Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2013

On the bench: Damascus Hadseax blade

So, done with riding and philosophy, back to business;-): This is a new hadseax blade I have in the making. 90x3mm file / crucible shear steel damascus, selective temper with a scandi grind... I will keep you informed how it goes...;-)

...that a threat or a promise?;-)

The whiplash line-what mountainbike riding has to do with art nouveau, martial arts and a fiddlehead

I am a mountainbiker who now rides hard for 27 years, and without a question, I started just like everyone else. I bought a bike, fiddled around with components, made my own and bought pink titanium goodies just like anyone else. But at some point I realized something. I realized that I could not agree with the "bigger is better" crowd. People had given me their time and knowledge, and I realized I had the responsibility to give something back. So, I started tutoring, giving workshops for kids from a poor social background, and the like. It was then that I realized I had to learn what I was actually doing, for you teach best when learning. So I started to analyze what I was actually doing on my bike. I had always experienced flow, and "transcendent experiences in forest environments" were not at all strangers to me, either. I realized, being a writer and trying to torment my guitar and my flute, that flow can be experienced in other situations as well. So I  studied as much as I could on that topic and made some very interesting discoveries. I realized analogies and shared characteristics in the concept of flow, satori, eucharist, kairos, metakairos especially, the awareness of Chí, and shamanic exstasy. I had always studied several martial arts, with no ambition and until very recently, without instruction, and my father had trained me in our family martial art since I was a child.

When analyzing the Motions involved in mountainbike riding and slavic martial arts, I discovered a strange application of force. Being accustomed to the yin yang concept, but no expert in that matter, I was irritated that the development of force application of many movements seemed to follow a whiplash-line motion. In slavic dances with the Shashka, this becomes very evident in how the force develops. Apart from the double-circle (eight) motion, the "eight" can be diversed in whiplash lines.

This at first seemed contradictory to the Yin Yang principle, until I learned that the commonly known type of Yin - Yang is not the end of it.

Here, I found a decent explanation on the concept.

Non-polar (wuji) and yet Supreme Polarity (taiji)! The Supreme Polarity in activity generates yang; yet at the limit of activity it is still. In stillness it generates yin; yet at the limit of stillness it is also active. Activity and stillness alternate; each is the basis of the other. In distinguishing yin and yang, the Two Modes are thereby established. The alternation and combination of yang and yin generate water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. With these five [phases of] qi harmoniously arranged, the Four Seasons proceed through them. The Five Phases are simply yin and yang; yin and yang are simply the Supreme Polarity; the Supreme Polarity is fundamentally Non-polar. [Yet] in the generation of the Five Phases, each one has its nature.[8]
picture source:

It is now a stunning "coincidence";-) that e.g. the motion of the hands on the handlebar when bunnyhopping an obstacle on a mountainbike follows exactly the same line, and that  the whole mess does not end there. Many everyday motions we do without thinking follow this principle in one way or the other.

It is then that I came across the Heraclitus spiral, 
the Fibonacci, or generally, the Golden Ratio spiral. The golden ratio was discovered by Adolf Zeising to reflect the growth and arrangement of plants and their limbs in nature. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do maths properly, but I found this strangely appropriate.

For instance, if you look at a fiddlehead, you will realize a striking similarity, and, of course, this is only natural, not necessarily because nature follows the golden ratio, but also because we always are obliged to follow nature, and the golden ratio has always been a means to describe nature.

That said and done, I assume that this diagram of the whiplash line is found throughout nature, and, of course, the whiplash line follows the aesthetics of the golden ratio. I then assume that a movement following the whiplash / golden spiral is a natural movement. If we assume the concept of Ch ´i expresses itself in flow or satori and follow the thesis that movement in itself is an expression of the application of force, we can now state that:

1. The whiplash line is a natural phenomenon following the golden ratio
2. The application of any force follows the whiplash line diagram, as well as the dialectic movement in polarity pairs like Yin and Yang. A similar concept are the expanding gyres of W.B.Yeats.
3. Since the concept of Ch ´i is linked to Satori (Flow), and Satori is linked to a kind of activity of either body or mind, and since this activity at least for the most part follows the whiplash line diagram and thusly the golden ratio, the development of flow / satori must also follow the whiplash line / spiral form.

