The Slow Spoke is a place where I put my thoughts to words and hopefully some will read them. Since I'm a major bike geek most entries will be bike related but, not always. I'm also guilty of thinking far too much so you never know what the topic will be. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Air Time......

Bikes in the air........I'm a fan! I'm a fan of looking at bikes in the air. I'm a fan of flying bikes in the air too. But, after some thought, it became apparent that I'm a fan of anything flying in the air that is "supposed" to be planted firmly on the ground so, naturally, it got me thinking............ Why is that?

Well, I think that maybe, it's the Duke Boys' fault.

As a kid, I used to get insanely hyped and would do ANYTHING not to miss my Dukes Of Hazzard. It was the ultimate weapon in the threat game coming from my parents, and they knew it. Do something wrong, and the Dukes are out! I had cars, PJ's, shirts, posters, you name it. I was hardcore. Why? 'Cause to a kid, they were like gods. They got the girls, they kicked ass, they had bow and arrows! Some of those arrows even exploded!!! They had a crazy fast car and, the best part, they jumped that thing!

The Boys didn't do little jumps either. Noooo, noo, no. They meant business. They jumped cars, creeks, trains, construction crews, even a barn in one episode for Christ sakes! How could a kid NOT think the were gods.

I often wondered why my dad never jumped the tracks by our place or why he didn't crash through road blocks and jump the traffic jams so we could get to where we were headed in better time. WTF??

Around the same time I was into BMX and would spend an awful lot of time ripping it up with my friends and cousin Jesse jumping around. BMX Plus magazine was the print of choice and my mom an dad were cool enough to get me subscriptions every year at Christmas. I would leaf through reading every page and dream of flying around looking as cool as all the pros.......

I can assure you though. Despite my thousands of jumps on BMX - none looked as good.

Soon after, I took a hiatus from the bike world. I spent the next 12 years as a hardcore skater. I lived, breathed, and bled skating. It was everything and, to this day, even as a cyclist, you can still find me rolling around on one now and again. In the day, my subconscious obsession with gravity defiance was still strong though and my board and I spent almost as much time off the ground as we did on because, once again, of sick pics like this.

Mark Gonzales. Any skater worth their salt knew/knows this man as a true skater and a pure legend to the sport. Not mainly due to his skill or style (not that he didn't overflow with both) but because of how true he was to the sport, still today. He approached it differently than any other pro out there and I respect him to no end when it comes to skating. He IS skateboarding. He IS another god...

Anyway, fast forward through several years, a blown out knee (skating and a mini-ramp catastrophe) and part way through college and I'm back to 2 wheels. I'm riding mountain bikes. I'm an XC guy and there is some jumping involved but I feel my eagerness waning. I still leave the ground on occasion if the need arrises, I have no problem with that, but, don't go out of my way looking for a juicy launch point.

I LOVE watching WRC and still LOVE to see cars flying around.......

The cool thing about WRC though is that it's real! The cars stay together and keep right on racing. The drivers are incredible and even to non-racing fans, it's incredibly entertaining.

Sometimes however, they're in the air for other reasons........LOL

That's what happens when the driver hears "4 right, opens" instead of "4 right, tightens". No worries though, driver and co-driver walked away unhurt as they do 99.9999% of the time.

Yeah, cars in the air.....

Even a couple of years ago I was blown away AND impressed by these dudes and their backyard jump.
Never in a million years could I have done one so stylish and hilarious.

Come on, seriously, if you're watching this, thinking back to the days when you were young with pretty well no responsibility, tell me this isn't something you would LOVE to have been a part of. This is hysterical! It's one of those "remember when" moments! It's awesome! It's inspiring. Inspiring to the point that a friend and I had planned to do something similar (and this is just a few years ago) with my Golf GTI had I not gotten a good price for it when I sold it. We were PUMPED!! Our wives thought we were being ridiculous; we thought we'd be heroes!! The car was 11 years old at the time and was well worn but, alas, I got some good cash so the plan fell through..... :-(


So, if i've managed to hold your attention and you've read this far, you're probably wondering what the hell I'm on about and why I'm wasting your time like this. Well, truthfully, I'm not even totally sure myself but there was a trigger for my rambling thoughts: that's for sure. That trigger was Zdeněk Stybar.

