In our efforts to bring you information from the front lines of the local mtb community, The Waterloo Hydrocut blog would like to introduce you to our first piece in the 5-part series, Legends of Lycra, which takes you on a comprehensive ride deep into the frightening world of the prototypical XC rider.
Be warned. At the trailhead, it may seem like a bright and harmonious world but it is indeed a confusing and dark one marred by insecurity and anxiety, further distorted by extreme surpluses of spare time and money. It is a chaotic domain fueled by online forums and retail shops. While many economists have unsuccessfully attempted to calculate the rational behaviours of its participants (editor’s note: Greenspan’s Carbon in the Marketplace, Paperback, 1995, is perhaps the most widely accepted XC economic theory), most now agree that there are a definitive set of variables at play at any given time: weight, carbon components, the Tightness-Of-The-Lycra (one term), and the retail price. Interestingly, these variables are also absolute. So, for example, less weight will always attract the XC rider, carbon components will always be necessary, the Tightness-Of-The-Lycra will never be tight enough, and the XC rider will always look to the most expensively priced product. There is some correlation, such as the positive correlation between carbon and retail price, but generally they may be mutually exclusive.
Our first piece in this exciting series focuses on a cornerstone of the XC world: Log Piles. If you ride at the Cuts or anywhere the enemy has managed to infiltrate, you will be familiar with these features. And our enemy always likes to remind us that they are indeed natural features. This is more a reflection of a highly complex psychological predisposition of XC riders beyond the scope of this piece. But it will be necessary to survey this pathology by way of introduction. The XC riders mind is caught between an acknowledgement of harmony with nature and an unconscious transgression of nature itself. On the one hand, he believes he is at congruence with the natural world as his bike has no exhaust and ecosystems remain intact while he works on his time trials. But, on the other hand, he moves unconsciously beyond nature by relying on a whole industry that pollutes and degrades the environment as much as any other in manufacturing top end products that ensure impressive time trial results. Needless to say, it is a perplexing situation.
This transgression causes colossal guilt borne by the XC rider and he must seek ways to resolve it. One way is the creation of “natural” features along the trail path to reinforce the harmony with the natural world. Log piles are one example of those natural features. The XC riders loves nothing more than to conquer the challenges nature throws his way and absorb them into his time trial results. They work with the natural world to reach their time objective and they reach their time objective despite the natural world.
This is why an XC rider will always remind us what the precise trail conditions were like when he finished the course in 1:14, “It was totally slippery out there, bro. But I had to power through it, you know. Had to work with the trails”. Or why an XC rider will often proclaim their love of this or that trial because of how it flows with nature or incorporates natural features, “I love that trail. The way it works with the land is truly organic and epic”. And, lastly, why an XC rider will berate others because they can’t handle the natural features inherent to off road biking, “Pfffffffff, if you cant handle the forest, keep your bike on the road, bro. This is what happens in the trails. Its gets a little rocky sometimes. You can’t control nature. You just need to work on your skills little man…and ride clipless. But, its cool, not everyone is made for it.”
This is where log piles enter the picture. Included in the trail because they add natural challenges to the terrain and divide the weak from the strong. Of course, there is nothing natural about the log pile. Any rider alien to the XC world who encounters this feature will immediately recognize it is artificial and premeditated. And, of course, there is nothing that should divide the weak from the strong here, either. Any rider alien to the XC world who encounters this feature will immediately recognize its just not that difficult.
But the XC universe is a very isolated place and this fuels their pomposity. Unaware that masses of urban and all mountain riders already maneuver over exponentially more complex (and unnatural) features without the use of carbon components and clipless pedals; the XC riders feels a profound sense of accomplishment when navigating over the treacherous log piles.
Enraged when one of their precious log piles is removed or adjusted, our enemy is still eager to remove any tree that falls naturally after a heavy storm. The latter being a hindrance to the “natural” flow, as determined by the grand committee. This is most likely due to the fact that these trees fall arbitrarily without warning and, further, vary in size. As I have eluded to, natural features need to be carefully designed and implemented, they cant simply happen naturally. That would be like biking in the forests…off…road. Insanity!
Log piles are certainly an enjoyable and valuable part of the off road experience. And the Cuts has no shortage of them. Indeed, its not uncommon to come into contact with several log piles on any given stretch of trail. The important thing to remember is to always pretend they are epically natural features and of great difficulty. When an XC rider is nearby, it’s a good idea to fake a bail over them or, if your acting skills are more modest, yell back to your buddy as a warning “Wohhhhh! Watch out! Crazy log pile ahead! I almost bailed. Be careful”. XC riders are already very unstable individuals; don’t aggravate them by trivializing their log piles.
Keep checking back for our next piece in the Legends of Lycra series, Group Rides. Theodore has returned from three weeks of undercover work which has generated hereto unprecedented insights into this fascinating aspect of XC life. Risky, I know, left alone for weeks with our enemy hordes. But don’t worry comrades; the force is strong with that one. Now if we could just return that $9,899 dollar bike he had to use to blend in…