Therefore, the spiral form is crucial for the understanding of flow, satori, or the Awen / AOUEIn. Since I assume an identity of flow with the Awen, and the Awen is a principle, amongst other things, of inspiration, I must assume that the process of creativity and creation must also follow these lines. Therefore, I must assume, that creation is organized in a fractal manner.

Flow/Satori/Awen therefore follows fractal ratio. be continued.

DeNOOBing ourselves-and riding on the AOUEIn´s wings: A technique training tutorial

 On Wednesday, traditionally the weekly ride of my mountainbike club takes place. This week I contributed a bit by offering a tutorial, for beginners and rookies and trail riders alike. Wasn´t exactly crowded, but the quality of company certainly made up for it. BärLee, who agreed to assist me in guiding the training, Andrea, who is a very nice person with a deep personality, Seppel, and last but in no way least, Jandark. We met at the Felsengarten, which might be known to readers of my blog;-), and had a chat beforehand. It seems that not all is grand in the wonderland of our club, and we discussed about that, Jandark being the web designer and Andrea being the press consultant, Seppel and Bär some of the most active members, and myself, having started this whole mess;-). And I feel the urge to loose some words on the subject:

In the beginning, Zee Aylienz were more than just any other club. It was an idea. It was not only about buying the latest paraphernalia and having a shiny bike and tech talk and training. There were times when I had taken this whole thing way to serious, but even if  I do not do this anymore and have simplified my attitude a bit, some aspects still remain:

It is about getting out on your bike, having fun, for sure, but also taking responsibility, for freedom isn´t free. First and foremostly, the woods we ride through are not only great for the fact that they provide us with a sporting area. They are great, because they are woods, with all the animals and plants involved. We get out there for adventure, for freedom, to get out of the madness of our world, and we want to preserve this possibility, and so we have to work for the woods. We have to fight for them, for trees, while they can hate, they cannot move. We have to love the trees and animals for what they are, not what they should be. Oh, and we did it and still do that. And our team became bigger, and we started to take the madness of the outside world with us on our rides. People started to compete on the rides, and that´s not bad in itself. But they forgot they were kins and brethren in a fight for a moment of freedom and peace. They valued their ego so much their smile first became wry, when they shook hands after battling each other up or down the hill. Then the whispering started and the gossip. Then the woods became irrelevant, and the material you rode ever so much more important. More whispering started, bragging and mobbing.

Recently, this had become better again, and this is the reason I agreed to do something for the club again. Mountainbike riding has given me so much more than just getting dirty or about performance;-). It has taken me places in the woods and mountains I would have never experienced without a bike, but more important, it has taken me places in my soul I would never have discovered. I could rant on endlessly about the concept of flow, and I have done so on other occasions and other blogs. If you want to understand what drives me, look here. I have experienced flow myself, not only in mountainbiking, but also in ex - tempore poetry and musical sessions, and I looked at myself in awe, wonder and gratefulness at being alive. And while I have no right to lecture or even tutor anyone on that topic, I want to give something back to the world. The fact that flow is not limited to sports and not even to an activity, gives me hope to bring back a tiny bit of magic into this deranged world, for the concept of flow shares many characteristics with the feelings described by adepts of most any religious concept. That said, and keeping in mind I do not want to lecture anyone or create a dogma, this concept best speaks for itself when experienced, and that´s not easy. Mountainbiking is not "the" way to experience it, but it is one way. But just as Satori is not being experienced while you struggle and concentrate on techniques, but only after a period of constant practice, when the moves involved have become second nature, it´s just about the same with flow, which in my book, IS the same.

Since this experience not only has made me very happy, but is also crucial to the transcendent experience of forest environments, and since this experience is at least beneficial to the understanding of the original idea of the club, "zee aylienz", I currently feel the urge to pass it on. Of course, there is also a bit of wishing to be understood involved, but first and foremostly, I believe that many of the current challenges in the club or even in society might be won if we had something to believe in. In that, our club is a mirror of society in the whole, and, hey, I cannot save the world. But maybe I can try to do my friends a favor, eh?;-)

Flow is no sorcery. It´s just a phenomenon encountered after a bit of training after all, be it music or mountainbike riding. What anyone makes out of this experience, is not my business. What I can contribute, however, are plain old training and some tricks this old dog learned;-) on the trail. I must also mention that I owe a lot of the practical side of the tutorial to Elmar Keineke, with whom I once made a tutorial for kids from a poor social background together. Also, he always had some giveaways for the kids courtesy of his employer at hand, and thusly, I can´t thank him enough.

