Ok, so you all know how things should be. There are enough magazine articles telling us what to eat, what to drink and how to train. We’ve been preached at about the threat to our sport from excessive noise, and warned about the dangers of poisonous substances. You all obviously know that it’s important to be a fair and honourable competitor, that it’s not winning that counts, just taking part. Oh and being a mature, responsible rider following the Country Code is always going to be top of the list. Blah blah, yadda yadda, play another record …
Because despite all this goody two-shoes, worthy stuff, we all know that there’s a dark side. Things that you can’t really mention, that you might not share with your bezzies. Like enjoying watching pensioners fall over in the snow or secretly reading your girlfriend’s copy of those celebrity magazines – these are the guilty Pleasures of Dirt biking ….
1.The Smell of Petrol
If you started riding bikes as a kid, then the heady smell of Saudi Arabia’s finest is imprinted into your body as strongly as your Nan’s perfume. We know it’s got all kind of noxious chemicals in it , the petrol, not the perfume, and we probably should be wearing a mask every time we fill up the fuel tank, but we can’t help loving the waft of those evil solvents. Like the proverbial ‘jumpers for goalposts’, the smell of petrol goes back to school days, Schoolboy championships and Castrol R. Just a hint of unleaded brings back long summer holidays spent randomly incinerating Airfix models, blowing up biscuits tins and setting fire to the hedge – happy times….
2. Mud Slinging
Off-road motorcycling is a messy hobby at the best of times – there’s something uniquely enjoyable and typically boyish about having the excuse to mess about and get filthy at the weekend. OK so summer riding is much less hassle, and apart from clogging up your air box, dust is infinitely easier to clean off the bike. But dry tracks deny one particular selfish pleasure – roosting a ton of crap onto your mates or even spectators . Initially looking like you’ve just taken a wide line by accident, the act of nailing the throttle on sloppy mud to leave a fantastic arc of roost heading towards your riding mates is particularly satisfying. And if they are on a new bike and in new kit, double bonus. Just expect it to come back to you when you are least expecting it, and they might have found the manure pile …
3. Showing Off
Dirtbiking is a sport for Show Offs – no question about it. Taken out of context, the clothes we all feel so cool in on the bike and at the track and on the trail look gaudy and stupid in any other environment. If you’re in any doubt – go into any city centre pub on a Saturday night in your race gear – feel cool now? Retro Pink gear looking good at the bar is it ? We think not
But once back on the dirt, riding bikes is the coolest sport in the world. And showing off to pedestrians goes with the territory – who can resist a pulling a monster wheelie as you pass the roadside totty? Throwing a whip when your mates can barely get their bikes off the ground – got to be done. Of course the downside to this is that is that when you get it wrong, you will feel lower than a slug’s ankle. Looping your box fresh metal in front a strategically placed GoPro is not a good look – it’ll be on You Tube in hours
4. Loud and Proud
Like trying to squeeze a stubborn spot half an hour before a hot date, or fancying your mate’s daughter, we all know that loud pipes are wrong, diddly wrong, wrong. They’re anti-social, selfish and destined to kill our sport – understood. But why then does blasting along with a full-on race pipe feel soooo good? And twin pipes – don’t even go there – we’ve gone weak.
How can revving a bike that sends out exhaust pulses strong enough to knock over a small horse be so right? The answer is embedded in the genes of our DNA and although we can suppress the urge, it simmers away, threatening to bubble to the surface at any moment. The aftermarket guys know this, tapping into our subconscious at a level we cannot resist – they could sell them on noise alone, but the promise of a massive 2% more power is ….just ….. too …. much …..to …..resist…….
5.Scream and Go
This is one for racing only, but nonetheless the judicious use of the voice on the track can be extremely satisfying. All the performance parts in the world can’t replace the overtaking potential of shouting really loud at your fellow competitors to get round them. The problem is that most riders get into a bubble of concentration, not really expecting to hear someone’s voice.
So when a scream of ‘GET OUT THE FRICKIN WAY’ suddenly explodes in their ear, it’s hard not to been thrown off guard, and in that instant, you’ve passed them, used their front wheel as a berm and headed into the distance – perfect!
Advanced ‘Scream & Go’ can be used for club riders who are vain enough to have their names on their race shirts. Simply shout out the name, they look round expecting to see someone they know, the pass is done and you’ve just gained a place – genius.
6. Soldier Down
In an ideal world, we’d all have similar abilities on our bikes and everybody in the club would all be nice balanced people. Yet the reality is that there is a massive range of riders with varying skills on their bikes, just as there is a fair proportion of complete tools that you end up riding with.
You know the one – everybody is waiting at the bottom of a tricky climb for the less experienced riders to pick up their bikes and sort themselves out. Out of nowhere, the pushy rider decides he’s had enough and is going to blast past the lot of them. So it’s a complete joy when they screw up big time, and smash into a rock step. And if their bike loops out and heads deep into the hedge – all the better. The Germans have a word for it – Schadenfruede.
7. Bog Survival
Mother Nature can be a sadistic little woman. She thinks nothing of preserving your factory replica race pants; she isn’t bothered about how much you fry your clutch or just how long it takes you to jet wash your bike when you get home. So that’s why she ensures that on most trail rides there is an innocent looking section that conceals a bottomless morass of slurry and poo. You don’t know it’s there until you are on top of it and then whether you survive is a complete lottery.
Consequently, there is nothing better than finding a line through the crap whilst riders others are stuck. There’s no honour in a bog, it’s everyman for himself, so their pain is your joy. In fact, that brings us to…
8. Traction Action
OK – ‘fess up and admit you’ve done this. If you are in the lucky position of having an ounce of momentum left while others around you are ‘munching trail’, then you’ll run over anything to maintain traction and keep going. Over someone’s wheels, no worries, straight across the top of the bike – a twinge of guilt perhaps, but it soon fades once you are out of the trouble spot. Even riders feet aren’t safe – if it’s on your line and harder than the mud – its fair game and you’ll use it. From bogs to snotty hills, river crossings to monster ruts, keeping forward motion is far more important than any notion of fair play – sorry.
9. Winning for the Old Skool
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the guy with the brand new bike being totally owned by they guy on the nail? Watching the flash git with a grands worth of bling factory parts and carbon fibre goodies unable to make it up a tricky climb when the twenty year old bike is already parked up at the top .
It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to see the obnoxious rider from another club with the ‘oh so conspicuously endless budget’ kicking away at an uncooperative bike for quarter of an hour in the pits, before the walk of shame back to his pimped out Vito – wonderful. And if that same van also happens to be stuck in the mud – who can doubt that there is a supreme being?
10. The Dirty Burger
So when you’ve finished your riding for the day, the sensible thing to do would be to have a nutritionally balanced snack and a scientifically prepared hypertonic drink to help replenish your bodies vital resources and replace lost electrolytes. OK – like that’s ever going to happen if there’s a burger van in a ten mile radius.
There’s a world of pleasure wrapped up within a massive dirty burger with all the trimmings – no salad or gherkins please, just bacon, cheese, mayo, ketchup – get in. And for a bit of a fiery twist to wash it down, maybe a cheeky can of Ginger Beer? The food of champions!
So Embrace your Guilty Pleasures, revel in the Dark Side, comfortable in the knowledge that you are not alone!
If you have anything to add to our list, then please let us know your comments below. …
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