Racing all terrain bicycles at an amateur level is not an easy task. It requires a slightly above average outlay of time, money and emotions. It can be especially difficult if you want your approach to racing to seem apathetic and off the cuff. For pulling off a truly unspectacular performance you need to have an arsenal of excuses, throwaway lines and procedures at the ready to mask your efforts and make your results look like a product of apathy rather than lack of ability. This brief article aims to explain a few ways in which you can put the really hard work in to make others think you are not putting work in at all. See rules below.
1. Apathetic aesthetic
Put the effort in to make your bike look naff. Matt’s seat is expensive and functional but in its original state it makes Matt seem a bit serious. Matt has managed to allow his buttock cradle to slide into the crevice of disrepair. It looks knackered, but still does the job. This stroke of genius can be replicated throughout your bike. Buy expensive parts to get performance gains then neglect them to damage their aesthetics.
Another example of this can be seen on my bike below. I’ve used electrical tape in on the top tube to give the bike an amateur look which will also add a few extra grams to by overall weight. A double negative for performance, a double positive for building up your attempted apathetic appearance.
2. The fine balance of pro and no
Professional racers and their mechanics spend hours in the bike laboratory testing out all sorts potions, lotions and axel path motions. As an amateur racer, you are obliged to do the same. However, professional racers have the added benefit of actually being professional. Of course, they are taking it seriously, their wage packet depends on it. You are not a pro and can’t give the impression that you are in any way aspiring to be. That’s why with every pro upgrade and aero alteration you need counterbalance it with a ‘not so pro’ ill-advised spec choice. This can be seen on Matt’s transition. A top of the range lightweight aluminium frame doesn’t leave much room for excuses. Matt has counteracted the engineering prowess of the Transiton teams efforts by sticking a cut up tyre to put on his frame. That is how it should be done!
3. Anti XC excuse builder
When it comes to explaining away your mid-pack result, weight is your friend. Send your bike out for a five-course meal on bargain bin aluminium or steel components. Order that desert course of triple compound 2.7inch DH tires with a slime tube compote. Mmm, rolling resistance. With that metaphorical meal smeared all over your bikes face on race day, there is no way anyone will think you’re taking speed seriously. Perfect.
Those dedicated to the cause can even take this category to the next level. Steve, seen gurning below, has managed to find a broken KS dropper post and fit it for the race. This is a genius move because the post in its current state serves the same purpose as a fixed seat post but because of its broken internals, it’s actually four times heavier.
4. Plenty of tea drinking time
Doing too much practice will ruin your chances of looking like you’re not bothered. Instead of being a keen bean, sit in your pants in the car eating the cold keen beans right out of the tin of discontent. Don’t forget to spill some on your jersey.
5. ‘What pressure you running?”
Chat with fellow racers in the pits (aka a ditch that your car is precariously parked in) inevitably brings up discussion around what components you have frantically bolted on to your bicycle machine the night before the race. Under no circumstances should you admit that you know these facts. Even if you know the weight, year and country of origin of every bolt and or nut on your overpriced bicycle, don’t admit it. Admitting this will give the impression that you have put thought into your preparations and this will severely undermine your “I wasn’t taking it seriously anyway” excuse when the final results rattle down the internet tunnels.
6. Be a retrogrouch
Serious racers stay ahead of the trend. They are early adopters and will experiment vigorously to find the next big thing. The apathetic racer should try hard to avoid these trends. If you’re feeling really bold just flat out deny knowledge of any alteration to standards at all. Dale can be seen below exhibiting probably the only 26-inch wheel bike at an enduro race anywhere in the country. Dedication.
7. Laugh away the sorrow
Laughing and joking on the start line makes others think you’re not taking it seriously. If you want to really succeed with this ploy you need to commit! Go Dick Van Dyke on the unsuspecting crowds. If you are struggling to find something to laugh at, just think about how there are 300 people in the middle of a forest with a combined worth of £1 million pounds of bicycles. Actually, that might make you cry. Just make a fart noise or something.
8. Shut up
The final rule of being an apathetic racer is to never admit the effort you have put in to create that illusion. Never admit, these secrets should be kept as quiet as the crowds applause on your race run.
You’ve done it, congratulations. Firstly, congrats on making to the end of this abysmal blog/written admittance of my personality flaws. It must have been hard. Secondly, if you have implemented all of the measures above you also deserve a pat on the back from the big ironic hand of undue praise (and by ironic I don’t mean completely made of iron). You have now put in a massive amount of effort, avoided training, lied to your friends and fellow competitors and come to terms with your mix of competitiveness and laziness. When the disappointing race results come you can believably tell people “I’m not bothered, I don’t take it seriously anyway” and slip away into the obscurity of the roots and rain database.