Ramblings and snapshots by M. Scott Smith

From the Less Mature Files: Mountain Biking / Mountain Dew 🔗

All right, so this one isn't my favorite column, but now I'm starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. I wrote this column in 1996, and I really don't have any problem with road bikers. No, really, I don't. The whole comment about road bikers looking like dorks was completely uncalled for. I realize that now. Now, I don't particularly like it when road bikers ride right in the middle of a road oblivious to the traffic around them, but that's just a minor beef. (And where the heck did that saying come from, anyway? A "minor beef?" That doesn't make any sense at all. English is silly.)

Read on to learn some differences between mountain biking and road biking. And again, I mean no ill will towards the road biking brethren.

Every now and then, a new fad permeates into the very fabric of our culture.

Wow, can I write, or what?

Mountain biking is one such fad. Other fads have included snowboarding, inline skating, calling people collect, tap dancing in the nude, and overthrowing governments. All have become favorite pastimes which fill our weekends with wholesome fun and entertainment.

Mountain bikes have overtaken road bikes in terms of popularity, even though most people who buy mountain bikes only ride them on roads. This is similar to cars being parked on driveways, and driven on parkways.

The main difference between mountain bikers and road bikers is that road bikers feel a need to wear skin-gripping tights which leave very little to the imagination. This results in most road bikers looking like dorks who apparently don't own mirrors, which prevents them from seeing how ridiculous they look.

Mountain bikers needn't pretend that they are cape-wearing super heroes to pedal their two-wheeled vehicles.

Mountain bikes have bigger tires, which makes them slower than road bikes. Road bikes, with their thinner tires, can go faster, which is necessary to escape from motorists who are trying to run them down for looking so ridiculous.

Road bikers also appear to be under the false impression that they are as durable as a car and therefore can intermingle with traffic, sometimes riding in the center of a one-lane road on a winding mountain highway in the middle of a rainstorm at night. Oh what the heck, throw in an earthquake for good measure.

At least road bikers signal with their left hand which direction they are turning, although few motorists are familiar with these signals and often mistake them for other gestures.

Road bikers also often shave their legs, regardless of their gender. Two common reasons given for this bizarre behavior include decreasing wind resistance and making it less painful to remove band-aids, which is a plus since road bikers frequently have scraped up legs resulting from being run down by motorists or signaling which direction they are turning.

But thankfully, mountain bikers and road bikers alike have begun wearing helmets to prevent head injuries.

When the McDonald's Corporation stopped using styrofoam for its food packaging, styrofoam companies struggled to find new ways to destroy the environment and stay afloat economically. Their research led to the development of bicycle helmets, which are composed of leftover McDonald's food packaging.

This styrofoam, which comes in designer colors, is placed on the head, and protects the head should it suddenly be catapulted into a tree or spontaneously combust for whatever reason.

Of course, it doesn't take much knowledge of physics to realize that the bicycle helmets are considerably less durable than, say, a skull, but they do come in designer colors.

There are several places to mountain bike in the Philadelphia area, but for a true mountain biking adventure one must pedal out to Utah.

What makes Utah such a fun place to mountain bike is that you can be pedaling along, and suddenly, ride right off a cliff and fall several hundred feet onto sharp rocks below.

I can't describe to you the euphoria of being in free-fall on your mountain bike, mainly because I've never been in free-fall on my mountain bike.

But something like this happened in a Mountain Dew commercial once, so it must be a hip thing to do.

If you do ride your mountain bike in Philadelphia, be careful to lock it securely, because they have a high theft rate.

Thieves will gladly take any piece of your mountain bike they can get. For some reason, quick-releases are especially popular, which doesn't make much sense to me since they cost so little and have little value outside of attaching a tire to a bike or lobbing at ridiculous-looking road bikers.

I have two possible theories to explain their high rate of theft. Either employees of bicycle stores steal them, so they can re-sell them to you in a never-ending cycle, or road bikers go around stealing them.

M. Scott Smith is a senior majoring in computer science. He plans on mountain biking in Utah in July.

- By M. Scott Smith, 1996. All rights reserved.

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