How Do You Rock When You Roll?
Last week B-Man asked me to play Spider Man guys with him. I said sure, but wanted to put some music on the hi-fi while we played. He agreed and said "you love music don't you daddy?" I said yes of course. Then he says "You love bike racing and music the most in the world huh, which one do you love most?" I said "Well I love YOU and mommy the most, but after that, I like riding and racing my bike the best. Then music." I then fired up the iPod, the music went on and Spider Man and Green Goblin had a serious throw down on the living room floor as we listened to some tunes by The Wombats. They're one of B-Man's faves ("Metro" and "School Uniforms"). Not sure what that says about me that my 4 year old boy digs the music I listen to. He's either REALLY hip or I'm REALLY lame. Please don't answer that!
Later on I started thinking about the two "loves" (bike racing and music) and started to see some similarities with the two in the form of types racers or riders. I decided to make a list using some broad stereotypes and this is what I came up with in no particular order....
1. The Beginner- The beginner mountain bike racer or rider is similar to the kid JUST getting into music. His music collection is pretty basic and is all over the place. He's not sure whether to listen to what everyone else is listening to or what he really wants to listen to. So he might have some heinous Third Eye Blind right beside some old Pavement his hipster brother has. He might have even picked up a cheap Wal-Mart electric guitar that his Camaro driving uncle taught him to play a few chords of "Smoke On The Water" on. The beginner is just starting. Treat them well and guide them on the trails. Also, please tell them to start listening to more of their brother's music and stop hanging around with his burn out uncle.
2. The Local Neo Pro Level/Elite Racer- This racer is like the dude that plays guitar in a local hair metal band. The focus is on musical ability, rocking and scoring with tarted up too tan club girls! Big hair, big guitar solos, notes galore, maybe some leather pants. They'll only play the best guitars and amps that money can buy. EVEN if it means pimping out their girl friend or selling their uncle's Camaro unbeknownst to him. In racer terms they are all about performance and winning. They want the lightest bike that their credit card can buy, refuse to pay retail for anything, and never met a sponsor they didn't like. They rarely hang out with girls, will work, but only in bike shops so they can a discount and for the opportunity to talk down to The Beginner. Indie rock, punks and alterna-kids need not apply. They mean well and of course aim to be a pro someday. Often they are just XC freaks of nature. I admire them in many ways. In other ways- not so much. For some racers, this is just a phase. For others it becomes a way of life. The next thing they know, they're 40 years old, living in their parent's basement, doing nothing but looking at some old race trophies and listening to White Snake CDs. For a precious few this phase will end early and they will one day be PRO (see #5 or will be happy being a #3).
3. The Expert Level/Elite Racer Who MAY Or May NOT Race- These are the Punk/Indie rock bands of racing. They usually have little, few or no sponsors (record label) and don't care if they do. They can woop every one's ass on the race course or local group ride and you never here a cocky peep from them. They will kick your ass on a $200 frame, $3000 dollar frame, single speed, 1x9, 2x9, fixie, full geared whatever it takes. They enjoy beer (usually Miller High Life or Pabst before/during/after a ride or race) but they can also appreciate a fine Belgian beer or craft brew come Cross season or when finances allow. Fat Marc, Buddy and their eastern PA/DE/MD peeps come to mind here. Dicky (Rich Dillen) comes close, but his love of bad beer ALL the time and hair metal disqualifies him. Plus Rich talks some serious smack (although be it funny and light hearted) Still, I'm sorry Dicky, you are in a class by yourself. Congrats.
4. The Content Expert Level Racer/Talented Sport Racer/Rider- These riders often have no hope of being a #2 or #5. This is a fine line and much akin to the indie band that signs to a major label. The indie kids think he/she sold out and the hair metal guitarist dude thinks that they have no right being on a major label to begin with. They are talented, but still have a lot of creative license. In racing terms- these folks can hang with the Elites for a few miles (or feet if you're me). They race when, where and how they want. Mostly by choice, but sometimes because they've used up all "three chords worth" of racing talent. They have jobs, family, and commitments beyond racing. They may have sponsors, but make no money. They are happy just to get some free tires or a frame at or below cost. These folks are usually hooked up with folks or shops they really like, thus making no compromises. They are kinda of like Sonic Youth or Pavement. They make/made some kick ass music, enjoyed some time on major labels, don't make any real money, and 90% of the American music buying public has never heard of them. They are also a lot like indie music fans. They can tell you about a Superchunk 7" they bought in 1989, but not be able to play one note of "Slack Mother F*cker" themselves. In bike terms it could also be the bike geek/racer geek. #4 is the genre I sort of hover around on a good day when all the stars and planets are aligned. And I gotta tell you being a Pavement (#4) can be much sweeter than being a Warrant or Poison.
5. The PRO Pro- The PRO pro is sort of like Modest Mouse. You did your time playing in shit clubs to 10 people all over the world and you now cherish your time in the big leagues. But will be fine with going back to playing to those 10 people again when your time at the top is done. In PRO bike terms this would be someone the likes of Adam Craig. Adam is PRO. He knows how to win, and how to lose. He loves the racing, but still knows how to not take the whole thing too seriously. He's professional, works with his sponsors and you can imagine that when he's done being a PRO, Olympian, etc., he'll still enjoy riding and racing his bike or drinking some beers, and maybe listening to some Modest Mouse after a day of white water kayaking. He's living the PRO life.
There are a ton of other racer/music types that I could expand on too. I mean you have the Herb Loving Hippy Rider/Racer with the dreads, patchouli oil and Phish tapes. The Angry Messenger Guy with his collection of hard core and vintage Minor Threat vinyl. The Roadies with their satellite radio tuned to whatever it is that roadies like to listen to. Seriously, what do roadies listen to? I'm sure the Euro's are listening to some Kraftwerk of Daft Punk. Or some French house music that would surely suck if it was being played anywhere else but on the iPod of some Euro Road Dog's iPod as the warms up for a time trial thinking about when his next drug testing is, and what his chances of passing are. For some reason I get a real Dave Mathews Band vibe from the U.S. road scene. Sort of that "safe" "gray" area of music.
There are a ton of sub genres and cross genre breeding and exceptions that I just don't have the fingers to type. In the end this is of course is all in jest. To each their own. The thing I love most about the cycling community, at least amongst the Enduro freaks and riders that I know, is that no one really gives a shit about anything other than the fact that we're all on bikes. Respect the bike and respect your fellow racers and riders. Ride your ride, race your race, listen to what you want and have fun on your bike. You get two wheels and one life. Don't waste it.
Later. I have to charge my iPod.
P.S. In #5 the term PRO is used. This term was stolen right from the pages of Belgium Knee Warmers. Radio Freddy has done and does it all. Mountain, Cross, and Road. I know what kind of music he likes, and it ain't shit. He gave us PRO. Learn it. Know it. Live it. Thanks Radio Freddy!