Let me take you back to a formal ball in 18th century Vienna. The ladies in attendance, stunning in their elaborate dresses, are each carrying a luxuriously decorated note book around the ballroom. Inside their notebooks are the premeditated arrangements of their dances for the evening detailing, among other things, the male acquaintances with whom they intend to spend each dance with. And so it goes for the rest of the evening, with each women dutifully consulting her dance card and fulfilling its commands.
This, comrades, is the dance card. And though you might not be dancing with Dukes, Barons, and Beuracracts in a 100-pound velvet dress with no moisture wicking abilities on a hot Vienna night, the dance card still applies.
Every rider should have a dance card. You don’t have to tape a list to your handle bar. You don’t have to write a blog about it. And you definitely don’t have to remind everyone else about it by screaming for a pass on your time trial missions, complaining about trail conditions, or wearing superhero costumes on your recreational rides. But you should be aware of it.
The dance card is your personal wishlist of skills you want in your quiver. Skills you want to have dialed in, locked down, and pre-weaponized for mass destruction. Bunny hopping that root, conquering that unshapely rock, wheeling through a bridge, or just getting through that gnarly section with your dignity intact. Anything goes.
Now the Viennese women were a obedient bunch. And you should be too. They had their cards memorized, their dances planned, and they would be sure to strike off their acquaintances after each successful dance. This was a gratifying moment for them. Enjoying their dance with the Duke, striking a line through his name when finished, and moving onto to another. Some would call these women liberal or slattern or…you get the idea. But trust me, comrades, these women had their dignity. It was not about promiscuity, it was about progression.
But first you have to have a dance card. What are you waiting for? Its easy. Mine is to obliterate the reign of the spandex soldiers. But yours doesn’t have to be so ambitious. And once you have your dance card…its time to start striking out items. Figuratively, of course. Unless you took my advice about taping a list to your handlebar seriously. In which case, I recommend weather resistant paper.
Start small and work upwards. Just like the nervous Viennese woman who most finally confront the most handsome and affluent of her acuqntences that evening, you will eventually have to encounter that ominous item on your list. But you should throw in some easy ones to stoke the fire.
Go to it then, comrades! Grab your dances cards and start dancing. The end of the season is near and that sketchy looking rock has been waiting patiently for its dance all this time.
Hey, the worst that can happen is you get a debilitating back injury, preventing you from returning to work, while you spend the rest of your life receiving government disability cheques in a haze of depression and alcoholism. That, or…you scuff your shin and have to try it again.