What happened? What the heck was that? Am I daydreaming? It happens to everyone, you’re cruising along, feeling good, thinking you’re pretty dang fast, when some random dude in jeans on a crap bike blows by you like you’re standing still.
That’s the thing with riding bikes on both the tarmac and the dirt, it can be pretty tricky to tell who’s got the biggest motor, most skill or deepest bag of tricks.
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In the road world, we’ve all seen that rider. The rider with the latest, greatest carbon superbike, decked out in the fanciest kit and looking every bit the part.
Surely they’ve got the go-fast power to lead the group or put the hurt on you for trying to hold their wheel. There’s a good chance they can match the go with show, but not always.
On the mountain bike side, there’s the whippet thin, full-on dirt roadie in a skinsuit who looks like they probably levitate up climbs.
Or the matching kit, black socks halfway up the shins, knee pads poking down just the right length and goggles on a open face helmet enduro bro who certainly gaps every trail feature and descends like Sam Hill. Except he might spend more time next to his lifted truck strutting about the parking lot than actually on the trail.
And at the trails (aka: dirt jumps), just forget it, all bets are off.
There’s no rhyme or reason to who’s going to boost the highest or bust out the most banging trick. Old dude, young kid, it’s anyone’s guess who the trail boss is. The rider with the barely functioning bike, with clothes that make a hobo wince, they’re probably the rider just a few web edits away from getting a Red Bull helmet.
But then, there’s the disheveled rider with the lifeless-looking legs, baggy cotton shirt and possibly reeking of booze, likely from the night before, hopefully not from this morning. You can surely crush them, they look a mess, and their bike squeals with neglect on every pedal stroke.
Here’s where it pays to be careful or at least respectful.
While fewer in quantity than the decked-out, genre-defining examples above, the I-don’t-give-a-damn hammerhead can only be recognized when actually riding.
You likely won’t find them at the coffeeshop beforehand, or getting beers afterwards, or prancing around the car park at the trailhead (they only ride to trails).
That’s the thing with cycling. It doesn’t matter what your legs look like and it rarely matters how old or outdated your bike is.
It’s wise to respect all riders because you never know who’s faster than you. Be mindful of this, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is definitely apt in cycling.