FOOD FOR THOUGHT: 10 QUALITIES OF A GOOD BIKER
Ever wonder why some riders are just better than the rest? Are they naturally more talented? Endowed with fitness that makes physical demanding manueveres a walk in the park? Have less nerve endings on their skins and thus have a higher threshold for pain? Or perhaps they are just luckier than the commonfolk and are blessed with lots of cycling opportunities? Somehow they seem to magically know their bike's characteristics and tech bits? These supposedly bike gods and super humans – are they for real? Truth is, these special group of people are just like you and me. They just happen to possess some attributes that allow them to handle things better. This applies not just for biking, but practically everything else. Just what are these divine attributes? Here's a list of 10 most (in our opinion) significant ones.
Mere mortals only need to possess 8 out of the 10 attributes stated below. Hit 9 and you probably have the potential to be an extraordinary biker! If you possess all 10, chances are you are already a professional sportsperson. Check out these 10 realistic attributes and see if you agree with us.
For simplicity, we shall refer to this role model rider as 'Aaron'.
SADDLE TIME: Rides anywhere on a bike and never complains about the distance.
Just tell Aaron to meet you at the trailhead, which could be 35 km from his place and you can count on him to be there on time. Sometimes, he would even have finished a lap or 2 by the time you arrive. And when it's chill out night for a coffee, he turns up at the coffee joint on a bike. Aaron rides alone, in groups, during the day, at night, whenever he is free, whenever he feels that urge to roll.
EXPERIENCE: Lots of hands-on technical experience for the bike.
Besides lots of saddle time, Aaron also knows his bike very well. He has a hands-on kind of personality and can do basic repairs and diagnostics on his bike when the need arises. He may not have had formal technical training, but he takes the effort to do his own repair and maintenance work. Regularly reading up keeps him abreast of trends and know-hows. He likes to handle his own bike because that allows him to understand it better.
REAL ENJOYMENT: Genuinely enjoy cycling, all the time.
Aaron rides because he loves doing it. Period. It is not due to peer pressure, or because "it's-a-cool-thing-to-do". You can see it on his expression when he rides – the joy and the air of freedom. No matter how tough the ride, he smiles at the end of it. (Ed: When a person does what he loves doing regularly, he is very likely a happier person with a positive outlook to life. It could be that cycling helps destress, but whatever the reason, we can all agree that cycling has a high tendency to improve one's mental health.)
GENEROSITY: Share knowledge and experience.
Aaron is a team player. While he is totally competent in working stuff out on his own, race alone, ride alone, he also enjoys his time with his mates. He is always keen to help when the situation arises. He would be the first to help carry bikes up the truck for the next round of uplift to the downhill start point, and he would be the first to offer help to tune a set of shocks.
ATTITUDE: Stay focused, even on fine details.
Contrary to beliefs, good riders do not acquire their skills at birth. They do spend time training. While regular riding gives them the fitness and basic riding habits, it does not include advanced technical or street riding skills. These extras come at a price – lots of saddle time. Whatever skill a rider wishes to acquire – be it advanced trail technical skills, fancy street tricks, speed or airs – it's all about practice, practice and more practice! All while others are chilling somewhere else. To put serious heart and soul into such training, certainly requires perseverane and a positive learner's attitude. It's this attitude that tells Aaron that he seriously wants to level-up! And there is a high chance that with this exceptionally positive attitude and hunger for improvement, he could just master those new skills faster. Don't be jealous.
SOCIAL LIFE: Not riding for social media. Yet, not shy to share.
Aaron does not shun nor underplay social media. Yet, he is not overly zealous about sharing his whole life with the masses. He always looks forward to a coffee session with his friends. And the conversation topics at such gatherings are not restricted only to bike talks, although bike-related topis would flow into the chats naturally too. (Ed: We are well aware that over-zealous folks do not last long in the game, their interest dwindles after their infatuation simmers down. It's those consistent ones that win the game in the end.) Aaron likes his Strava and speed days too, but he is fine with chill rides when the fun dudes want to ride and do crazy stuff together.
FOOD: Eat well and balanced.
Some riders eat with lots of discipline – like a Spartan. Not Aaron. He eats just about anything he fancies with the mantra of having everything in "moderation". He hates "food coma" or that bloated feel of having too much food in him. A spread of his favourite dishes (which contains the 4 major food groups) is good enough for him. No excess helpings needed. A "cheat day" is kind of pointless for his diet because he never deprives himself of his food-loves. All he knows is that, he needs to plan his next day's activities in advance. If it's a race, it would mean no oily food and a good old water parade. If it's a rest day coming up, he would allow for more fancy fares. Eat, drink and be merry. And ride!
FITNESS: The importance of good fitness and good moto-reflex
The more Aaron rides, the more internalized his bike skills and motor-reflexes are. In the course of more riding, his fitness improves which allows him to ride longer, faster and better. These benefits are all part of a cyclical package. Being physically fit allows for more enjoyment, more activities in a single day. But, walking the path towards better physical fitness need not be a religious journey. It should not be limited only to cycling. Mix them up! While some prefer the gym, some prefer more games and activities. Cross train, swim, run, MMA, weights, pakour, rock climb, wake board, motocross whatever rocks your boat. As long as it's fun. As a die-hard biker, Aaron mixes his games between road, dirt, BMX and mountain biking. That keeps the fun factor going!
HARDWARE: Good homies almost usually do not have the most expensive bikes.
We've all heard the common saying: "It's the rider, not the bike!" This may take on another meaning. It also means not all good riders are sponsored (yet). So it goes to show that while Aaron's bikes may not be the most colour coordinated, most hi-end spec-ed with limited edition components and show room shines, his bike is always dialed to his riding style and 100% race ready. To Aaron, a well tuned bike that fits him well is more valuable than an expensive, newly launched bike that he is unfamiliar of.
RISK: A little risk is fine
No Venture No Gain? Whichever way this phrase is interpreted for us, it only means we have to take both wheels off the ledge to truly feel the air. And this is that final quality Aaron possesses that has gotten him bigger airs, faster timings and more fun. He is well aware of the challenges of this sport, and often the little risk and uncertainty that comes along with it. Taking risk at the right time, jumping into an abyss, carving and losing control but having that confidence in knowing he would gain it back at just the right moment … these are the calculated risks Aaron allows himself. Of course, there are the usual miscalculations that come with the price tag of an nasty crash. Good riders are mentally prepared for the risk of this sport but, no, that doesn't mean they are foolhardy.
There you have it. Bikezilla's take on the 10 most important qualities of a biker that could go the whole nine yards in biking life. We would like to hear your views on this too. Share your views with us if you wish to list other qualities that are more crucial than the ones we listed. But regardless of whether you agree with us or not, let's ride!