Most of the time, I go biking solo. It’s not because I don’t enjoy company. It’s because most of the time, I can’t get anyone to go with me on my trips. Or I schedule trips, drink too much beer the night before, and wake up seven hours late feeling like Jon Jones used my head for his spinning elbow practice. And so to use a popular tagalog kasabihan: Papunta pa lang ako, parating na sila.
But seriously, it’s always better to ride with a buddy or a group. If something bad happens, you can always have someone to answer organ donor questions, carry your remains back to civilization, or help fix a flat. Riding with someone better than you in terms of experience and skill also pushes you to level up your own cache of tricks.
So what sort of bikers should you ride with if you had the choice? Here are at least seven MTB archetypes I can think of.
1. The Freeride Ninja
This biker lives for technique. He sneers at terms like gnarly and stoked because he has no use for such shopworn terms. He lives it. Berms, drops, offcamber turns, jumps, bunnyhops, wheelies, rock gardens, loose gravel, kwek kwek, tokneneng, notary public na tumatanggap rin ng labada pag linggo—he’s done it all.
This type of biker usually rides fullsus bikes with nothing less than 140mm of cushy travel which helps him execute all those fancy tricks. Ride with this guy; observe him; try to duplicate his moves, and you’ll be spitting shuriken at the wimps who claim that that insane trail is unrideable.
2. The XC Mamaw
This biker is all about fitness. He is forever trying to beat his best time on Strava sections like Timberland’s The Wall, and Shotgun. While average bikers may be happy with finishing such excruciating climbs in half an hour (with plenty of pahinga stops) the XC Mamaw will feel defeated if it takes him more than seven minutes to blast through The Wall. This does not mean that the XC Mamaw is not technically skilled. He actually is, but what stands out in this guy is not his bike kung fu, but his superhuman endurance and power. And he/she loves races, and craves podium finishes.
This type of biker usually prefers bikes that have as little suspension as possible. 80mm is considered adequate. 100mm is pushing it. Why? Because he thinks these things add weight to bike and make bikes less efficient on long grueling climbs. And because suspension is for sissies. Ride with this guy and you’ll find out just how fit you can be.
3. The Exploration Junkie
This biker lives to see new places, new trails, and accumulate new experiences. Whether it’s the grand mountains of the Cordilleras, the lush rolling hills of Batanes, or the never-before biked footpaths of the Sierra Madre, or the rediscovered temples of Cambodia, this type of biker is game for it. If you want to grow as a biker, you have got to explore new trails, new destinations.
This type of biker usually prefers bikes which can accommodate panniers, saddle bags and other types of bags. Get in touch with with your inner Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Ride with an exploration junkie and you’ll find out what epic truly means.
4. The Photo/Video Geek
So you just cleared that 80-foot jump and did enough backflips to make Cam Zink consider retiring. Yeah right. Can we watch it on Youtube? If there is no photo, did it ever really happen? If there is no video, was it really as awesome as you claim it to be?
Spare yourself from such philosophical conundrums and ride with a biker who has been seriously bitten by the shutterbug. He may slow down your pace as he looks for the best way to frame a shot, set the exposure, or set the GoPro’s frame rate, but you will thank him later when the pictures and the video get uploaded.
This rider could’ve been a Spielberg, Scorcese or Brocka. But during one mountain biking trip, he bumped his head on a rock, went into a coma, and woke up screaming that helmet cams are the next wave in cinema. Which is quite awesome when you think about it. So take advantage of his photo video geekiness and ride with him.
5. The Wizard Mechanic
Even the toughest, most expensive, most tricked out bikes sometimes break down in the middle of a ride. No need to panic if you’re just in Filinvest or Timberland. But if you’re in Bobok Bisal or Macaingalan, that could mean the end of your ride and a sad sorry hike-a-bike back to base. So if you’re going to do an epic exploration ride, or if you’re going to try some insane technical trail, better ride with a wizard mech.
Who knows? Baka isalin pa nya sa iyo ang kanyang karunungan!
6. The Tree Hugger
Mountain biking is not just about exploration, technical skills, and fitness. It’s also about being out there in nature and appreciating the wild and unspoiled beauty of the environment.
It’s about putting on your flower necklace and loincloth and screaming with joy through the forest. Okay, so maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch. But you get what I mean. Ride with this guy and find your Zen on this planet.
7. The Outside Slacker
Uhh… yeah. He he. Please bring me along on your next trip to Sagada, Mt. Punatubo, Mt. Apo or the Cowboy Country in Masbate. I promise to behave and not post anything embarrassing about you and your ride.