a rule book but I'd estimate that a proper H&S countdown should have taken roughly a minute but every game I ever played the countdown was accelerated into a rapid & voluminous stream of garble:

...ready or not here I come!

It sounded more like the muffled blades of a helicopter than language.  Pretty much everyone could rip off a countdown in fifteen seconds tops, so you had be flight of foot and think fast to be well hidden within fifteen seconds, which added pressure that I thought made it even more fun.

We played it a lot too, indoors and out, day or night and we all got pretty good at it.  But after a while you get so good at hiding that the game really slows down because no one can find anyone anymore.  When this happens the fun quickly erodes and the game becomes more like boorish torture.

Twenty five minutes curled up in the barrel of a washing machine isn't all that much fun.  In fact, by today's standards it would be reason to call DSS because encasement in a dark, cold metal cylinder is more akin to water boarding than a kids game.  Chinese Water torture sounds tame by comparison.

*Innuendo alert

When you get to a certain point in the game; (when it's dark and you're alone and no one cares) you realize that you're at a crossroads and have a choice to either continue playing alone inside a metal tube of phobia & self destruction or resign yourself to the fact that no one actually cares about where you are hidden or about finding you for that matter, they've long since given up.  And at the end of all that you also discover that the game is much better, more fun and more fulfilling when people actually do find you and when you find them.

This is a multi-tiered epiphany and it happened to me one afternoon when; after half an hour laying in the roof compartment of my parents convertible, I realized that the other kids had all given up trying to find me and were entirely resigned to this fact. So I guess I won the game; no one found me, but for all intents and purposes it was a Pyrrhic victory.

There I was cramped in a convertible's roof compartment by myself for a purpose that no longer existed.  When I finally decided to call it quits I found the other kids huddled together in the warm amber light of our family room on a fall afternoon watching the Redskin game on TV eating Klondike bars.  And that's when I woke up and realized that hiding for so long I had lost more than the win was worth...I remember thinking 'Damn, look at that.... huh?  I need a Klondike bar too'.

Peace and roll strong.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bike Chi, flushing baggage

The Strava App ought to have a 'Fun Factor' index built into it.  If they did I'm pretty sure my ride on Saturday with Brad Warren  (aka v-neck) would show some mighty intimidating stats.  So to you Strava whores out there, here's what our numbers said. 

Goal, Mind dump & lactate flush
Total Time,  8 hrs 
Saddle Time,  5:30 hrs
Speed Rolling Ave,  13.4 mph
Normalized Watts,  51
Cafe Stop's,  4
Friend contacts (in ride),  3
Protracted cafe & friend time,  2:30 hrs  
Scaled Fun (1-10),  9.375

"My my, those stats sure look inefficient" you say?  But I beg to differ.  You see my friend, riding a bicycle isn't just about staying fit and fast, racing with war paint, tan lines and building a great bod, surely it's not.

Its about many, many other things.  Things that matter more, like the space to dump your minds weight and room to pour life into your lungs and essence into your heart.  It's about grit in your eyes, rain in your ear and a bug in your teeth.  It's about riding a traversing kaleidoscope of access away from things and toward things.  It's about holding control in your own two hands and an epic freedom found in a righteous tailwind.  And lastly it should be about friends, 'true' friends that gift texture, fabric and meaning into a mutual journey.

Ride Studio Cafe, Lexington, MA 
Everyone has situations that challenge friendships.  I had one recently and have thought a lot about it and I've landed on a couple things I want to affirm.  First of all,  life, love and death all happen and we do what we must because the heart wants what the heart wants.

Secondly, we roll this pilgrim's journey together with quandary attachments. Sadly, these can be friends that are not in a place they want to be. Too often times it's the asphyxiation of choices that compromise and take away the sweet nectar of life and fear that prevent them from doing for themselves what their content soul requires.  Resentment builds and eventually it stains the happiness of everyone around them because its all they know, all they have to give and because Misery loves company.

A 3 foot mechanical puppet sired by George Lucas once said 'Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering'.  Excluding his fictionalization, Yoda the Jedi was universally right. There are many layers in these things and to ignore them is to discard everything lastingly positive.  If you fear following your true heart you will suffer and eventually so will everyone else around you.  It's a certainly.  I often think about this.

Peace and roll strong.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Still waters run deep

I was reading Tai-Pan last night.  Many characters in Clavalls writings are person's of great reserve (like LuMo) and calm confidence.  And the characters in Tai-Pan are no different.  As I was reading, it occurred to me that this is a rare quality in western society.  In America we're often encouraged to express ourselves openly and wholeheartedly, which isn't good all the time.  But it's not healthy to be wound up like geisha feet either.  Balance, so much comes back to it.

