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SKILL AS APPLIED TO THE MODERN mountain biking experience, tends to be thought of as a matter of reflex and bravery-especially as the defined edge of what we deem possible on a bike keeps getting pushed outward in all directions. How hard a rider can crank into a turn, how smoothly that rider can float over a rock garden before a series of step-downs and drops, how much aerial maneuvering can take place between takeoff and landing.
Speaking entirely for myself—lining up what I can and cannot do against what the most grace ful athletes in this sport do with ease can make a man bitter. Fortunately, speaking entirely for myself, I shut that kind of comparative thinking straight down, and instead content myself with considering the scope of my own abilities and how they manage to fluctuate from embarrassing to almost half-competent and back with predictable, seasonal regularity.
Nowhere does this fluctuation between almost grace and clubfooted misery show up more than in the most invisible skill of all. My spin. People don't ever strut or brag about their spin, especially in the current Zeitgeist of hucking one's baggy-clad carcass loosely into space. Spinning is for people who can't really throw down. Except, it's not. Because sooner or later you have to climb a hill, or chase down that dickwad who just elbowed you off your line, and at those times, a good spin is a godsend. A spin, one nicely honed by years of pedaling, polished smooth by mileage the way a rock gets caressed round by a flowing river, is the secret weapon that allows people who "haven't been riding in months" to rip your legs off nght when you think you're the toughest cowboy at the rodeo. A good spin is what enables that crusty beggar-looking guy on the old Giant Iguana with a baby seat to ride you off his wheel on your cross-town commute. No amount of justification can make that feel any better, especially if you happened to be riding a road bike with an Italian name. A good spin-stay with me here-is the only way you're going to survive with an 8-inch-travel bike, flat pedals and no access to chairlifts or shuttle trucks (for the sake of brevity, we will refrain here from getting into why the hell anyone would choose something like this as their only bike if they didn't have either a ski resort or a fleet of trucks readily accessible], because the only thing nature abhors more than a vacuum is some square-pedaling chump in a pair of untied 5.10s on an 8-inch bike trying to ride up a gentle grade.
My ability to turn the pedals with any degree of fluidity has become entirely dependent on the season. Admittedly, I didn't do myself any favors when I was young. Instead of taking the advice of smoother elders who suggested that time spent paying attention to turning circles with my feet would be a skill that would serve me well decades down the line, I derailed myself by playing to the one strong suit I had in my genetic deck of cards. I was kind of blocky and could stomp a big gear. So I did that, a lot. And. as such, ended up being a mostly bow-legged square-pedaling chump. At least I kept my shoes lied.
Now. with the guilt-free smugness of someone who can cop to his own blind spots, I can admit without shame that I've read every issue of Bicycling where there was some cover blurb like "Spin
058 bikemag.com photo: ryan creary
Blackburn Mammoth 2Stage
0 Massive high volume barrel designed for today's bigger, fatter tires
B- All aluminum construction
(3 Unique two-chamber design moves more air per stroke than other pumps of the same size.
0 Two stage internals: High Volume to fill fast, and High Pressure to reduce effort
E) TwistGrip III Locking Presta/Schrader head
□ Rids the world of pinch flats
The Blackburn Mammoth 2Stage. Everything you could reasonably want in a minipump.
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