"What/who the faulk is Zdeněk Stybar????" is what most of you are probably thinking. Well, let me start with the trigger.....

Zdeněk Stybar is another inspirational character. Inspirational enough in many ways far more important than this little blog entry but also IS the inspiration for this little entry.

Zdeněk Stybar: Cyclocross World Champion, 70 victories (at the time of this post) and counting. In a nutshell - fast as faulk!

I spotted the pic above on the web at some point and it triggered all those old thoughts and feelings of when I was a kid leafing through BMX Plus, Thrasher or Transworld Skateboarding magazines. The dude is rockin' the course so hard and flyin' (literally) while WEARING the rainbow jersey. Come on........many sit up once they're in the jersey (and blame it on that old "curse") but the brother is putting it down! After the photo was put out there not long ago he was questioned about it, in broken English, he was quoted as saying, "I love to jump. I like it." and there you have it. That pic, the man representing that jersey and those words; the trigger.

He's not lying about liking his jumps :-) Here again at another time and another place.

He's becoming known for it......

It all got me thinking: again. What was the big deal really. I mean, it's not like there aren't a billion people jumping dirt jumps around the globe doing tail-whips and backflips and all that. For years there have been people everywhere hucking insane drops and man-made obstacles.........Jesus, THAT'S spread like a rash. Why was it that this particular photo was the one that I was so impressed with? But, then, it dawned on me.

It's the cross bike! Once again, we're back to something that, at least for the most part, is planted on the ground and not often seen flying through the air. At least not like THIS. I know, I know. The bikes can and do take a beating with all the dismounting, lifting, jumping back on, hopping of barriers, mud, sand, rough terrain blah, blah, blah, and I know they do jump them on occasion......I know what cyclocross is. In this pic though, not only is he off the ground, but he's styling it up! Much like in the good old days when I was a kid reading BMX Plus.

He's not only doing his job (as a pro) and racing competitively, but he is taking the time (during races even) and styling it up for the cameras too. Seriously, if you were sponsoring this cat, wouldn't you give him a big hug even if he didn't finish on the podium? He's blasted the sponsor's name straight into the limelight just by being "rad". The fact that it's a cross bike just adds to it. You really don't see guys looking so good on cross bikes most of the time and to most, at least here in North America, who don't even know what a cross bike is, they think they're jumping road bikes.

Before anyone bashes me here I want to say that I am in no way knocking the other competitors or ANY cyclocrosser in any way. All have amazing skill in doing what they do. I'm always impressed to no end by it all and enjoy the sport immensely. All I'm saying is that most are focussed on the task at hand - which is racing and trying to win - but to some CX'ers, this "style" thing comes naturally, and it makes it all the more impressive.

A cross bike in the air - it's a thing of beauty. Rarely seen in this way.

Here is another example......the rider is unknown to me but, once again, freaking cool as hell to throw it down in a race.

Saving the best for last. I believe this is Dave Wood absolutely LAUNCHING his rig. Not only is it at night, but, God damn it, he's sporting a suit and HE'S IN THE DROPS!!!!

I think the guy in the far left of the frame has the same expression I would have. He's thinking, "Mother f#%ker is that ever cool.". He's thinking it because there is a young one just to his left in daddy's arms. No potty mouth around the kids folks....

I've come to the conclusion that I will never, no matter how hard I try, be as cool as any of these guys, the Duke Boys or Mark Gonzales but I sure do love seeing what they put out there. Spectacular!

Anyway, that's my entry for today. Hope it was worthy. Once again, staying true to the blog, it's a lot of random useless thoughts put into words.

Thanks for reading, and I'll leave you with how cross racers DON'T like to go over barriers.

For the record.....Joey is OK

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