Okay, now talk is cheap, and we quit blabbering also, and made for the location. Since only Andrea was present who needed tutoring, I did not do it systematically, but simply tried to answer her questions. First we did some sort of warming up, nothing fancy, really, just riding the simpler stuff, and then we got to the point where the rubber meets the rock;-).
 Bastian analyzing a rock garden section that was not exactly smooth;-).
 After surveying the terrain, which importance can´t be emphasized enough, Jandark made up his mind to ride the bastard. It is crucial that you get the ride in your mind before you actually do it. You have to visualize yourself riding this or that line succesfully. If you cannot do that in your mind, that´s when you have to say "No". This is even more important than  actually doing it, but doing it out of control. "Those who fight and run away live to fight another day", as the old saying goes. If you feel uneasy about it, don´t do it. If your buddies yell at you or call you a coward, let them talk, it´s your spine fracture, not theirs. It´s more important to know when to say "No" than doing it under pressure. But also ask yourself if you really can´t do it. Look at it at least three times, walk the section and analyze the line. Remember that the path down the hill is always the same as the water will take. Sometimes you must modify this general rule of thumb, but most of the time it will help you.
 Jan walked it. He paused. He touched this stone or that. He looked at it intently, then breathed, and said "I will do it". And did he make it? BOY, did he!;-) Look at the picture: Jan keeps his strong foot on his front pedal. Also the cranks are level with the ground. That way he can control  the ride with his strong foot and does not risk hitting a rock with his lower pedal, which might even result in a crash with a nasty air trip over the bars and stopping on your cheekbone.;-) Clearance is crucial in this situation.

I must admit I stood there, on top, and fear swelled up in me. But I knew I had ridden this before, and even if the rain had caused some severe erosion in the past few years, it was still the same trail. So I breathed into my stomach and concentrated on my sternum. It helps to count to three when breathing in and to five when breathing out to calm down. If you cannot calm down, call it a day and walk it again.

I managed, for I knew I could do it, and I rode it myself. Bastian, however, was a bit injured still, and simply called it a day. Got the gist, that this is crucial;-)?
 Then I tutored Andrea showing her how to ride on slippery terrain, such as loose gravel. The trick is frightening at first, but works: Most people tend to use the rear brake more than the front. But roundabout 80% of braking force is applied through the front brake. If you use the rear brake exclusively on a steep slope, the rear wheel will lock up, and you end up on a sleigh ride down the hill, becoming ever faster and losing control. The trick is to use the front brake. When the rear brake locks up, and you start to skid, don´t panic. Just open the brake for a fraction of a second to allow it to make a half revolution to get new grip. Always look ahead of you, about 15 m to the front. The bike will also always follow the direction where it´s pointed, and that´s the direction of your head. You can try that out in an empty parking lot: Ride a straight line and the explosively turn your head in one direction. When you follow with your knee on that side, you will already have a half turn, aim your elbow around the bend and the bike will turn. The only limit is the wheelbase of your bike! Also remember to have all your braking done before any bend: First you slow down with your front brake, and use the rear brake only halfway through the turn.

Keeping that in mind, you can figure out to look at things and objects you´d rather avoid might end up in a desaster. So, don´t program your mind like "oh, don´t hit that rock", but go like: "steer to the right side of that rock". Look  where you are aimed. MESSAGE!;-)

That said and done, you can experiment with your mind a bit. put on two different socks, say one with pink polkadots and one with yellow. Ride a straight line on the parking lot. Then think about the pink polkadots.

When riding around a bend at high speed, and not through rocks that might need more clearance and pedals level with the ground, your balance and speed is greatly enhanced by weighting the outside pedal. You can even experiment with all your weight on the outside pedal, taking the inside foot from the pedal. That  way you can ride out 360 degree-bends with little to no braking.

