TCI Friday is a participatory feature. You read and respond.
Last week, some friends and I were out on a mixed-terrain ride, a route we call the “Reverse Chapman.” Because of the time of year, we were all on hard-tails for this particular boondoggle, which turned out to be somewhat fortuitous as we discovered, running about 25 yards off an established, paved bike path, a pirate pump track. We’d been rolling along all casual and tired after completing most of the ‘RC,’ when we spied a slender strip of dirt snaking along parallel to our course.
“What is that?” several of us said simultaneously, pulling brake levers and pooling for a quick conference.
A quick scan of the flora betrayed a faint, narrow entrance that quickly became an established trail. I lead the way. Suddenly the trail dropped away and then rose up again, a jump, a steep one. I was already in for a penny on this one, so I pressed the pedals and dove.
I will admit here a few things. One, I am not comfortable off the ground. Two, I didn’t know what the landing looked like. Three, I’m not even sure we oughta have been back there. Four, the take-off was steeper than I’d first surmised.
Having said all that, I was in the air before any of it made any difference. In fact, I was more in the air than I’d been in a long time. And it was going well. The bike stayed straight. I stayed on the bike. The ground approached at a reasonable rate of speed, and I put the rear wheel down just slightly before the front. I rolled away pretty pleased with myself, and almost immediately wanted to do it again.
I’m pretty ok at riding bikes.
By contrast, I’m bad with a wrench. It’s not that I’m not handy. I have a good track record of fixing appliances, plumbing and other random stuff around the house. I get how things works. I can troubleshoot and repair. But for some reason, the micro-precision and nuance of bicycle mechanicry have never been my bailiwick. Oh, sure. I can do stuff. I can make things works, but my maintenance and repairs never feel solid. They don’t inspire confidence.
This week’s TCI Friday wonders what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. I’m a bad sprinter. I’m good bike handler. I’m bad at precision, but good at winging it. I have a good sense of direction, but a poor sense of pace.
I’m better at going downhill than good climbers tend to be. I’m better at going uphill than good descenders tend to be. I’m better at slow techy stuff than my really fast friends are. I’m better at going uphill than I should be based on my fitness because I am a pretty good bike handler.
I’m good at understanding how things work. I’m decent with a wrench, but not great at it. I’m good enough to keep all the bicycles and dirtbikes working, including fork and engine rebuilds. I don’t do shocks though, that is the only thing I farm out. I’m a good enough mechanic to keep the car, the truck, and the van on the road…but usually I don’t feel like devoting my time and effort for the big jobs.
I’m good at sniffing out singletrack, but don’t feel the confidence to be comfortable leading riders faster than me on the group rides. I’m not good at being able to relax while faster riders are behind me.
I’m good at helping newer riders learn how to ride, and thankfully also good at not thinking that every new rider wants the advice constantly. I guess that I feel like I am bad at finding the right balance of giving advice and shutting up, so I tend to shut up. If I was better at self-promotion and knowing that balance, maybe I could start a coaching/teaching business. Since I’m not, I’ll stick with another thing I am good at, which is my current job (RN).
I’m good at showing up. I’m bigger than the average cyclist, and still I climb above average. I’m a good descender while wanting to become even a safer one. I’m good at riding with different people, but would love to be better at riding with my wife.
I’m good at not buying too much cycling stuff. I’m also really good at wearing stuff out. I’m hard on people and things that I love.
I am not a good mechanic. But I am a good local bike shop supporter.
I’m bad at structured training. Worse at signing up for an event.
I’m bad at organized activities. Don’t suffer fools well. Think bicycles should have both tires on Terra Firma. Like careful, detailed work. Climb like a lead weight.
I’m pretty good at dreaming up epic rides that are usually about an hour too long.
I’m bad at keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to having the lightest and most aero thing.
Great read! I’m good at playing bikes, sometimes but my collarbone might not agree. I’m good at grinding it out at the front but not so great at the hills. Good at playing skateboards even at over 50 and once was ok at screaming on stage. Now good at being a husband and dad and pretty good at being a teacher. Good at drinking beer and good at kicking my own ass! Pretty bad at acting my age but I think that’s pretty good.
Not good at bike work; I’ll make 3 mistakes for every success, but will do it if I have to. Except cables and hoses; never touch those. I’m a really good bike commuter; fast, nimble, confident in traffic but don’t take more space than I need and know all the traffic laws better than most motorists. I’m good at long solitary road rides but not good at disguising my contempt for “gravel.” I’m really working on being a better ride partner for my wife.
I’m a good bike handler/technical rider. I’m good at drops and steeps. I’m a good sprinter, but poor at maintaining a high speed over a longer ride. I’m okay at staying on pace and maintaining a tight peloton/paceline for road pursuits which I do not do much of any longer so maybe I might not be good at that any longer. When I did Cyclocross I was good at running barriers, dismounting/remounting, mixing it up bump and grinding, but poor at maintaining a fast pace throughout the race. I’m excellent at learning the hard way. I’m good at not taking myself or much of anything too seriously and the music I like is excellent even if many might find it to be just a noisy mess. \m/