DEAD CAMEL DEAD CAMEL DEAD CAMEL DEAD CAMEL BEND. 9:40.
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.
Ever get that comforting feeling deep into your ride? You know the one…
Your flowing through smooth paths, taking in the air, enjoying the sunshine that slips through the trees. You are in flux. And you’re happy and content. Life is good. Out here huffing and puffing and getting dialled in the good bush, on the good earth. Stoke is high. That bike is feeling like an extension of your own body. Confidence grows. Sure, your working life may be a depressing and monotonous hell. You might wonder if you are living a crude existence until relief in the afterlife or if, in some twisted joke by the maker, this is your hell already. But right now, you’re in the trails. And it is good! No rules out here. No deadlines. No performance evaluations. No clients. No customers. Just you, kilometres of single track, and an odd two-wheeled contraption between your legs. Proceed, good sir. Proceed.
…But proceed with caution! [Cue evil laugh] Hahahahahaha! Only fools would believe the preceding words. Indeed, it was a test. And you probably failed. The trails are not a natural mecca to be navigated through and enjoyed. They are not a place of refuge from your working life. They are your working life! This is the cruelest of all life’s jokes. “That comforting feeling deep into your ride” does not exist. Even in the trails, there is no time for pleasures or joy. Deviants will be prosecuted and discriminated against.
Yes. The trails are for time trial missions only. Smiles and pleasure merely add precious seconds to your time. So please refrain. Plebeians caught interfering with the smooth flow of the time trial masters will be shown no mercy. Father time wants your ass off the trail…now!
Um, can we not all agree that some appreciation of your gear is required? Sure, if your riding training wheels to the top of your driveway and back trying to hit that sweet jump you and your friends made, then go all out. But when your trekking in the wilderness, whether it’s a 5hr drive from the city followed by short 300ft vertical climb to the trail head or whether it’s a small bush behind a Walmart and a municipal dump, there’s got to be some standards.
Of course, as a TWH Blog comrade, I could never endorse the elitism of lycra warriors. This is why I don’t require you to be able to dissemble and reassemble your bike in less than 30 minutes, or be able to fix a broken chain in the dark while a pack of desperate wolves circle you. It’s also why I don’t require you to know the innate details of every component of your bike or have a stock pile of criticisms to throw at other riders and their inferior equipment. And, yes, its why I could never endorse (and actively dissuade you from) wearing tight lycra. Its not necessarily the lyra, its what it leads to. Like gateway drugs. But anyway…
You must at least know what kind of valves your running and how to pump up a tire.
This is basic stuff people. Who doesn’t pump up their own tires? No one. Well, I don’t, because I have an army of comrade slaves that keep Theo and my bikes in good working order. But, most people do it themselves.
And when you find yourself deep in the trails with a 10k bike and a team jersey on asking some other guy for a pump you better know what kind of valve your running. Now, if your wearing jeans sans helmet with a 20 year old Raleigh, no ones expects anything of you. Proceed as you will. But if you look like Captain America, you better act like him. Know your shit.
True story. I happened upon a rider in need of a pump and gladly handed him mine, “It’s for Presta though, cool?” I say casually as I handed it to him, “Yeah, yeah” he responded. A couple minutes pass as this guy huffs and puffs his way through the short stroke pumps while struggling to keep the pump on his valve. Wearing the costume of the enemy, I decide to just defer to his authority and not anger the enemy hordes. Then we reach the 5 minute mark and I begin to worry. Mini pumps take a while, but not this long. And the pump should easily stay secured on the valve, but not need constant readjustment and handling. I clue in. This guy has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. “Hey, are you sure it’s a Presta?” I ask this time with a little more focus. “Presta!? I don’t know. What’s that?”…
…Okay, now its my fault for not being diligent enough in the first place. But I realize a few things immediately: 1. This guy is cluelessness and I’ve been watching him falter meaninglessly for the last 10 minutes, 2. Based on realization #1, I’ve now wasted my time lending this guy a pump that won’t work for him, and 3. My pump has now endured the unwarranted abuse of being forced again and again on a Schrader valve. Fuck me, right? Unsavoury realizations as they are, they’re not that bad. So, I politely inform him my pump won’t work and he returns it back to me, suffering and wounded. I apologize for the confusion. He’s still confused.