 When Andrea saw Bär Lee jumping the staircase she immediately went: "I want to do that, too!". To float down a flight of stairs, you have to unweight the front wheel, but be careful. First experiment with the balance point. Dismount your bike and set it on the rear wheel before you, holding onto the handlebar. Then push the handlebar diagonally back, down and then away from you, resulting in a push of the rear wheel away from you. You will notice that there is one point where little to no force is required to push the rear wheel  away from you. This is the much sought after balance point or manual point. Keep in mind that the curve diagonally back towards you, then down and away from you describes a dynamic curve, like a whiplash-line (MESSAGE!;-)). This curve is not only crucial to lift the handlebar in the so-called "floater drop" down a staircase, but also to the wheelie and bunnyhop. But, also keep in mind, that there are dangers, too. If you do not adjust to the manual point, you might fall off backwards, onto your spine, and this would be serious. First and foremostly, use appropriate safety gear and carry a first-aid kit. A daypack with a hydration bladder serves the purpose of spine protection quite well for lighter trail applications, but if you want to go big, always wear a motocross or freeskiing spine protector.

But there´s also one simple technique you can use when overdoing the quest for the holy manual point. Try out dismounted, with your bike before you, to push your bike over the balance point, and then pull hard on the rear brake. The front wheel, following the braking impulse, will immediately come down.

When practicing lifting the front wheel it is first crucial to lower your saddle so that you can at least sit on it while both of your feet comfortably sit on the ground. Roll at medium speed. The piece where your fork sits in the frame to meet the handlenbar is called a steerer tube, and there you can find a badge or something. Go down into a crouch, while you push your elbows out, and while doing so, lean forward, so that you can see this badge. Pull back/up, down and forward in a whiplash line motion. Imagine a whip going through your motion. The front wheel will go up, but not much. Now repeat the procedure, but this time roll at a medium speed (both pedals level with the ground and your strong foot on the front pedal) standing up as high as possible, then crouch down explosively in a whiplash line motion. KEEP! THAT! FINGER! ON! THE! REAR! BRAKE! LEVER!;-) You will be surprised at how easy the front wheel goes up. Also, practice the wheelie and dismounting off the back in a stress situation.

Now to the floater drop. Andrea rode the staircase first, at least ten times. We also practiced stopping on the stair, and riding slow, but this time we hit the stairs at ever-increasing speed, and Andrea realized the front wheel always became lighter with increasing speed, and that she had a tendency to land on the front wheel. Since it were just three steps, that was not a problem. But when hitting a larger staircase or natural rock drops at high speed, this can send you sailing over the bars. This is the reason the Gods made the floater drop;-). You use it to lift your front wheel out of trouble, and to land with your rear wheel first. This way, the impact is taken away from your weaker arms and transferred into your stronger legs, and the process of the bike dropping from the rear onto the front takes the force out of the impact additionally. But you have to take care that your front wheel is a bit higher than the rear always. This you can achieve by leaning back in the air. If the front wheel gets to high, tip on the rear wheel just enough to lower it. Diving the front wheel is a technique only applied when there´s a slope landing involved.
 It simply was a great experience, for different skill levels of riders simply rode together in a very friendly, heart-warming atmosphere, tutoring each other and simply having a ball. Bastian, in spite of his injury, did quite some dropping down himself, and must I go on endlessly about the skill level of Bär Lee?
I mean, that guy rides for but, .... wait, is that two years...?! Here, he´s airing it out in style. It´s great to hang out with those gals and guys, for it helps me improve myself also. I hope I have made clear, that we did that together. We are on a quest. It´s not only the quest for "bigger is better" and the ultimate fun. But we also seek the truth in a world of lies. I don´t know if mountainbiking is the correct means for it, but then I do not care. We are freaks, but care for each other, and we try to discover a new world, for the old one is wrecked to pulp by banksters, politicians, priests, and liars.

I also hope I have made clear that it´s not just mountainbiking for me. It´s the woods and the real world I want to discover. I have been force - fed lies all of my life, and never believed in them. Now I hope.

