Dienstag, 25. Juni 2013
Ruhr Bike Festival 2013 - Bushwhacking, murder attempts and plain old fun
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?;-)
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.
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 club..www.zee-aylienz.de..
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...;-)
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;-).
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.
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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