So, what can you learn from this? Don’t trust anyone. This is learned early in life when that beautiful girl in elementary school you thought liked you was only using you for your skittles. It’s tough. But, more importantly, while you should not assume everyone is a senior mechanic , you should expect that they have an appreciation of their own gear.
And if they don’t…well, they’ve let you down like little Carly-Sue and her merciless pursuit of skittles, no matter how many hearts she breaks. One day, Carly-Sue, one day!
Now to lick my wounds…and have my comrade slaves find me a new pump,
This weekend TWH comrades will be infiltrating the hydros. Enemies take note. If you see someone enjoying himself and greeting other riders, that’s probably one of us. Or it could just be a really nice guy. Fair warning to the latex lovers: relax your time trial missions and try to have fun or face the wrath of our guerilla campaign. What does that campaign involve? Oh nothing much. Just the full onslaught of friendliness and comradery. Unstoppable, apocalyptic winds of courtesy. The eternal malice of enjoyment. A chaotic fury of altruism. All powered by the fundamentalist, radical belief that sometimes trail riding is just supposed to be fun. Blasphemy, you say!? Heresy, you cry!? Oh yeah boys, its on.
Turning your f$cking hide,
Reinhold, Theodore, and the comrades at arms
Filming most of my rides would be an exhausting activity. I can anticipate this. Hitting the record button has the tendency to take one from a solitary recreational rider to a Red-Bull sponsored international superstar. I begin looking to hit obstacles I’ve never had the desire to hit, “maybe I COULD do a 3 over that stump…”. My pace, regardless of how well I’ve progressed, is totally unacceptable, “Stinky Girl in 7 MINUTES! Come on, man! That’s terrible.” Anything else but me becomes the culprit, “This dam trail is not designed properly. This dam derailleur can’t handle me. And this bike is soooo heavy”. All for the sake of my video, which must be flawless. Who cares if you blow a knee dropping that gap when you might get video part of the year. Red-bull will pick up the recovery tab. I’ll just do interviews and focus on designing my pro gear for a while, right?
Once that record button goes, you are on exhibition. And that exhibition can be eternal. Downloaded, saved, and cemented in time until hell freezes over (or, until I really do get signed by Red-Bull). It’s there. Sure, you can edit exponentially. Delete that part where you fell trying to get out of your pedals. Skip over that one difficult section of Kamikaze, everyone does anyway. But, this is exhausting too. Witnessing the true face of my riding, I would spend days in the editing room trying to make myself look like a god. Editing programs these days are so sophisticated this just may be possible but I would probably have to slice the video down to 30 seconds. The whole video would be me gearing up with a serious look on my face and nodding my head confidently as I put on my gloves, Red-Bull credits run over the screen as it fades out. The rest (i.e. my actual riding) would compromise that introduction.
What’s the alternative? Do nothing and let the video and my riding speak for itself. That takes some bravery especially if you’re going to broadcast it online. Exposing oneself to the harsh comments of anonymous internet identities (Theodore and I are real guys, though. Seriously. We live on Glasgow St. and go to Boston Pizza every Wednesday) is a risky business.
But a lot of riders are prepared for it. And the important question becomes: is one camera ever enough? The obvious answer is no. And so TWH presents to you our collection of insane helmet cam setups….
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… Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I present our first examples in what will constitute our only entrance exam for membership. It is meant to be an elementary test. If you see nothing wrong here, simply close your internet browser and never return to this blog again. After all, subsequent content will either offend or be entirely lost on you. If, on the other hand, one of these examples invokes a tolerable (even arousing) reaction while the other certainly does not, your on the right path. I will leave it to you to decide which one should invoke which response.
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