Dienstag, 25. Juni 2013

Finishing an underpaid job;-)

 On Friday before the Ruhrbike race, I rode to the smithy to do some honest work again and to finish the job Volker had ordered. 20 tent pegs wanted to be forged, i.e. 15 scrolls and 10 tips, all from 16mm round bar. First, I did some degasing the coal, which was coke size 4 anthracite.
 Since I had to do some pounding also, I brought my big hammer also. I tend to use my own hammer more often than not, even if it´s light at 1.200 g. But it draws out very efficiently. Advice: When you forge your own hammer, make sure its weight is centered around the handle more, makes it very nimble! The whitehouse forge hammer I got on a flea market, and it´s a great one for harder work.
 I also made some more S - hooks which can be quite handy in a reenactment camp for kettles, for strapping down a tent, and whatnot. I mede them from 6mm round stock.
 I also made this dragon head tent peg for Volker.
 And a leaf-shaped tent peg just for fun (and for Voker to mess up the prices again;-))
I also started a leaf handled knife out of spring steel, but I stacked up and broke the leaf off*grml*:-), so I will forge it out as a rattail tang to be fitted into a handle. I will post some pictures then...promise;-).

It was quite energizing to do something other than damascus and the like. Not that I do not like that anymore, but sometimes you simply have to clear your mind to avoid getting in a rut.

I hope that Volker´s customer will be content with the outcome!

Ruhr Bike Festival 2013 - Bushwhacking, murder attempts and plain old fun

 Now this is somewhat of a difficult post. I do not know where to start, for it is an event that not only took place. A lot of people made it happen, and, even if there were many people involved, I guess I´d start with a different kind of Volker, another friend of mine.

As many of my readers know, mountainbiking is always seen as controversial. Mountainbikers are seen as an ecological catastrophe, a pest, a plague. I am a mountainbiker, too, and, while I totally agree that tearing up remote desert spots or high - alpine - off-trail terrain might not be socially acceptable, a trail in some hills where a tyre track will vanish in one weeks course, is totally acceptable to ride on and have fun on, and no ecological consequences whatsoever result thereof. Just take care you´ve left the woods after sunset, OR learn how to avoid scaring any animal off. Especially in winter one should also take care to leave the wildstock alone where it needs it. Out of respect,  and not because someone told you so. If you follow some rules, all will be fine.

But then there´s another grievance against mountainbikers, and that´s social interaction. Many mountainbikers are said to be egomanic, antisocial morons scaring the shit out of horses, horseback riders, dogs, dog owners, pedestrians and being rude to hunters. And I have to say, while I always tried to be polite and ready for discussions, controlled my speed and said hello, let hikers, horseback riders and dog owners pass by and exchanged a few polite words, those who do that also seem to become fewer, and I got my fill of abuse from fellow mountainbikers when I suggested to accept the trail rules of DIMB and IMBA. Plus, we wear helmets, ride a bike that has often a martial, aggressive look, we move silently, but very fast, we love to jump and do aireal tricks and stunts, and this adds to a problem: That we are not seen rationally as just another group of recreational sports individuals, but as a threat.

That said and done, I must explain that, in this region, we have a mountainbike mekka, sort of. Even well - known Canadian riders come here to ride the trails, when they are around these parts, and that tells something. There are many manmade trails around, and here is another problem to be found: For in germany, until only recently, the land - owner had to assume liability to any injury any person, horseback rider, pedestrian or mountainbike rider might suffer due to a lack of safety in his or her woods. Fortunatly, this insane law had been removed recently, and was never persecuted as rigorously, for everyone, even lawyers, know that woods are woods (we might as well learn that the knowledge of lawyers might end there as far as the woods are concerned*ggg*SCHWARZDORN!!!). But what remains, is, that it is not polite to build  5 m - high  drop - down jump stunts on private property without asking.

The Ruhrbike-race takes place on a large amount of private property. Volker and Dirk from RSC Tretlager Bike Club Wetter were the ones responsible for the acquisition of trails for the race, and while most of the time they managed to get along with the land - owners very nicely, some of them were not exactly amused to have a  bike race on their doorstep. Because they had worse experiences with mountainbikers slamming into their horses, scaring their cows and dogs and whatnot, and building stunts in their woods without asking. If every mountainbiker in the region would voluntarily keep to a code of conduct like the DIMB / IMBA rules, Volker and Dirk would not have as hard a time as they have finding trails for the race. We will learn further down, that maybe even more problems could be solved.

