Friday, May 24, 2013

Boots and Cats

I was listening to the radio in my basement the other night while replacing Munson's old Tiagra 1x9 shifter on Old Yeller CX.

The shifter gave out while riding along the Hipster Highway a few weeks back. It simply stopped clicking on the fourth cog. And that was it. No cleaning, lubing, or coaxing could get it to function anymore. It's hard to believe that its demise came there along the Hipster Highway. I mean, it's been through four years of Omaha winters, cyclocross and mountain bike races. And it gives way on a nice Spring day near Olympia Cycle?

I'm not complaining. Just wondering. I got every penny out of that component. Thank you, Shimano.

Anyway, while I was replacing the shifter on Old Yeller CX, I was listening to the radio. Normally, it's sports radio, but NBA playoffs? No thanks. So it went from AM to FM's NPR, where they were talking about singing a capella. I suck at singing. But apparently, anyone can be trained to sing in this style simply by starting with basic rhythm. In fact, all one needs to do is repeat the phrase, "boots and cats and."

Go ahead, give it a try:
boots and cats and
boots and cats and
boots and cats and
boots and cats and

If you can't do this right now because you're too embarrassed to beat box while sitting in your cubicle at work, I understand. Truly, it's okay. Do it later.

Fast forward to Monday, where I was riding my cross bike at Tranquility with Fred and a guy named Jim. I had forgotten all about boots and cats. Instead, I was busy focusing on not riding my bike into trees and stuff. I was riding horridly. But this is usually the case at first until I find a rhythm. On one particular rough stretch, my front wheel hit an exposed root pretty hard, hard enough to make a loud thud. The bike shuddered and caused the chain to slap the stay a few times. This tire-thud, chain-slap combo sounded something like this: boots and cats-cats n cats.

Wait wait, what was that? Boots and cats and..? I knew this ditty! My memory was jogged back to NPR segment. I'm sorry, but what happened next is probably against every rule about keeping the peace while mountain biking, but I couldn't resist. I began beat boxing while I rode. I did, ever so softly, so Jim and Fred couldn't hear it. I hope.

The amazing thing was that as soon as I laid down the beat, my riding improved. Immediately. It somehow helped me settle into a relaxed rhythm, allowing me to pick better lines.

More than any other cycling disciplines, I've discovered that mountain biking requires rhythm. For example, you don't need rhythm when time trialing. You just mash the big ring while the demons in your head scream how much you suck at time trialing. You also don't need any rhythm while road racing. Not a lick. Road races amount to sitting in the field until Lee Bumgarner picks his spot, then you mash the big ring until you're dropped 30 seconds later, queue league of internal demons screaming you how much you suck, etc...

Mountain biking is something more than mashing. You still need power. But to be decent in this discipline also requires dialing in. Kind of like snow-skiing moguls. Until you see your path and incorporate some rhythm, you'll flounder. Once your established, it will go much more smoothly.

OK that's all I got to say about that.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

boots and cats and boots and cats and..

1 comment:

  1. Whew. I'm glad to know you were "beat-boxing". I was hoping you couldn't hear my cadence from the hit 80's movie, "Stripes" Boom shaka-lacka-lacka, boom shaka-lacka-lacka ...