Ever heard of this buzzword: multitasking? In the business world, it means simultaneous handling of several tasks. Originally applied to computers, task refers to a program, and in multitasking, the CPU processes several programs at the same time.
According to Webopedia Computer Dictionary, there are two basic types of multitasking: preemptive and cooperative. In preemptive multitasking, the operating system parcels out CPU time slices to each program. In cooperative multitasking, each program can control the CPU for as long as it needs it. If a program is not using the CPU, however, it can allow another program to use it temporarily. Well, whatever…
Biking works in a similar fashion. It is preemptive because while biking your mind is divided into giving attention to several functions: your eyes take in visual clues on what you need to avoid hitting, what direction you need to steer the handlebar, when to press the break, either in panic or gradually. It is also cooperative since your whole body must work in unison: pedaling, balancing, and thinking about hurdling that last uphill climb or even wrangling with the idea that you could do a bunny hop to get over that log that is blocking your way.
These facts are evident whether you are riding in a trail, or doing an urban assault. Even weekend riders experience these as well as occasional bikers.The only ones spared of this phenomenon are the armchair bikers, who remain content in reading only the accounts of true blue bikers.
Consider this: you start from the foot of a mountain. Your biker buddies assure you that a trail, or a fire road, be it single track or one that can accommodate two or three riders abreast exist and is there actually in front of you. But for the life of you, you couldn’t find one. They insist however, that it is there because they have used the trail before. Your mind protests at the negative evidence that is presented to you but something somewhere deep inside of you is trying to convince your mind to agree. Two totally opposite functions running at the same time. Which side will win?
Finally you agree, in spite of the lack of visual evidence. You proceed to take the next step. Following your bike buddies, you carry your bike on you shoulders. Now, you realize that indeed there is a track beyond those tall weeds and grass! They were only blocking the view. You have hurdled your first multitasking thrill of biking. You have decided that indeed a track exist when no evidence of its existence was present. Now don’t you feel good?
Though there are many functions involved in multitasking, there is only one end in view. Productivity. Oh yes, biking is productive indeed! Isn’t it that when you work on your computer, like when you are typing a report or preparing a plan, you do research beforehand and you pool all the resources you have gathered into a coherent whole, ready for consumption by your audience, who could be your superiors or your colleagues? Once you have completed and finalized your work, you present it to them and they congratulate you for having done a wonderful job. Nice work, man!
In biking, you just don’t ride your bike and voila, you are already a biker! Of course not! You have to be prepared too. You must do some research and then some marketing. You must learn how to bike in the manner of your preferred riding style.
Mountain biking is different from road biking, as much as baking a cake is very different from preparing pancakes. (I’m good at one and terrible at the other, but that would be out of topic here.) And then there is the matter of the bike’s configuration itself. You wouldn’t bring a road bike up there to the mountains where only fire roads lead to the summit. You would be lining up yourself to a disaster if you did. On the other hand, an all purpose mountain bike can get you anywhere, only you would be riding the road not as fast as a roadie can. You have to be mentally prepared, meaning ready to assess all information, visual, mental, physical and even those that come as feedback from your bike, and process them to come up with an informed and correct decision in each turn or downhill stretch. Otherwise, you could end up using a crutch for the rest of your life. That is if you are lucky.
And once you have learned the art of biking on a multitasking level, then you are ready to tackle your first real ride, whether you decide to go up and do mountain biking or go for an urban assault.
I mentioned bike configuration. Now, that’s where hardware multitasking comes in. Each part of the bike should correctly mesh with the other connected parts. The cranks and pedals, the chain and chain rings, the derailleurs, front and back , and the shifters, the brake pads, rotors and levers. They all should function as one perfectly synchronized whole. One malfunctioning part can bring the whole bike down, literally.
Biking will never be just a sport. As computers have dominated the corporate business world, so will bikes eventually will lord over mass transportation. When the price of gas becomes too high, less and less people will use their cars, or so I hope, and then we will see the rise of the bicycle not as a poor man’s transportation anymore, but a more environmentally and politically correct way to travel.