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November 2014

The best seventy seconds are spent doing skids

This morning we watched this hilarious video.

The subject is aerodynamics and its effect on the wearer of baggy shorts.

These guys have access to a wind tunnel. Apparently, their research shows that flappy pants will slow you down by seventy seconds over twenty kilometres.

We would argue that anybody who is concerned about seventy seconds in a twenty kilometre mountain bike ride isn't doing it correctly.

If the seventy seconds you are saving by wearing lycra is important, you will never stop to talk to anybody. Nzo’s research reveals that 23.5% of the real value in a mountain bike ride is the wisdom received from the clowns you ride with. A good chunk of the remainder comes from the people met by chance. Most of the people we ride with can not ride fast and talk sensibly at the same time. Stopping for a yak takes time, riding slow enough to say anything meaningful: likewise.

How about eating something other than dirt or bugs? A mountain biker who can eat without stopping is a mountain biker who is not actually mountain biking. Or eating, in any enjoyable sense of the word.

Then there are the views. Even if you ride by yourself, you can validate your activity by stopping in a picturesque setting, propping your bike in the centre of it, capturing the moment on a handheld digital device and uploading it to your social medium of choice. Further research reveals that is not, strictly speaking, a ‘selfie’. But it does say to the world, or at least your ‘friends’, that you are living the dream.

Seventy seconds over twenty kilometres. That is nearly six minutes over 100kms, or 3.5 years over the rest of your life, should you be so lucky.

All these arguments are moot, of course, if you are racing. Seventy seconds is a lot in a race.

But by turning up to race in baggy shorts, you are sending several messages. Firstly, you can spot anybody on the startline three and a half seconds a kilometre and still kick their butt. Secondly, you don’t care about results, check out the wind-resistance of these pants.

And thirdly, even though there is a number on your bars, you plan to have a chat with each marshall, chew your muesli bars thoroughly, with your mouth closed, and take ironic photos of your bike in various places on the race course.

We don’t have hard data, but we are not even sure whether racing a lot is good for you, long term.
Racing could shorten your life by seventy seconds every time you do it, who knows?


It will be nice in the trees


All the way home from the forest the other night I was hoping, more than usual, not to be stopped by a policeman.

Pants too long to be worn without shoes, and no shoes. Too dark and cold to be naked from the waist up, and no shirt. And as a final potential issue should the aforementioned seem worthy of an arrest, and they make me take my pants off, no undies. I have no idea if they do stuff like that here, but it happens in the movies. And I wasn't thinking straight due to imminent hypothermia.

We have discussed the optimism involved in deciding if the weather will work for a bike ride.

The other thing that was working on me yesterday was the “gunner” effect.

Days or even weeks may pass with no bike action, and that can be acceptable if it means a living can be made or a bone healed. But if an agreement is made with one’s self that a bike ride will happen, and it doesn't, there is a feeling of being cheated. We are gunner go for a ride, promise. Oh, now we can’t. Sorry doesn't really cover it.

Yesterday morning was pretty nice. Birds having baths, bees flying around, flowers enjoying the sunshine. Until just after lunch. Then some big cloud development, and a decent dump of hail, with some rain for punctuation. Then a tentative clearance.

I had cut a deal with myself to get out for a skid, so when the orders were packed and delivered to the courier I headed to the woods. I should have taken note of the size of the puddles at the carpark, but the sky looked fairly light so instead I got into my Dobies and Aircon and hoped it would be warmer in the trees. The gunner effect in action.

Not really warmer, but certainly wetter. Still, not too bad.

Thinking that high might equal dry, I headed up the self-explanatory Hill Rd. That involves a quarter of an hour of looking mainly down, at the front wheel. At about the same time as I looked around and noted the general darkness of the sky there was clap of thunder and it started to rain.

Still hopeful that it might be some kind of sun/thunder shower, without sun just for this bit, I soldiered on to my objective, the generally weather proof trail called Hot X Buns.

It wasn’t. It was more of a freezing cold deluge that also had mist which was possibly cloud at the top of Hot X, and dropped the ambient light by about half.

I got back to the van completely soaked, and so cold it made more sense to get the engine started and the heater on full blast immediately, and horse around with stuff like getting clean and dressed at the other end of the trip home.

So, everything off and into a muddy pile on the tarp in the van, jeans on, beeline home.

And yet: Hot X Buns and Dragons Tail to follow were so much fun the whole episode still gets about 8 out of 10.


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