BICYCLES AND OFF ROAD MOTORCYCLES

Many off road motorcyclists ride a bicycle to keep in shape and to augment off road and on road riding skills, but mostly because it is fun. Riding bicycles is enjoyable because it is outdoor physical exercise but it can’t compare with riding off road motorcycles.

While riding at Carnegie I can’t help noticing that everybody has a great big smile on their faces. It doesn’t matter what age they are, young and old, their expressions of happiness can’t be hidden, not  even behind their full coverage helmets. It gives me a feeling of kinship because I also have a big  grin on my face. I can’t help it. Riding my off road motorcycle is just so much fun.

We are all having way too much fun and it is noticeable even to non-motorcyclists. Such feelings of joy can be contagious. My friend was at Carnegie the other day and said  that she noticed that everybody seemed to be having a really good time.  She doesn’t ride and usually goes to Carnegie to hang out with her friends.  She remarked on the fact that we all had big smiles on our faces as we rode past.

She asked me if there was an easy way to get to the top of the hill and whether I would take her there on her son’s XR-80. I agreed to take her around the back way. This proves that fun is infectious. Normally she would rather do housework or just about anything other than riding motorcycles, but the joy of off road recreation is communicable and refutes the general rules of human behavior.

The other day I met a friend who had come in from a ride, and he had just taken off his helmet and goggles. His hair was messed up and matted with sweat and his face was covered in dust, but his eyes were beaming and he was clearly beside himself with joy.

Then I noticed that his jersey was ripped from shoulder to wrist and there was a big bloody gash on his forearm. He didn’t seem to notice. He kept telling me that he couldn’t get over how well his bike was working and then went on to explain what he had done to it to make it run so well. His enthusiasm is endemic on a good weekend at Carnegie.

A few years ago my buddy and I used to ride every weekend at Carnegie even in the hottest and driest of summer days. We would jokingly remark that we were having so much fun that it should be illegal , not imagining that someday our words would be prophetic.

It was just a joke, but for Friends of Tesla destroying public off-road family fun is a very serious and almost full time pursuit. They are modern Puritans using an extreme conception of protecting the environment in a semi-arid region to ruin other peoples’ fun.

They impose their extremist views on some of the more gullible and easily brainwashed elites and wanna be elites by using the internet, the media and their extensive political connections. These so called “environmentalists” will not be satisfied until we are all riding on modern  asphalt highways (littered with road kill) rather than on our crude dirt trails.

Getting back to bicycles: A lot of  people ride bikes for transportation and leisure, but some of them fancy themselves as bicycle racers and they take themselves very seriously. You seldom see them smiling. These guys have a grim, tense expression on their faces which speaks more of extreme physical exertion than big fun. This is especially true when vying for position in a bike race surrounded by other fit looking athletes.

According to the bicycle magazines suffering is good. The experts encourage us to do painful intervals. Intervals are a good way of gaining fitness and VO-2 max but it is seldom fun.  That is unless your idea of enjoyment is getting faster than your buddies and/or winning races. The pay off is not immediate.

Very few of us can ride without it turning into a competition whether we are on motorcycles or bicycles. It is inherent in human nature to want to prove that we are better or faster than our companions. We like to show off. That is why we suffer to get faster and why it is fun when the suffering builds up our fitness and strength.

For most off road motorcyclists enjoyment is mostly about impressing (or trying to impress) our companions. Can they follow us through a tight, difficult section, over a log or up and then down a steep, gnarly hillside? Fun is the challenge of finding difficult terrain and riding it. It is exciting to find new challenges.

We can’t forget the joy of riding the motocross track; whether laying the bike over in a brake slide and then exploding the berm with the throttle or getting really big air over a horrendous double. Nothing can compare with going fast through whoops, ruts, berms and over tricky jumps. The nice thing about a motocross track is that you can’t get too complacent because nothing stays the same. The line that worked one time doesn’t always work on the next lap.

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It isn’t always about being the fastest or the best rider. It is about trying new things and mastering new techniques. Maybe that is why motorcyclists have such big smiles on their faces. Sometimes the grins last all through the week until the next weekend.

Bicycle riders love their machines in the same way that motorcyclists love their bikes. The bicycle manufacturers and magazines take advantage of the bicyclists’ need for speed. Fancy carbon fiber, sleek aerodynamic bicycles are sold for astronomical prices because cyclists will do almost anything to get an edge on their companions, sometimes even if that means going broke and/or breaking up with their significant other.

But think about it. Bicycles are propelled by legs, hearts and lungs and no amount of high tech trickery is going to make an unfit rider beat a rider who has reached the top of his or her form.

Fitness is just as important or even more important for off road motorcycle racing and they say that best way to get fit is by racing. That is why top cross country and motocross racers ride hard and work out at the gym. Some of them also ride their bicycles for fitness.

Even though no expense is spared in research and design (R&D) at the track, motorcycles are less expensive than some of their human powered cousins. To my way of thinking this is a conundrum, except just think of how expensive motorcycles would be if they were made of carbon fiber (and only weighed seventy or eighty pounds).

Currently there is a proliferation of electric assist bikes made to look like a normal pedal powered bicycles. The designers are getting adept at hiding the electric motor and batteries inside the frames. Is it wrong to ride electric powered bicycles outside of sanctioned races?

Say you are on a Saturday morning ride. It can be very demoralizing when you are huffing and puffing to get up a steep, long hill climb and you are overtaken by a fat out of shape bicyclist who hardly seems to be breaking into a sweat as he pedals past you.

This is probably a ruse by bike manufacturers to sell expensive race bikes to unsuspecting buyers who don’t realize that they are being passed by bicycles propelled by hidden electric motors. It isn’t a tough sell to market electric assist bikes to the unfit and out of shape who have no interest in using the bicycle as a training tool, but who want to impress their friends. Hopefully most of them are being sold to people just interested in using them for basic transportation.

It is evident that they aren’t selling them to riders who ride during the week for training and then race off road motorcycles on the weekends.

What is that… You would rather go to the gym where you can get a good upper body workout? But riding a bicycle is much more fun than pushing weights at a gym. That is unless you’re going to there mainly to look at the babes. Then its a toss up.

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