When Volker called me if I would help out cutting free and pruning some trails, I agreed blissfully, for I wanted to show him my respect. So I packed my Khukhuri and a saw, and got a rake from Volker´s father. Must I mention that I also enjoyed being out in the woods and taking my old Khuk out for a walk?;-) 
The trail towards the place I had to clean up.
There lay this dried oak branch, and maybe the riders could have bunnyhopped it, but I simply wanted to do some chopping...;-), so I cleared it away.
Then it was some raking work, cleaning the downhill from fallen leaves, rotting twigs and branches, some good 300-500 m of it.
Before it looked like no trail at all.
I loved being out there, all alone, in the silent woods, under this lovely green light of the sun that shone warm and brightly, with the sounds of birds singing, and the echoes of my soul being strong in this environment. I regretted to have to tear out some tree saplings that grew in the trail and had to be removed. I tried to replant as much as I could, but to be honest, I daresay many of them will not survive it. But it was a trail anyway, and they would be cleared off either way.
When I was done cleaning, there was another trail to be done.

By the way, a Khukhuri is a really good tool for many kinds of work. Like a billhook, you can chop as well as cut. I cleared this trail´s rims from nettles, jack-by-the-hedge, several strong grasses and brambles. I chopped some dead branches and tree limbs that had fallen on the trail, and that beast came  begging for more. And it´s not even a good one! I will make myself one soon.
Then, some two weeks later, the race was taking place. Volker and the safety squad rode the course beforehand to make sure everything was still in place. When they returned, they had a puzzled look on their faces. The start of the race had to be postponed.

It seems, from what I got out of them, that not only were the trail signs removed, as is common practice, and the ribbons taken away or torn, but someone put punji sticks into the soil on the course. There were banners mounted in the woods saying "Ruhrbike nein danke" (Ruhrbike - no thanks). Many of my mountainbiking friends out there will not understand me when I say that this is extremely serious. Not the banners or the common means of sabotage.

But that there are individuals out there not restraining from murder attempts, and punji sticks CAN kill, especially if you hit them on a downhill with some 35 km/h, to make sure the race does not take place. This is not just some "I do not want this or that, so I use the law or political methods to keep the organizers from doing it", but utter hate and ultima ratio. To me it is an indication that our civilization fails at a much more rapid rate than I expected, and it is a reminder to me to get my bug - out methods wired and train some more.

The organization team however, deserved even more of my respect, for in but half an hour time they managed to get the whole thing running.

I was then hanging around with the guys at the tent of my club, when a voice came from behind, calling me, and who might that be? It was Heike, whom I had not seen for a year or so. Now Heike is a very great person, a mountain bike racer extraordinaire, but also a very laidback girl with a wonderful attitude towards the sport. She´s also a hunter. Pardon me, a hunter? A mountainbiker and a hunter? Yap, that´s possible, and she does not suffer from schizophrenic fits. We had a laugh, and she told me she was there for fun and rode the race for no team whatsoever (she was a semi-pro until last year). I said: "Then you´re in for a victory? Do you prepare your comeback?" She answered: "I´d rather prepare my camenbert... it´s ripe."-"Is it overripe?"-"Last night it wanted to escape, it ran away to flee, but no chance, for I am a hunter..." We then had a laughing fit when we imagined what a big caliber might do to a camenbert that runs away and imagined a camenbert´s face... and NO, WE DID NOT TAKE ANY DRUGS*ggg* in case you ask. She then hemmed and hawed about putting a waterbottle here and there, "for she had noone to lend a hand". I replied "Oh pleeeease, just ask!!!". I once taught her the bunny hop and how to ride her first bike and accompagnied her on her first races, and it just makes me proud what she made out of that little input! So I took the water bottle to this location.
It wasn´t long  before the leading motorcycle came around the bend, ridden by one of my lunatic neighbours.;-)
I do not have an inkling of who those guys and gals were, but they apparently had fun and most liked the encouragement I had to offer.

This is maxvader from my club attacking on the uphill.

Then Heike came, still on 3rd position in the women´s race, and we exchanged water bottles and I gave her a piece of banana, and we traded a joke and a laugh  again. And this is what makes this person that endearing: Being able to have a laugh while you attack the field in a mountainbike race that´s not exactly all roses all the time!

