Clive Forth's Opposite Pedal: Tales from the Trails - Bike Magic

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Clive Forth’s Opposite Pedal: Tales from the Trails

Welcome to The Opposite Pedal, the ramblings of a man who’s spent too many hours alone on the trail. Z – A mumblings on mountain biking life and language.

This week we go geek chic and look at the terminology of Tech.

tech |tek|(Brit. also tec )

noun informal

technology. See also high-tech, low-tech.

• a technician.

• Basketballa technical.

Exposure and surface makes this relatively trail treacherous, is it tech though?

Tech, techy, technology. In the mountain bike world these things are all around us. From techy trails to technical clothing to help keep the elements out. Not forgetting technological developments to help make it easier to ride those techy trails.

Then there are the funky gadgets to keep you entertained when the legs are spent and you no longer have the energy to ride the most wonderful technological energy efficient machine mankind has created.

But with all these wonderful advancements is there a downside or trade off? Not wanting to open up the wheel debate can of worms or ongoing “Strava ruined my trails” chatter, but are bigger hoops really that advantageous and does it really matter how much faster you are than your mate Dave?

Severity of surface, sustained gradient and exposure. All considerations to be taken into account when the “tech-o-meter” comes out.

What ever happened to finding a more challenging line on that seemingly simple section of trail and riding with style I wonder? I also wonder how many of us actually take technology anywhere near to its limits? Does the technology get in the way and become the focus thus leaving us less time to savour those technical trails?

Technical trail?

Which leads me on quite nicely to the debate of what constitutes technical trail? Sometimes I see a huge level of skill and technical ability being demonstrated in what many would say is very simple non-technical terrain. On the flip side a section that has perceived technicality (i.e. penalty for failure) I would see as less technical and relatively easy. I hasten to ad that there is a sliding scale to what I perceive to be technical.

Let me try to explain my definition of a technical section of trail:

– The trail surface presents difficulty with regard to slips, slides, stalling and hanging up, to which effect the rider would not be able to ride the section without “dabbing”.

– A section of trail where wheel placement combined with speed control have to be so very precise and synchronized intimately with your footwork and body positions in order to “clean” the section with ease and grace.

In such sections and trails the margins for error of the above mentioned are minimal.

With winter on the way an easy section of trail becomes more technically challenging.

To define a trail as technical

For a whole trail to be considered as technical then the above factors must be present and sustained for the majority of its length.

Another consideration to my sliding scale is relativity; I look at trail with a “in the grand scheme of things” attitude. Having ridden some pretty hairy sections over the years my perception has somewhat shifted, from that six-year-old boy riding his Raleigh Striker in the garden on a jump made from soil to being a larger child of 38 riding trails on a daily basis in the Alps.

The more exposure we get and the broader our trail experiences become we arrive at a place where relativity prevails. Given time you will find that section of trail once perceived as technical, easy. Likewise that amazing GPS navigation device will seem like just an advanced cycle computer.

I look back at my 1990s downhill race bike as a premium example; in its day the thing was incredible, better than sliced bread, now though it would be considered less capable than today’s most basic trail bike.

As technology supersedes its predecessor let us not get lost in the details. We must not forget that they are all “tools” that enable us to get out in the great outdoors and enjoy the simple art of motion. Man (and woman), machine and Mother Nature working in harmony.

Until next time, keep it simple and enjoy.

Clive Forth. MTBSkills, Transition Bikes.

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