Mainstream mores here don't teach us that behind the placid exterior there often hides a deep and passionate person with a subtle but strong nature of great desire & intent.  It's too bad too, because I think this demure outward expression communicates far more effectively than pontificating opinions, observations and desires and often times the unassuming communicates with more elegance and grace.  Missing this is everyone's loss.

Is there a musical instrument more innocuous and yet as expressive as a ukalally.  It speaks through us with cords like no other instrument.  This tune by Eddie Vedder, and the lines from it below, show what I'm trying to say.
 'And when the time is right, 
I hope that you'll respond
like when the wind gets tired
the ocean becomes calm'   -E.Vedder 

Peace & roll strong.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Training ride in Valhalla

  Of Monsters & Men, From Iceland, land of Vikings.
 First concert was in a bike shop.

This entry is a request by some of the guys from the Fitchburg, MA Tuesday night ride.  So thanks for the request guys and here's for nothing.

There probably are harder training rides in NE than the Fitchburg Tuesday night ride but not many.  I've been on faster and hillier training rides too but few that are as physical as this one.  And by physical I mean it's just hard-man riding.  The roads are rugged and sharp out there (about 45 miles West of Boston).  The area has some interesting and legitimate bike racing history too.  The famed Art Lonjo, 1958 Olympic Bike Racer and Olympic Speed Skater grew up and trained here prior to a car accident ending his life prematurely.  To this day I think he is the only American to achieve this tandem Olympic combination in the same year.  Also, the Country's first world famous track racer Major Taylor lived and trained here but to a lesser degree.  Major moved to Worchester, about 10 miles south, to ride & race, leaving his home in Indianapolis. I think Major also went on record saying that in addition to the bike culture up here another motive for moving was that he encountered less prejudice than in Indianapolis.  Peter Nye wrote a cool book about 15 years ago call 'Heart's of Lions: The history of American Bike Racing', which mentions this.  Worcester has a yearly hill sprint race in Major Taylor's honor.  I guess it's on the same hill he used to train on.

And anybody that has done the Fitchburg Lonjo Classic Stage Race (including past winners Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, Chris Horner, Davis Phinney, Frank McCormack and a raft full of other top guys) can also testify as to the rugged quality of these roads.  If Vikings were bike racers, these are some of the roads they would be on. 

This particular group ride has been going on for about 15-20 years running and there's a hard man mindset to it, as I mentioned before.  First of all they leave at 6pm, sharp!  A few minutes late and you're out because they are gone and you're not going to catch on. They fly straight out of the parking lot and keep the pedal down for 2 hours.  I dread and worry more about getting dropped in the first fifteen minutes than anything else.  It's very uncomfortable and something I hate but it's not my ride and not my place to say anything so I just hang in there and suffer the best I can.  But more than anything I feel like the ride is helping me and the guys are really cool to train with, they get it (know what I'm saying?)  so I keep coming back.

My friend Luciano Paven (Luch) has asked me to train out there a while now but I only took him up on it recently.  I guess I've done 5 or 6 rides so far.  I think these rides are helping my V02 uptake and SE and I believe it is is helping other guys too.  Luch, for example, is arguably New England's most improved rider this year getting consistent top 5 placings in 1-2 categories.  Luch also has a full time job and I think that is important to mention for lots of reasons.  Here's what he said  "We ride hard, without thinking much about watts or training strategy.  Its very primitive which makes it in a way meaningful."  Luch was picked up by regional powerhouse Met Life Racing this year and for good reason.  He's flying.

The roads themselves noodle throughout the Mt. Wachusett basin in Worcester Co Mass and Mt. Manadnock Valley in southern NH.  This is land winter haven and the roads show it.  Much of the surface is choppy with an irregular patchwork of pot holes caused by frost heaves that break the road apart all winter long.

After Tuesday nights ride I couldn't believe how fatigued I was, again.  After a while hanging out talking with the guys I recalled an article I read about cutting edge weight lifting technique where the movement is performed on a vibrating pad.  The vibrations make the movement much more difficult and tiring because it recruits deep stabilizer muscle tissue into the movement.  It occurred to me that this should have the same training effect on a bike and this certainly is a part of what's happening on this ride. There's no science here, just my observation.  Don't get me wrong though.  It's not like off road riding, it's just not smooth in any extended section.  A lot of it is choppy and this makes you stronger.

Here's the only picture of Art Longo I could find.  Penny Loafers take it back.  Art was best friends & training partners w/ semi retired NE race announcer Dick Ring that everyone up here knows and loves.

Here's a picture of Major Taylor.