When Heike had passed, some other member of my team came along huffing and puffing and snarling at me why I hadn´t brought a water bottle for him! I replied that he did not ask for it, and he answered that I should have guessed... that made my day! I laughed my head off afterwards...;-) Those are my most beloved situations with the morons of my

But, I must admit, this picture made me proud. For you could see a whole army of flame jerseys scattered around the expo area, being busy for the race of our neighbouring club, or for our racers.

The expo area was situated on a beautiful location, a sports area beneath an old  tower. The tower would be just right for me to live in...;-)

This was our tent in the expo area, and it was a right chillout zone. Racers who finished came along, friends, loved ones and relatives came by, and everyone had a chat and a laugh and enjoyed themselves.
Then Wido came in. Now this race is arguably one of the hardest in Germany. Testament to that fact is he smashed his rear derailleur on a stick in testing terrain. Not willing to quit, Wido just carved himself a stick, stuck it in the mech and finished, and not on the last position! Respect!
What I mean with a chillout zone.. great atmosphere, and thanks also go to Frank and Bastian who were present at the booth the whole day, handing out drinks and food and more than one beer!
Bikes galore...
The Nutrixxion booth. I heard say my club owes them summat, but I forgot what...*ggg* The energy bars, and more so the drinks and power gels (you know that stuff?GAH!) always tend to get stuck halfway in my throat, and my stomach seems to revolt, and I cannot call that "food", for there are no baked potatoes, bacon and sausage involved;-).
Susanne came along, exhausted and terrified by the race, but she finished. For that, I find she deserves even more respect. Knowing one can ride the hell of a race and even thinking of finishing, say top ten, is one matter. It´s as easy as picking up a penny. But knowing the bastard will bring you to your limit (or even over it), and still do it, just to become a better person, is brave and, when done out of the right reasons, worth more respect that racing for ranking.
Then I met with Adrian from Connex bicycle chains. We once rode more together, he riding downhill, races and all, including the ice - race in Winterberg and doing snow jump stunt shows, and hadn´t met for a decade or so. We had a chat, and I learned he will be a father soon... I wish him all the best for it!
Those are the guys from my favourite bike shop, metal motion bikes, Dennis and his father, Ralf. Ralf is riding mountainbikes since the medieval ages, and one can safely say he is a big part of the m,ountainbike scene. Dennis, the one with the strange haircut and the load of spare metal in the face;-) up front, looks like some ghetto kid, but is certainly one of the nicest guys in the scene, laidback, super-friendly, but firm. Also, he´s got a funny humour. When I neared their booth, he addressed me:

"Psst, we got a troll in the shop". We had a laugh on that ambiguity (meaning this bike, of course, not drui*ggg*) and a bit of beating around the bush. I really have a certain affinity to those surly bikes, for they are bombproof and will easily meet a bushcraft standard. No race bikes, those means of transport will get you places even after a meltdown. Also, I love that classy look. Talking of which, they also got a classy GT Hans Rey anniversary edition of the classic GT Avalanche trail bike on the booth, all white and gold, with a triskell as a stem cap...schwweeet! As you can see, I am not above being a techno weenie from time to time myself. But that stem cap gave me ideas... something to do with a forge and some stag antler crown... watch this space...;-). We talked about this or that, and I have to drop by their shop soon, just to control if they are not making mischief there;-).
There also  was a junior dance group presenting Arabian dance interpretations. I found that good, for we desperately need cultural diversity and integration!
Decathlon is another sponsor of our club...
And this was my favourite place;-), for there you could have pasta, coffee, cake, wafers and a lot of real and delicious homemade food.
Talking of which, I attended a Carsting;-), Carsten, that is. Carsten is another laidback guy from the RSC team, always with a joke on his lips, even when the going got tough. Originally hailing from Solingen, the bladesmithing town and being no stranger to some knife talk and some knifemaking himself, we simply have to meet again some day for a hammer - In! I got a steak there (Thanks, Björn, I am not sure I deserve it;-)SCHWARZDORN!!!)
This is a dirty girl... Heike, to be precise, after she finished 2nd place in the SENIOR WOMEN II *GGG* category. Here, she is being not amused that I am making fun of her old age...*ggg*
Party on! I met with Björn, and we had a chat that made my day.. SCHWARZDORN!!!!!
Finally, some decent food again... man, I drank like a bucket of coffee and ate three pieces of cake, it was that good!
This is the logo I once (long ago, in 1999) drew on a handkerchief when I was drunk as shit. The club being called "Zee Aylienz" I adapted this design from an older sketch... the laughing matter is that this sketch was intended to be for a campaign of "vikings against fascism", and there was a Nordic warrior cliché depicted with a huge broadaxe (winged helmet and bronze age sword and all;-)) standing over a pile of tiny severed heads with swastikas tattoed on, with the severed head of Adolf Hitler on top. The heads (they were tiny heads, did I mention*ggg*) were drawn like the alien skull to make them more demon-like. It´s a constant laughing matter and a queer joke that in the past, when I was still second chairman, there were some individuals with tiny heads doing the old "we are better than anyone else, we are aylienz" stunt and acting the Gestapo with people who did not join the club... not so funny then, but, in retrospective, a reason I might laugh on my last bier still about that. Nothing wrong with symbols, nothing wrong with caring for each other, but I hope to have contributed with that tale to a sense of awareness that the club´s not the only one in the world and a reminder to be careful.
A lot of flaming jerseys frequented the podium... er... is that Max?

