The problem with a black keyboard, such as the one I am pounding away on now, is you really can’t hide just how unhygienic it is to eat your sandwich whilst typing.
There’s enough in there to feed a family of pygmies for a whole week.
Like Mark, suffering from creative cramp of late, I am determined to scribe something for the blog as Matt continues to be the main contributor. My daughter thinks he must be very popular as his mug appears on the homepage far more than any of the other Moles. (by the way Matt, please sort out Lee’s avatar-you’re not doing the lad any favours!).
So, inspired to write but feeling the pressure to at least generate something, there are two topics that sprung to mind after the Wed night ride.
1. Steel is Real
Once Dave P had left the ride at an early stage – Wednesday night at The Bell must be a good ‘un – there were six of us left to trawl through the gloop. Other than our hobby, the other less obvious thing binding us together was the lack of ally-framed bikes between us.
Not earth-shattering I know but you gotta ask why? Have we all rebelled against the industry that tries to convince us that hydroforming alloy into ‘interesting shapes’ is the answer to the world’s (and MTB’s) problems?
Not really. Its much simpler. Some of us also own alloy framed hardtails or have done previously. Its just down to ride quality, feel and feedback. Straight tubing, or even slightly curved steel tubes may not look sexy but for a hardtail, steel seems to work soooo well, especially with the riding we do.
2. Weight Saving
This is something I have never been able to get too excited about in MTB or motorcycling.
Whilst I can see the obvious benefits from not using a 40lb bike for XC work or saving unsprung weight (the weight involved directly in movement of the suspension), I firmly believe there are limitations as to how much the OCD-like infatuation with weight saving helps us in the real world. Particularly if you are a weekend warrior.
So, should I cripple myself to save a massive 15g off ‘yesterdays’ Maxle bolt-through to get the 2009 version? Should I replace all the cap head screws on my brake calipers to save 6g ?
No. I should get off my arse and ride more.
And when I do, I should ride harder, with my ever-so-slightly heavier bike. If I’m able to keep the pace with a heavier bike, then I’m fitter and stronger than I would be with a bike that weighs 1kg less. If you try buying running gear for your bike to save even half a kg over its current level you’ll spend a fortune.
In fact, if I was an XC racer (and I certainly AM NOT), I would deliberately make my bike heavier for all training but remove the ballast weight for race day. That’s the only time I see weight saving as offering a meaningful payback.
There’s a parallel here to many other aspects of the consumerism of the last 20 years. There are now many many new services and products that quite frankly we don’t need. But because we’ve either got too much cash, or have decided to ramp up our mortgages to fuel our spending, we have been indulging too much. In line with our paranoia regarding weight saving, I think this applies in mountain biking too.
Perhaps the recession will do the world a favour, ridding us of some of the crap that fills our lives, thus emptying our wallets and diverting our attention from what really matters. Who knows, in 5 years time, we’ll all be riding average bikes because we’ve realised that unless you compete, it really doesn’t matter significantly what you ride if you are a) skilled and b) fit.
Stick Julien Absalon or Steve Peat on a Raleigh Chopper to ride our trails and you’ll see what I mean.
There-got that off my chest. A bit Victor Meldrew-esque and a lot of generalising I know, and sorry to sound like some activist, but I’m becoming increasingly irked at the volume of brainwashing and crap we have to deal with.