Peace and roll strong.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Season's Vignette

2012 Rapha NE Gentlemens Race.  Highlight so far...

 ...the rest, various and sundry.....
Bringing it home...longest hard day Monday 8/13/12
NYC Mengoni 8/11/12

Witches Cup, Salem (something bit my forehead) 8/8/12
8/1/12 Corima's on Thoreau

Bonding with new team-mates

Sunday with Luciano & Brad

Richard Goodwin

Gulu, Salem  April 2012
DC Cherry Blossum, March 2012

VeloNation pic/Tour of Somerville Memorial Day 2012

Concord NH Break. 8/4/12

Witches Cup, break grp., 8/8/12

Wells Ave. The day after B2B

Delerium, poor shape this day/ Back Bay /March 2012
Casual Friday 8/03/12

NYC 8/11/12

Concord NH / 8/5/12


I don't believe in miracles in the traditional sense but I believe in hope, the human spirit and in the potential of forces around destiny and desire we, as evolving creatures on planet earth, don't yet understand.  I'm open to these elements of universe because they aren't proclamations of absolutism written by humanly flawed men of agenda.  I'm not trying to be mean it's just what I believe but I respect every persons right to differing opinions of well intent as long as they respect mine and those of others.

This tune is a little preachy but I like the way Matisyahau (aka, Matt Miller) breaks stereotype and jabs at certain misplacement's around happiness and fulfillment, and about seventy percent of what he actually says speaks to common ground everyone can relate to.  In this case it's hardship. 

Sooner or later we're all bound to stumble and fall but I think that during these times there's an opportunity to affirm yourself and your beliefs around who you want to be and where you want to go.  Too often during these times there is a strong tendency to latch onto routine, forgetting that repeating a pattern of familiarity is likely the cause for your situation.

People in distress migrate to things that provide them w/ parameters of syntax, reason and a direction, regardless of whether these things hold universal truth or not.  I think it's because they're afraid to abandon what is familiar to them.  I guess maybe part of it is also because they're over-engaged in the opinion of others, which is sad.  This need to keep up false appearances stunts their happiness, limits their success and makes their life an expression of compromise.

Someone said doing the same thing expecting a different result is the definition of insanity and yet so many continue to do it out of fear, which is a huge flaw.  I think its good to examine this within ourselves more often and to avoid it as much as possible.  If we could actualize positive change on a regular basis rather than repeating the same things, we'd have better responses to hardship and I think we'd see a lot more 'Miracles' in this world.

Peace and roll strong.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mengoni Grand Prix

It's always a trip racing in Manhattan and yesterdays' Mengoni Grand Prix was no different.  I come down from Boston and Jon Lowenstein is a Rhodie guy so getting to Central Park in NYC for a 6:00am launch requires a concerted effort.  We go down together once or twice a year just for yucks and a change of pace so we have the routine totally dialed but this year I didn't bother to register (don't ask) and went down chancing I'd get in.  I was 104th guy listed so I figured I'd get in.  Worst case if I didn't, I'd  just spin the park so either way I wasn't worried.

As it turned out I got in so I'm glad I didn't bother to even sweat it.  And besides, while the race is great, the aesthetics of The Empire City at 4:30am are extraordinary and leave me w/ impressions I appreciate and enjoy.  At this early hour the entire city is a massive cavernous whisper.  It's still really dark out and there aren't any people walking around anywhere or cars on the roads or any sounds at all to speak of.  As serendipity would have it, this makes for a unique time to see and really take in the City's design vignette, it's incredible scale of handsome yet colossal brick and mortar towers, contemporary & traditional that are enhanced with structural ornament or inlaid with grand art.   No distractions. Very amazing.

It's a weird and beautiful scene in a surreal sense and as Jon and I rolled toward the race registration along 5th aveneue then passing the Gutenhiemr the only sound you could hear was the rhythmic 'wugah-wugah' of the Corima MCC wheels on my bike.  I almost felt like I was stealthing about in the bedroom of a sleeping Giant because even though you can't see any sign of active human life you can feel a massive beating heart.   The place has a pulse.  It's palpable and it might even be fair to say NYC has a pulse like no other place in the world.  I like NYC a lot but I also have mixed feeling about it.   I think it can be good but not good for everyone, not all the time, because NYC can make you or really break you and you get that distinct feeling there.  To put it another way, when the sleeping Giant wakes, you can be either kissed or you can be eaten.  It all depends on who you are and what you want.  Not for nothing, I just can't help but wonder about such things when I'm there.   

5:00 am registration
The race itself was as fun, or as fun as a 28.6 mph average circuit race can be.  The Mengoni GP is always edgy racing, it's really kinetic but not terribly physical but always fast....and that's why we like racing it, for the speed.  During the race today some guy told Jon the average speed for the first 25 miles was 30.2 mph.  I don't know about 30.2 average(?) but is was stupid fast.

