How do you rate yourself ?
Finding your place in the pack
We all ride with our buddies right? I mean that’s half the reason why we ride. It’s a better alternative to the sitting around throwing money at beer/wine and pretending we could easily score that hot looking, way younger, sex god/goddess that we think is checking us out but in reality is looking at that huge pimple at the side of your nose that our so called buddies have failed to point out yet.
I digress. So we ride with our mates and that doesn’t often change, we have our riding order, we know who is quickest and on what trail, and our rides go pretty seamlessly apart from the odd misdemeanor. But what happens when you go to a biking metropolis like Rotorua and find yourself getting off the shuttle bus and straight into a wolf pack of very fast and not so fast looking riders and the fear of God hits you when you realize that you have no idea how fast at descending you are compared to all these random strangers and you are about to get yelled at to get out of the way (embarrassing) or get held up massively (may as well ride with your mum).
I can tell you it’s pretty much impossible to ascertain the correct pecking order without the help of a highly esteemed sports psychologist, but lucky for you readers, part of my learning to become a biking guru involved watching highly inspirational sports videos like Bay Watch, Top Gun, Miami Vice and of course my favorite, McGyver. I’ve correlated all the relevant info into an easy to use checklist that you can study or just print out and take to the trails when needed.
You need to pay a whole lot of attention to what’s going on around you, shut your mouth, look, listen and learn.
“That guy is fast”… that guy is way faster than me
“He’s pretty quick”…I think he may be faster than me.
“He’s ok”…. I’m faster than him
“Who invited Henry?”….Henry is frickin useless and is going to ruin this ride.
Dudes on Flash bikes? … means nothing, everyone has a flash bike now.
Dudes all dressed up looking pro in matching kit?...generally not very fast but may still be faster than you.
Local riders? ...pretty much guaranteed to be faster than you.
Dudes that let you go in front?...they are in the same boat as you, so you may as well take that spot.
Dudes that push in front of you?...they rate themselves and may have a good reason to do so…or someone has just told them that “you ride ok”.
Girls? … doesn’t matter how fast they are, they’re generally too good natured to get stressed about it and testosterone is at a minimum. (Except that bloody Rosara Joseph…she will mow you down!)
That’s the easy stuff, the tricky part is to get in a good seeding spot that allows you to keep the guy up front in view so you can learn his lines, without him pulling too far ahead and next minute your lost, confused, crashing and causing a major pile up and then any cred you had is gone and everyone relegates you to the back of the pack for the rest of the day.
The best way to achieve this is to look your new mates in the eye for “the glint”. This phenomenon occurs in extremely cocky individuals who have got where they are today by taking risks and winning. In the old days they would have been gunfighters or matadors, now they are self-made businessmen. You need to let these guys go ahead or they will take great pleasure in ruining your day. Everyone else faster or slower than you will take it all with a grain of salt (but moan about you afterwards) so just jump in there. But please! ... every time you pull up and the guy behind you is right there, do offer your spot up. If you are holding him up then he will gladly move up one. If he says “no you’re sweet”, then believe in yourself, go hard and see if you can move yourself up a spot. And practice that steely eyed glint every chance you get some alone time in the bathroom.
Rod “why do you guys keep putting me at the back” Bardsley.