Welcome back, comrades! Prepare yourselves…for once again we enter the world of our enemy; to avoid any unnecessary anxiety, pace yourselves and, remember, you can always take a break from the computer screen. Unfortunately, the latter did not apply to Theodore, periling for weeks far behind enemy lines as a full-fledged xc warrior in his undercover efforts to bring to us all unparalleled insight from the Otherside. And I regret to inform our reader’s that, predictably, those dark weeks have taken their toll on good Theodore who has returned to us stricken and disturbed by what he experienced. Relieved of his writing duties for this piece, Theodore has checked himself into xc rehab and is out enjoying the trails in a comfortable pair of shorts. Without spandex, stopwatches, and a $10’000 bike, rehab can be a strict but necessary process. The overall mission of xc rehab, however, is to ENJOY the trails; something, he’s been indoctrinated against during his time trial missions with the enemy. We wish him luck. And for those wondering…yes, he did give up his team jersey voluntarily. It’s been safely disposed of. An important step in the right direction…
With Theodore’s journal entries in hand, I, Reinhold, will seek to recreate those perilous weeks and provide you with an academic discourse on the most curious of xc phenomena. This is Part 2 of TWH’s Legends of the Lyrca: Group Rides.
Like all wild canids (except the largest of the true fox family, the red fox, who are to be commended for their individuality) our enemy lives in packs. It is a social group of variable size and, for all other canids, differs widely in social behavior. As our astute readers know, there is no diversity of social behaviour in the xc universe. So, packs here only vary by size. The biological origin of packs everywhere else in the world is an indication of familial bonds, adaption and necessity. In other words, packs exist as a strategy to survive and protect in any given environment.
Naturally, one might think Group Rides exist as a strategy to survive and protect one another….but from what? In a world where the possibility of Swiss Chalet doorstep delivery is only limited by soggy french fries, where domestic Brita filters provide for hypochondriacs what our municipal taxes already do , and where, for an unbelievably modest price (and thanks to the system of capital in place which ensures the subordination and degradation of large parts of the human population) one can purchase anything from frozen breakfast sandwiches to faux gold jewellery under the same roof, what threats exist against survival that necessitate Group Rides or pack behavior? The answer that all researchers have hereto failed to identify is precisely that there is no answer. Group Rides exist for no justifiable reason. At least, no reason that seems justifiable to us or our lonely red fox friends.
When a red fox curiously watches a wave of grown men in spandex ride past him, he or she asks himself two questions. First, “what the f#ck are they wearing!?”. And second, “if this pack behaviour doesn’t exist as a necessity of survival, why does it exist at all?”. While no satisfactory answer can be given for the former, the latter is answered by our enemy’s self-esteem. Group Rides exist as a necessity to ensure the survival and protection of the xc warriors’ mental well-being. Their ego, self-esteem, self-worth, indeed, self-image could all be compromised if Group Rides were undermined.
If our enemy was forced to rely on their individuality they would be reduced to a human individual. Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Wrong! This is unacceptable to our enemy for two distinct reasons: First, as xc riders well appreciate, human individuals are susceptible to failure and mistake. Second, and most importantly, human individuals derive internal enjoyment from their own actions, which do not depend on external processes.
Lets take a look at how this all plays out…
On sunny and calm afternoon, Reinhold and, his buddy, Theodore find themselves sailing through a winding trail section. Smiles abound as they leisurely progress through the course and share stories from their day. Now, as any reasonable Hydrocut enthusiast will acknowledge, enjoying the trails at your own pace is a tremendous risk not to mention the exchange of casual dialogue. But Reinhold and Theodore are naïve and I digress.
Suddenly, they hear it. The impending force coming towards them. The air stands still. The forest vacates. Bright colored entities can be made out here…then there…now over there. Gears adjust, chains bang. Closer and closer until the figures are discernible. Now, coming towards the two friends is a train of fury, sweat, and clamour. Spandex as far as the eye can see. A pack of clones. Super soldiers, in super armour. Usually command from the xc alpha is unnecessary, their presence alone implies an obvious reaction: get the f#ck out of the way! Our two friends react accordingly.