The trip home after the race is always cake.  Jon can get us out of the city and into Connecticut in under 15 minutes.  And this all happens before 10am while you're still basking in the adrenalin haze of racing, sipping down ice cold chocolate milk, waxing life poetic with a friend.   Life doesn't get any better.     Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Smile, Laugh?

Levity helps.  Laughter, humor or a benign smile can go a long way, sometimes, toward lightening troubled spirits, soothing bruised people or mending painful fields, if only temporarily.  Often-times the only thing left between the tightrope of despair and life actually, is something funny.  The clip below by Band of Horses wraps a lovely but despondent lyrical track with what we could call 'slapstick' humor, and shows what I'm trying to say. 

I don't want to over think this but save for the humor in this montage, someone could get pretty damn depressed listening to just this song because for anyone with a pulse it urges pausing emotion.  I've heard that many professional comedians are individuals coming from a place of extraordinary pain and from this well of wound they draw humor copious.  I guess there are reasons/medical science behind all that stuff.  I don't care too much about all the clinical reasons why but I can see this in the comedians I've seen.  It's pretty obvious if you pay attention and it makes me sad wondering about what may have happened in their past.

I took a psychology class in high school but I forgot most of it.  I remember one experiment though.  Our teacher (Jeff Beedy) instructed everyone in the class to laugh spontaneously for no reason at all and vigorously too.  Basically he wanted us to fake laugh really hard.  At first it was awkward as everyone began but after just a little while the whole class started laughing hysterically and in earnest.   It was really weird to me but I was laughing full on just like everyone else and felt really great, light and refreshed, afterward.  Like I said, the whole experience was really weird to me but it also imprinted the lesson that laughter on it's own, with or without reason or cause, can alleviate and lift a person from nearly any low.  Not sure what all this means, scientifically and such....just thinking out loud.

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time's a ticking.

Man, the weeks are flying.  It's Friday again & I woke up this morning thinking the days are getting noticeably shorter and it gave me a sense of urgency to fill as much stuff into the remaining days of summer as possible.  I don't necessarily like the feeling but I can honestly confess I get a lot more done under 'some' pressure.

Nothing like a little bit of urgency in a constricting space to get me locked and loaded.  I think a lot of us, if not all are the same way.  It's a primitive and powerful instinct that kicks in driving us forward (when necessary) to do what ever it takes in order to get things done.  To ignore it can be an emotional double whammy.

First of all this is your natural "GO" drug also known as an adrenaline boost.  It's your green light to go full throttle on the gas.  So use it.   If you don't your chemical physiology will get outta kilter.  You'll likely become nervous or anxious and without an outlet to balance yourself out you'll eventually become depressed.

Secondly, you're going to be less productive and this has many layers of ramification. Including failed goals, lost opportunity, and less life quality.  I know everyone knows this stuff, just an affirmation. 

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Real Olympic Sport

No disrespect but I'm getting antsy for to the real Olympics to start.  Not that most of the sports like swimming, cycling, soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, weigh lifting and such etc, aren't legitimate Olympic Sports because they totally are and I have massive respect for all of them.  But come on now?  Track & Field is the real show.  It's the Olympic Hallmark.  Take Track & Field out of The Games and there are no games(.) 

Everyone knows it too, the organizers, the networks, the majority audience and given enough truth serum probably most all of the athletes as well.  That's why Track & Field isn't first on the schedule.  It's last.  And it's last for a good reason, and that reason is because it's the Olympic sport that everyone unquestionable associates with the original Greek games.  It's the oldest Olympic sport and to this day remains the most authentic with Olympic origin.  On this basis one could argue that Track and Field is the best *Olympic sport.  The organizers understand this and that is why they save it for last.  By 'saving the best for last' they keep the world emphatically engaged for two entire weeks.  Basically they're giving us Something to hold on to, something to really look forward to so that we'll watch everything.  No big surprise there, I think its a good thing.. just pointing it out.

To me the butter of an Olympic highlight reel would consist of: Men's track100 meter / women's track 800 / both m&w track 1500 / decathlon / and the track relays.  If the games opened with these events I'm not sure how much more I'd actually watch.  Okay, to be fair I'd likely also watch all the other foot races and the field events too. 

One thing's is for sure though, after watching Track & Field I'd have measurably less interest in watching everything else.  I think my waning interest would still be acute enough to keep me watching the profile sports mention above but there would be a steep drop off.  I wouldn't be glued in there for two weeks like I am now.

I seriously doubt, for example,  I'd be watching the early rounds of air rifle and handball?  I mean, they sound super fun n' all and I'd do 'em at a bachelor party, but for me they have an intramural ringtone not commensurate with Olympic rings so I don't associate them front of mind, even back of mind, with the Olympics in any meaningful way.  Just saying.

Peace and roll strong