Interesting question isn’t it?
First posed by one of the greatest actors of the last 100 years to one of the greatest Aliens to ever fuck up the planet (SO based on a true story), which given the circumstances was a very fair question to ask:
So, what the hell am I talking about? Well, it occurred to me recently again that cycling is an interesting sport, both in terms of it allowing individuals to blend in under a different identity from their day to day life, but also being one made up of a whole range of various subcultures.
Whilst its impossible to cover the whole range of these in one post (you’d fall asleep reading it), I did feel oddly motivated in my gimp state to reflect on the major herds roaming the plains of the cycling world, oh yeah, feels SO good to get your stereotype on, basically why the Internet was invented. Lets get busy on it:
The ROAD Warrior
Said in capitals because that’s who the FUCK you are, through and through. Its all you know. Most likely you only own ONE bike and its of the Road variety. Whilst there are many different sub species in the road world, for the most part you care less about kit than you do miles and chances are you switched a long time ago to Ultegra cassettes as you wear through them every 4 or 5 months and the cost of replacing a DA one was getting too high. You actually feel anxiety when the sock length debate comes up and Its about mileage and preferably racing, with a constant pang that you wish it could be PRO.
Chances are you’re highly allergic to mud, dirt or anything that doesn’t resemble tarmac. The rare exception is Cyclocross, which you’ve tried as a ‘phase’ (only did it a couple of times at Uni probably) and only because you read in PRO Cycling mag that some Euro PRO’s do it in the off season. Whilst you may find it acceptable for mud to be on a bike after a Spring Classic, the concept of Mountain Biking is inherently disgusting to you, which you view as a Nouveau riche form of cycling that has suddenly popped up wearing a black turtleneck and distracting people from the real form of riding on the ROAD.
Its possible some of your brethren have dabbled in Mountain Biking and whilst you smiled at them as you choked on your Espresso, inside you hated them and couldn’t wait to get home to spend the afternoon attending to your sock organising and bike cleaning OCD, whilst working out all the reasons you don’t want a fucking bar of disc brakes on Road bikes, fuck you very much. May even re-glue some Tubs while watching a Bernard Hinault DVD.
Upsides are you’re extremely fit, go up hills quite well, know how to race a crit (not sure that’s actually an upside) and can navigate Europe blindfolded as you sat and watched Cuntstrong Faux win the Tour 7 times (you DID cheer him on when he attacked on Alpe d’Huez), so got to know the French roads quite well. I’m not hating, don’t get me wrong and a lot of days I resemble a full roadie myself, but when I look through the ranks, the quintessential example for me is the Turbo Diesel Engine, seen here in black kit haunting yet another poor competitor, not to mention clearly in the act of breaking more bike parts:
Life started out easy and simple… You had your Giant/Specialized/Avanti Mountain Bike and shit was sweet as bro. Rock up to the trail, shred that shit rain or shine and then get home to read Mountain Bike Action or try and find the results to the Grundig World Cup round. It was like being raised by wolves and you relished in the the savagery of it. Then one day you went to a Mountain Bike race and got your ass kicked. You pondered for a long time why and what happened, then someone whispered those fateful words to you:
“You need to do some road training dude”
You brought the cheapest road bike you could find, whacked on your MTB pedals and refusing to shave your legs, started to hit the road when you thought no one would see you and especially when your mud buddies wouldn’t find out. Then one day you were time rammed, felt sick of mud for a Saturday and found yourself exchanging an MTB ride for a Road ride. You felt disgusted and ashamed with yourself, but you promised it wouldn’t happen again. You tried to fight it, but then you made a friend… It felt wrong, you tried to hate your new road buddy, but your fitness felt better, you were climbing well and it was nice to get home and just hang up the bike… Like Tarzan, you also felt like you were becoming slightly more cultured as well. You said cunt a lot less, and you finished your rides with a ‘latte’ as opposed to a beer. What was going on?
One day, people stopped texting you for an MTB ride, which suited you ok as the weekends were now the most stressful time of the week due to your cycling adultery. Did you head out with the Road group for the Saturday 100km ride (fuck it felt so good to see that uploaded in Strava didn’t it?) or hit it with the Dirt crew for some faffing and shredding? It was too much to manage, so sometimes you would lie to either group: “Yeah bro, blew the cunting fork seals, so the MTB is in the shop” or “Hi chaps, getting my free hub sorted on the Ksyriums, so sorry, can’t make the ride“. Eventually you found it was 10 road rides to every MTB ride and you could no longer understand the new Fox fork range, but knew 75% of the names of the PRO Road Peloton, even able to pronounce them with correct Euro accents.
