Time & Place in Cycling

“I would NEVER run that tyre on the rear,” he said as he balked over the sight of my rear tread. The lecture continued, “The side knobs do not support any aggressive cornering what-so-ever, and they weigh a ton.” The endless list of what was wrong with this single component on my bicycle continued to rattle out from his forum-deranged brain, “and the wire bead, pfft.” Then suddenly, he stopped, wiped his nose with his fluorescent glove, and continued with his gobbledygook as if all knowledge of sidewall protection, rubber compounds and air pressure was condensed in to a ball of disgust, and thrown at my poor rear tyre. And this was only the start — the drivel barometer was barely registering.

“I don’t know why people choose titanium over carbon these days, I mean it seems to be a new craze.” The pressure was rising; the profanity in his remarks was nearly becoming too much, yet there was still more to come. I could see some other heads in the group take notice, sneakily listening to the string of ‘supreme knowledge’ that continued on and on and on (and on) as we span our way up to the top of the bridle path. The hope that it would soon end was finally becoming more and more apparent (and I’m not referring to the climb).

I had barely ridden any of these particular trails, let along had enough time to know what was really coming up after the second or third corner. To say the least it was a fairly technical, especially one to be riding on a hardtail after being on a full suspension for a few seasons. Yet it was still a blast and really enjoyable, plus there is always something really special riding new trails for the first few times. The pressure reading on the barometer was on the decline, but alas, it was not to last.

Suddenly, his tack changed; perhaps it was the wind causing his eyes to water a little or the increased blood flow that caused the alteration to his drivel direction. “Ah, I think my legs are tired from yesterdays ride.” Oh please, hear we go, “And I think that flu I had last week is still hanging around.” The barometer was near breaking point or it had just given up registering; probably the latter.

The ride continued to meander along a stretch of B-road. Then that awful sound. That horrible sound that we all dread. The sound of rushing air and a folding tyre. We slowed; perhaps a few groans could be heard, but nothing out of the ordinary, until he came out with the almost predictable, completely unforgivable and most hateable comment — “Anybody have a spare tube?” The barometer had cracked, mercury was pouring everywhere. Saddlebags were unzipped; duct tape was about to be undone. A kind soul (not me) threw Captain Drivel an inner tube and to my surprise he did produce a pump. The tyre was soon inflated and we were rolling ready to enter the next ribbon of single track.

We can all take a lesson away from Captain Drivel. As informative as he was about rear axle paths and crank length, he taught me something much more. Something that only a true diehard, forum loving, rear tyre hating, inner tube forgetting mountain biker can teach — and that is to realise that you are riding a bike and this is something that we all love and should not forget. Save your complaints for elsewhere, you know where they should/shouldn’t belong so keep them there and don’t let them run rampant on a ride. Think of it as ride etiquette, like carrying a spare tube.

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