If you ask competitive triathletes what their goals are in biking, they would probably answer: Win first place at a local road race or ride the Tour de France course.
Me? My ultimate goal in biking—and I truly believe this ability separates newbies from pros—would be to do this: to pull out a banana from my back pocket, peel it with ease, gobble it down, and toss the peel right into a moving garbage truck while riding a bike. Once I achieve this without crashing, wobbling, or peeing in my pants due to nervousness, I can then finally have the guts to call myself a serious cyclist.
I’ve been riding seriously (by that, I mean minimum of twice a week) for almost a year now and finished Ironman 70.3 Cebu last August, yet I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to biking. (Wait, is it biking or cycling? And, what’s the diff anyway?!) Unlike my first love, running, biking requires a lot more technical skills that you can gain from a coach or experienced cyclist and, as other cyclists will tell you, can also be acquired from saddle time, or in layman’s terms, just riding as much as you can.
During the past few months on the bike, I’ve come to note the technical skills required to succeed at biking and eventually achieve top-tier (read: banana-peeling and eating) status in biking. Based on my research and observation, below are the various levels each biker must undergo before progressing to the next level:
TBR’S BIKE SKILLS 101…OR HOW TO REACH BANANA-EATING BIKING GOD STATUS
Level 1: Riding a bike. Bike with confidence and ease. No more training wheels please. No daddy to hold your seat surreptitiously as you bike along…especially if you are male and above 30 years old.
Level 2: Wearing tight bike shorts. This is especially challenging for men since, er, there’s quite a lot of exposure up front. This skill becomes even more daunting when the top is short or tight as well. Usually, this skill can be accomplished quickly by the following strategy: 1) Inhale. 2) Don’t exhale. 3) Say to yourself 10x: Bahala na. Gwapo naman bike ko.
Level 3: Riding a bike with cleats. Clip your shoe into the pedals and pray to the high heavens that you remember to unclip before you slow to a stop. Make sure to have your essentials for protection: helmet, super padded bike shorts, jeans or jogging pants, arm sleeves, gloves, and bandaid. You may also opt to videotape this so that in case of a crash you may immediately upload to Facebook to show friends how tough you are. Rawr.
– Bike skill training at MOA with Coach Norman Pascual –
Level 4: Signaling for a turn and/or scratching your head while riding. Both skills are in Level 4 since they are quite similar in that they require one hand off the handle bar. Achieving this skill without swerving or shaking takes quite a lot of practice, but once accomplished it makes for a safer and, might I say, less itchy ride.
Level 5: Drinking while riding. Once you’ve got the one-hand riding down, you may attempt to reach lower for that water bottle to prevent dehydration. Many a biker (especially women) have been fooled into thinking this is an easy skill, but realize later on that the challenge lies in returning said bottle into its cage. Perfecting this skill is essential for proper hydration and will also lead to a reduced mortality rate for water bottles that have succumbed to road accidents.
Level 6: Riding in aero position. If you have a TT bike or, put simply, those bikes with two bars jutting out from the center to put the rider in aerodynamic (or, ironically, “breaking wind”) position thereby speeding him up (or scaring him to death), then you must take on the additional skill of riding in aero. Initial attempts will be awkward, uncomfortable, and downright frightening, but, oh baby, once you’ve mastered this skill, you will look like a pro…even if you don’t actually ride like one!
Level 7: Riding while chatting…while looking at your chat mate! It’s one thing to share an anecdote while riding, but to share a funny story while occasionally gazing at your friend and expertly maneuvering your bike through roads takes skill. You’ve reached Level 7++ when you can actually make sense or give some useful advice while doing this.
Level 8: Riding with obstacles. The obstacles may be any of the following: a possessed chihuahua chasing you, a lose wire entering your front wheel, a guard blocking your path (even if he sees you coming at full speed!), or worst of them all, a higad falling on your arm sleeve with green blob spilling out of its guts. (Yes, all of these have happened to me during the past months. The higad incident being the most recent since it was just last week. Waaah!) Successfully surviving such obstacles without crashing makes one an accomplished rider. Much better if you can do it with poise without a curse word from your mouth. (I believe I failed miserably at that.)
Level 9: Riding while peeling a banana and eating it. This is the highest level of bike skills right along with other complex tasks such as 1) texting your cook to prepare tapsilog, 2) wearing a jacket, or 3) stretching both arms to yawn mainly because it requires the use of two hands. Once you can do this, you can tap yourself on the back and say you’re an accomplished biker.
Now, if you can tap yourself on the back WHILE effectively spreading Nutella on the banana WHILE riding your bike, then I may just elevate you to Level 10 status, a level no one in history has ever reached. Oh, you’d also have to hand over the bottle of Nutella first.