|The Flip Side of the Coin: A Tale of Two Wheels||Aug 6, ’07 11:14 AM
The Flip Side of the Coin: A Tale of Two Wheels
It was one of those days. You know, when you just have sooo much to do, are swamped with deadlines, barraged by phone calls, plagued with pending matters. And then you end up being too overwhelmed to accomplish anything. Aarrghh. Just as I was staring blankly at my computer, my good friend and training companion sent me an SMS, at 9pm, to be exact. The message read: “Hey, you wanna go mountain biking early tomorrow?” I read it one more time just to be certain. After which I blinked, and without knowing the details, replied, “Sure!”
The thing is, we weren’t even mountain bikers, nor did we own mountain bikes. We knew how to bike, yes, but we were roadies. For the sake of those who can’t distinguish one from the other, roadies only cycle on paved road (asphalt and cement), and mountain bikers ride on all sorts of rough terrain. Huge difference. In terms of bike frame type, wheels, the presence/ non-presence of shocks, apparel choices (earth-toned versus screamingly vibrant jerseys) among other things.
But I had great trust in my friend and knew that she could pull this one off and that we would be able to borrow two complete sets of gear and equipment just in time for that group trail ride. So there I was, up at 4am, having resolved to ditch work the night before, with just about two and a half hours of zzz’s. Such are my decision-making skills sometimes—not exemplary, really.
To my defense, in my experience, behind every crazy plan lies an equally inspired and wonderful opportunity to have fun, and this simple formula of mine may not be risk-free, but 99% of the time, it works out, and I end up having a blast. And it was tricky at first, what with me tensing up on the brakes and falling, and my friend squealing when we passed a slippery path and each time we had to go over complex single track trails. By the end of the ride though, even if we were both definitely still amateurs, we got the hang of it and I honestly couldn’t believe that I had waited that long to get on that mountain bike trail. It was like learning to ride again for the very first time—I felt like a kid. Rolling through yellow green cornfields and red earth under the clear blue sky drastically changes ones’ state of mind, and mine was a far cry from the frazzled shape it was in just a few hours back.
A typical roadie group ride for me nowadays is more of the controlled kind—we have our set speeds, cadence, and routes. We time everything, we are aware of our caloric and fluid intake, our wattage, our heart rates, and when we are done all is nice and neat and mud-free. Nothing wrong with that, and the truth is, I can’t deny that I do love speed, I love riding in the peloton (a big group of cyclists), and I love the sound of carbon wheels zipping by smoothly. That is who I am, and part of what makes me happy, and I wouldn’t know what to do if someone stole my road bike from me (oh, hello, someone actually did, but I digress).
For once, however, it was so refreshing to see how “the other side” does it. Yup, you read it right—a lot of you may not be aware of it, but mountain bikers and road bikers come from two different cultures, and in a lot of cases do not even like each other. For example, I’m the type of cyclist who normally says hi to other riders, but (and am not proud of this) if a fellow on a mountain bike passes by, I do tend to ignore him and if I don’t, I am not as enthusiastic in my greeting. And it’s not only me, that’s just how everyone else behaves. Why? I don’t know.
Maybe it comes from not knowing enough about the other. To everyone else who isn’t really into cycling, it seems like a cyclist is a cyclist is a cyclist. Right? Am afraid not. People judge one another. Because of hairstyle, skin color, fashion sense, and other petty things—in our case, it’s the choice of ride. It really does sound strange and inappropriate, written clearly like that. Your wheels define your personality type, and therefore you are automatically boxed into a certain category.
I think all this is but an extremely minute sample of how we earth-dwellers should learn to co-exist and respect one another. If BMX bikers, mountain bikers, and road bikers, can learn to share their love of two wheels together, they can learn to play together. In the recent ESPY Awards, the Peace Players International, whose advocacy is to eliminate the warring Protestants and Catholics in the UK, stated that if people can learn to play together, they can learn to live together. And they use sports activities as a vehicle to encourage the two sides to interact. It appears to be very simplistic, but on a grander scale, applied to states, nations, and continents, you can see that it does have its place in paving the way for reconciliation.
As for me and my friend, we’re just gonna hop on our rides, let our hair fly freely, hang with our new-found bike buddies, and keep exploring new terrain. Because so far, we like the view on the other side too. Peace, man.
*Thanks to Anthony and Tony of Kanin Club in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, Poch, and their very accommodating mountain biking group for taking Pia and I in so readily.