Admittedly, though rare, enemy groups will approach us in a reasonable manner and notify us of their imminence; asking for a pass. This is acceptable. Everyone rides at different speeds and, because there is no prescribed speed for a trail, there can be no slow or fast rider. Just some who are slower than others, some who are faster than others. But, our enemy has no time for lessons in philosophy and analytics. To the enemy group, there are only two types of riders…and you are the slow ones. So, while an xc rider sometimes has the respect and courtesy to ask for a pass, they often expect the proper reaction with haste. After all, they’re in a group and you are not.
Even the red fox knows the power of numbers. After all, there canid friends employ that power every day of their lives. They use it for survival. Our enemy, for a different kind of survival. For a life in a group is an easier life. Ask yourself the earnest question: if you could hire a group of clones to follow you around the trail, wouldn’t you? Yes, you would. Don’t worry about the price. All the services are included. They’ll commend you on your maneuvers, compliment you on you on your components, concur with your opinions and vindicate your complaints about the conditions of the trail. It’s a wonderful world!
Failure and mistake are non-existent in a Group Ride. This is because the truth is constituted in group opinion. And group opinion is the opinion of each clone. Its always unanimous. Its like that movie, Multiplicity, only if they were all Batmans. Alright, maybe its not like that at all…I forgot where I was going with this…oh yeah….You see if Reinhold and his friend Theodore were cruising through the bush and Reinhold slipped on a rock bruising his shin and his ego a bit he might look for some support from his friend and he would get some but it would not be absolute, “oh, tough go Reiny. You okay? That rock is a bastard. I always focus on bringing my front wheel way up on that. Want to try it again?”. Not so with our enemy hordes. If a Group Rider were to slip on a rock, the response is automatic and unanimous: the rock is illegitimate and should be removed from the trails. The victim need simply look back at his group with a surprised expression and wait for their reply “oh, that rock is bullsh#t. There’s no need for a rock like that in these woods. Everyone agrees. That didn’t count.”. As described in his notes, Theodore himself has been forced to fake the same bail as his Group in order to vindicate the first victim. When everyone falls, no one really falls.
Lastly, but most importantly, Group Rides provide external processes for enjoyment. Our enemy need never rely on their own internal actions for enjoyment. Enjoyment is regulated and delivered by the Group as a whole. This is difficult for many to understand because they regard trail riding precisely as enjoyment for its own sake. No time need be kept. No audience need observe. No comrade need smack your ass at the finish line. Its just good old fun. But, this is both an insufficient and unnecessary condition in the xc rider’s chain of causation. One man and his bike do not deliver enjoyment. One man, his bike, and a horde of approving fans do though. Our enemy enjoys himself only when the Group enjoys themselves or only when the Group allows him to enjoy himself. This is why it is always necessary to record your times when not riding in a Group. Our enemy’s time is expected to be published immediately after his ride for Group approval. If he’s lucky, the Group will approve and allow his enjoyment: our enemy can relax with a low carb beverage and a gluten free treat…but only one, fatty! When in a Group Ride, this procedure becomes less essential, as others are present and, due to the unanimity within the group (see above), every ride is a great ride. If its not a great ride, it’s a great ride considering the horrid conditions. Therefore, enjoyment is always implied by a Group Ride.
Of course, there are other mechanisms at play in a Group Ride that ensure the survival and protection of our enemy’s mental well-being. The most obvious example is intimidation and, like our red fox friend appreciates, power in numbers. While it may be possible to protect yourself from the gaze or stare down (editors’ note: see Theodore’s excellent article from June 2012) of one lycra loner. And while you may feel confident passing one spandex soldier. Ask yourself whether you have the power to do either in the face of an enemy horde. If you do, you just may be the chosen one.
Part 3 of our Legends of Lycra series is already in the works so keep checking back to TWH. The series continues to look at the cornerstones of the xc universe, this time focusing on the absolutely fundamental, unquestionably essential, conclusively constructive, and undeniably attractive phenomena of performance eyewear. Yeah…maybe the buildup was a bit unwarranted but, trust me, these things are cool…I’ve heard they’re like the Terminator’s eye vision except for the weapons and stuff. And there’s a long standing theory that some models allow you to see the green rain code like Neo. Just another reason to stay safe out there, comrades! Till next time.