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Part II, a neophyte crosser's life: the mtn bike ride(2 posts)

Part II, a neophyte crosser's life: the mtn bike rideMarlon
Sep 22, 2001 8:12 PM
Here we go - I'll try and post some amusing stories of my adventures in 'crossing. Hopefully, some other newbies will take heart and get into it.

The Mtn Bike Ride:
It had only been two weeks since I had ridden my built-up cross bike for the first time, and I was starting to get the hang of this whole murderously insane sport of cyclocross. I still couldn't get over the novelty: the spandex and bikes of roadies combined with the mud and crud of mountain biking, all mixed in (usually) with a whomping of the sorriest, wettest weather that would make even a fish feel a little waterlogged. When I started seriously thinking about it at the end of the summer, I thought: "This is a sport I could love!"

Most people thought I was insane and told me so. I just smiled and showed them the dent in my head where my mom dropped me as a kid.

In any case, I now had my cross bike for 2 weeks, and I was loving it. True, I still had issues running with my bike up any hill longer than 50 yards, and while my dismounts were quite impressive, my remounts were... well, they looked like they had more in common with some sort of crazy Rube Goldberg machine with wildly flailing legs, one that periodically emmitted various four-letter curses in response to my attempts to not let my privy parts come in first contact with the saddle. But, like I said, I loved it.

That's when I decided to go on a little singletrack exercise with the boys and girls of my cycling club. As the club and my poor humble self are based in Vancouver, most of these folks in the club are experienced North Shore trials riders - in other words, they eat normal singletrack for breakfast. So, this ride was to be, as they put it, "an easy jaunt". Yeah right. I'd had practiced some off-roading on some of the easier trails, but nothing of the likes of what my friends proposed. Still, I said "what the heck" and went off into the wild unknown parts yonder.

Well, to be modest, I survived. But not without some scary bits. A few lessons learned:

1. Cross bikes do not "drop" well. Having your weight somewhat more forward than your typical trials bike, also minus suspension on both front and rear, makes your front end sink like the Titanic when there's nothing solid underneath. Slinging my butt off the saddle over the rear wheel, my crown jewels hanging a few scant inches from irrevocable genetic lossage, helped somewhat, and using this technique I managed to conquer various small (< 3 foot) drops, log stairs, and super-steep little descents, but one last drop too many, and I ended up picking blackberry thorns from my bruised and battered lycra-clad posterior. Singletrack: 1, Marlon: 0.

2. Roots and rocks somewhat parallel to your wheels suck. I did my first year physics in university, and those lessons in momentum certainly came in handy. Rocks? Roots? Logs? No problem - but only when perpendicular to my line of travel. When they're somewhat parallel however... this thing called "deflection" occurs with disastrous results. This is where the little thing that I'd like to refer to as "The Rock Incident" occurred. Zipping down the trail, a fairly flat stretch for once, I sped past those slow phat-tire friends of mine, boosted by my thunderous tree-trunk (ok ok, mid-size sapling) thighs, proud to show 'em that I was a crosser going hard... and that's when The Rock appeared out of nowhere. The front tire slipped hard to the right, angled off into a wild vector to parts unknown, and I briefly joined the Canadian Air Force for all of half a second, before whamming my helmeted head into a large boulder beside the trail. First thought: I'm alive. Second thought: Whoa, my head hurts. Third (reaching up to touch the top of my head): Damn! My Giro Eclipse helmet! Fouth thought: So that's why those mountain bike helmets are cheaper... Singletrack: 2, Marlon: 0.

3. Cross bikes don't "catch air". On most occasions, cross bikes do not fly through the air very gracefully, except for the rare bunny hop. Generally, they fly like brick outhouses - very unaerodynamic ones. But on this ride, I proved them wrong. Enter the Stump Jump near the beach - a little jump where you could get a 3-4 feet of air by going very fast over this cute little tree stump that formed a bumpy little ramp. First try over it, I bailed. Hard. Over the handlebars. Fortunately though, it was on the nearby grass, and I only terrified a bunch of hikers who ran away from my point of impact like a bunch of whipped goats on crack. But the laughs of my compatriots spurred me on, and I sprinted towards the jump one more time, thoughts of Cippolini going through my head. Bump bump, OVER, and it was FLY BABY FLY - followed by my front wheel landing first. Swerve to the left - my front wheel was visibly taco'ing as I desperately fought to regain control, a hugh OOOOOOOOH coming from my watching friends - and swerve to the right, as my spokes somehow held together and popped my wheel back into shape - and WOO HOO, I was back on the straight, pumping my right fist in victory, and I HAD LANDED IT!!! Singletrack: 2, Marlon: 1. I was on the scoreboard!

In the end, it was a good ride. Slightly taco'ed rims, nothing a little wheel-truing session wouldn't cure, quite a few new bruises and scrapes, including one embedded thorn in my butt that I couldn't quite get out, and mucho respect from my mountain biking friends. The coolest thing about riding with them? They see me on my cross bike and go - "Sweet." And to me, that makes cyclocrossing all worth it. Now, does anyone know where I can buy a cheap Eclipse helmet?
re: Part II, a neophyte crosser's life: the mtn bike rideclimbo
Sep 23, 2001 4:35 PM
you're a braver man than I, nice riding!!