However, much like Tarzan, you felt at odds with the Hierarchy and rules of your new world… You longed to be back being raised by Apes/Wolves and so occasionally you would relapse and binge on Dirt, rock and shredding. Waking up in an orgy of muddy gear and bikes. You giggled in the shower about how good it felt, but you swore not to tell anyone at post ride coffee next time you were sitting around comparing power numbers. They wouldn’t understand and would only judge you…
If you let the Dirt back in, suddenly you find you’re good at both, but never great at either one… Compromised if you will. You may wake up and realise that climbing hills at 13.5kph is no longer for you, or you may continue to try and bridge both worlds, but like trying to parent two starving children that live at opposite ends of a city, its hard to look after both in an appropriate manner. Its a conundrum that is hard to manage, you love both, but get confused as to what to do. Alas still no cure exists, but don’t worry, you’re not alone in your split personality, bastard child cycling world.
Some would tell you that Cadel Evans is perhaps one of the most famous Moadies around, sure, he did win the MTB World Cup a few times and the Tour de France, but he is overshadowed by a monolithic presence in the Moadie herd, thats right – The Welsh Assassin. Starting out life as the Welsh Junior MTB National Champion and ending up Singapore National Road Champion, his prolific chain snapping style transitioned smoothly to the road in the same manner an Onsen cloth feels oddly good brushing across your balls (allegedly):
The Dirt Merchant
Oh yeah… Dirt is your business and business is BANGIN yo! You’ve heard of a whole lot of oddly named cunts that like to juice up and eat lettuce in order to win races you couldn’t give a fuck about, but about the closest you get to a Road Bike is when you are forced to walk past one in the shop when you’re getting a new rear Minion tire as you’ve started ripping knobs off the third one that summer. Fucking A bro, you’re a Mountain Biking motherfucker through and through. You’ve seen ALL the Collective DVD’s and in some cases, can ride a bit like that as well.
There are too many species of Mountain Bikers to list, that would require a PHD like study and I don’t have the attention span for it to be honest, plus doing so would make most people tune out and go back to googling for Kim Kardashians ass, so I shall refrain. However, whether you’re an underseat pack, Specialized riding, lycra clad XC Bandit or a Giant Reign shredding, singlet wearing dude called Dylan, the commonality is simple and global: Its off road only.
If you want to get fit, you go out and ride the pivot bearings out of your Reign. The only time you use the word ‘Roadie’ is when you’re calling the up the crew to give them a heads up to load the bikes into the truck to head out of town for a few days. You can quickly adapt your style to any form of dirt, mud, rock or terrain and most likely know the exact date of the opening day at Whistler.
You can always tell the dudes that JUST Mountain Bike only, as in, thats the only bike they own. They really know how to ride, as opposed to being a Moadie where you some times just get lucky with your off road form. Yip, the Dirt Merchant just gets down to business and shreds it up with an ease that makes you instantly feel the pang of dirty inferiority.
Like turning up to ride with a Roadie when you’re not in peak fitness, your ability to keep up with a Dirt Merchant when shit gets real is like trying to do brain surgery on your buddy when you’re drunk… Seemed like a good idea, but ultimately its not going to end well. I remember getting a quintessential lesson in this in May 2013 when we rocked up to the TP Tour, with guides and other guys that mountain bike close to every day, getting ‘schooled’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. They were so cool about it too that I didn’t even feel confident enough to take a staged photo:
There is also one slightly weird and rare group that I won’t dive into… The Roadie that dabbles in Mountain Biking. Not to be confused with a Moadie, no sir. Whilst Moadies start life learning bike handling skills, the Roadie that attempts a bit of MTB Racing because they can’t get enough action on the road is a different beast. Awful lines, lots of crashes and a general mindset that its just like road riding but with a bit of mud consign this species to a very awkward place in the cycling world. You may see them from time to time, seat height very high, possibly wearing road kit and usually with bandages on. Try and avoid, lest you be sucked into hour long ‘skills clinics’ trying to help them – A task which is not unlike pouring cement into the Pacific ocean in the hope a bridge will suddenly appear.
What’s my point with all this? Well, aside from the fact I don’t have much else to write about (and wanted to test the new subscribers e-mail), it did occur to me that its important to embrace what you are and become the master of it. Yes, I know variety is the spice of life etc, but ultimately are you missing out on what evokes the most passion in you due to circumstance? I realise that I have become a full Moadie over the last few years, but with the recent accident and then the big goal for 2015, I taste a delicious relief that I’m going to be returning to my cycling roots next year. Will I still ride the road bike? Its inevitable and I will still enjoy it, but reprioritising cycling life to the Dirt will be a welcome change.
So then, what the hell are you?