Last week, BotchedExperiment joined a group of friends I was riding with. It was a perfect day for mountain biking: 76 degrees, and the desert mountain singletrack was in that state where it’s dry enough not to stick to your tires, but hasn’t yet become dusty.
Intrigued to finally meet a guy who consistently has some of the best comments on my blog, I rode most of the way with Botched: talking with him, getting suckered by him (he briefly had me convinced that he was a convicted felon), and frequently falling off my bike for his entertainment.
Also, I noticed that Botched has a fluid, easy style on his bike. He was easily doing tight hairpin turns. He was doing little jumps off rocks. He was doing effortless wheelie drops. He was comfortably hopping sideways across gullies. And he was doing this all in such a way that made it look like he wasn’t really working—like he and his bike had just come to an agreement on what to do, and now they were doing it.
It made me think: my relationship with my bike is not quite so comfortable. I tend to whine and wheedle with my bike, begging it to please—just this once—do what I want it to. “Look,” I say to my bike (sometimes aloud, sometimes in a furtive whisper), “would it kill you to keep traction while I ride up this loose section with the waterbars and boulders? Is that really so much for me to ask of you?”
When you think about it, practically everyone has some kind of relationship with their bike, and it’s pretty easy to tell what it is just by watching them.
Master and Servant
When Bob’s on his bike, you know who’s in charge. Bob is, that’s who. Watching him approach a tricky move is vastly entertaining because you get the sense he wants to punish the bike, bash the stupid thing against the rock ledge. Show it who’s boss. Bob wrenches the handlebars side to side, lunges over rocks, lands hard. If the bike ever had a will of its own, Bob soon crushes it.
Brad is the exact opposite of Bob. He rides with gravity-defying grace, not so much riding up ledges as flitting. Obstacles cease to be obstacles when Brad is nearby, and instead become props on the stage for his ballet. A tight, twisty series of turns looks like a waltz when Brad’s on his bike. Sometimes Brad leads, sometimes his bike does.
It doesn’t look as fruity as I just made it sound, though.
Enthusiastic Readers of Steven Covey Books
Rocky and his bike seem to be imbued with a “can-do” attitude. They’re highly effective. They’re both firmly in quad 1 (“This move is both Urgent and important!”), and work enthusiastically and efficiently to accomplish their primary objective: to clean the current move. Then they modestly act like it was no big deal, because modesty is a desirable attribute of highly effective people, too.
Bickering Old Married Couple
That’s Kenny. He’s on his bike so much that it’s developed aches and pains—I’ve been with him when a frame has cracked (“Oh, my aching back!”) and earlier this week I mentioned how a crank dropped off (“I think I broke my hip.”). Still, they understand each other better than anyone else ever will, and you can’t imagine them away from each other.
Dug doesn’t care what bike he’s on, and it shows. He barely acknowledges that the bike exists, and when asked how he likes his bike, he says, “It’s fine,” regardless of what he’s riding. The bike, for its part, does what is asked of it, sort of the same way a stranger will scoot over for another stranger on a bus, perhaps giving a mild, noncommittal smile: “Well, since we’re together for the trip, we may as well make the best of it.”
That About Does It
I’m pretty sure that covers it for bike/rider relationships. In fact, i’m so sure, i’m willing to wager a Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bag that nobody could possibly come up with a better one.