Merlin finished 2nd on the podium, and to be true, Heike somehow belongs to the team, too, for even if she rode in a MBC Bochum jersey, she started as an Aylien... and you don´t become an Aylien. You are one.

Pardon me, did that guy not state he was against dogmatism and symbolic cult but some lines ago?

It has something to do with some finer points. It does not make you a better person. As mountainbikers, we have a rare opportunity. As one advertisment in 1990 read "Those who said you can´t run away from your problems obviously weren´t going fast enough". I remember a Yeti ad saying "Faster and faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death". Mountainbiking as a sport is but a surrogative activity, and as such serves a civilizational purpose. But there is more to it. Many riders experience a soothing and healing effect when riding out into the woods, or even a race or some extreme stunts. Your problems are still there, but if you do not live the moment, i.e. if you are not alert all of the time, if you don´t pay attention, you might die. You have to pay attention to your bike, to your body, to your performance.

But this is merely the step towards the real thing. If you have got your technicals and your technique wired, if your body is trained, you develop a very special mindset, and this mindset might give you the opportunity to experience a very unique psychological condition, namely the flow experience. My long years of research towards that topic hint towards a connection between the concepts of flow, satori, kairos/metakairos, and the concept of Awen (poetic inspiration in the Welsh tradition, and also found in the manuscript "The cauldron of poesy"). That is not to say, they are all the same, and a mountainbiker certainly will not always be a druid, although I know some druids that ride mountainbikes. What I say is, that the experience is based on similar psychophysiological matters, and it must suffice for now that it is something special and unique. You cannot quite talk intelligently about it. Either you experience it or you do not. If you do, you might use it for your own benefit. How you do that, is your business. But I have the feeling that many members of this club have that feeling, and some of them recently felt like joining hands with their fellows to create something great and unique. And since it comes out of the flow experience they all have experienced in one way or the other, and, most important, any act of creation is an act of inspiration in the first, and creating this club is a constant process, that makes it something special, and that makes the people involved special. It might be just that they feel responsible and aware. They are freaks, of course, and we do not always agree. Some of them have tiny heads.

Some of them are focused, some of them are narrow-minded, some of them are morons, and in that this club is nothing special. But they create something beautiful by riding a race and having a beer afterwards. For that, I have to say "thank you!".

Now back to that murder attempt. I counsilled Dirk to press charges against unbeknownst for murder conduct, but how realistic is that the police will even take any action? Those were just some sticks in the woods. But there´s something else we can do. By closing shoulders with the clubs and mountainbikers and shop owners in the region, by hard work and obeying the IMBA rules voluntarily, by keeping in contact with the forest bureaus, we can better the image of mountainbikers in general, and, let´s be honest, the bad image we got is not given utterly without cause. We can use our unity and our harmony against the violence. Then those lunatics will at least not claim a victim. And the race and, more important to me, the festival can still take place. As a meeting place for people in peace, not in civil war.

For more photos, look here!

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