May E-bikes heal you

Jul 12, 2015 at 14:09
by Wacek Kipszak  

There are some particular moments when "bike internet" turns into arena filled with trolls, geeks, nerds, regular hecklers and nameless prop snipers. Certain products, real life events or MTB personalities end up torn apart into tiniest pieces, then fought over until there are no bones left and all possible interpretations of a tiniest PR claim are made. There may be thoughtful comments, knowledge and experience based responses, but they all tend to drown in raw discourtesy, pseudo scientific assumptions and pseudo intellectual ejaculations. Whatever it is, controversial opinion seems irresistible to many of us and mess it creates, attracts even more people instead of repelling them. It makes me wonder, why is that so? Why do I get so fired up at times? In this article I try to present one of the mechanisms, that I believe, lays at the base of those terrible word fights and I will do it on example of one of the most controversial subjects of the bike-web: Electric engine assisted mountain bikes.

"At the heart of our mental lives, there seemed to be a striking contradiction - we seek out information and then act to destroy it. On the one hand, our sense organs have evolved to give us a marvellously detailed and accurate view of the outside world - we see the world in color, in 3D, in motion, texture, nonrandomness, embedded patterns and a great variety of other features. Likewise for hearing and smell. Together our sensory systems are organized to give us a detailed and accurate view of reality, exactly as we would expect if truth about the outside world helps us to navigate it more effectively. But once this information arrives in our brains, it is often distorted and biased to our conscious minds. We deny the truth to ourselves. We project onto others traits that are in fact true to ourselves - and then attack them! We repress painful memories, create completely false ones, rationalize immoral behavior, act repeatedly to boost positive self opinion, and show a suite of ego-defense mechanisms"


"The Folly of Fools: the Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life" Robert Trivers


xxx


Lately I tried a practice called "Shadow work". To clarify, ones "Shadow" is a Jungian metaphor for certain processes going on in our psyche, not some kind of supposedly existing spiritual entity! I am not ready to start a cult... not yet. The Shadow side of our personality is all those things we do not want to become or represent, that we reject, like: "gluten is bad", "abortion is unholy", "I would never ride a 29er!" Shadow is a carrier for things that we repress for being immoral and shameful, events from the past we want to forget, particularly from childhood and puberty. People around us, friends, parents, teachers, priests, talking heads on TV, pro riders are the biggest source of what feels as an exemplary moral behavior to us - it is the food for our moral horse. We may wish to think that we chose what to believe but most of it is imposed on us on both conscious and subconscious level, creating so cllad collective consciousness - a favorite book of arguments and the tool of torture of Freud'ssuper ego. Becoming aware of that psychic force, may be a necessary step to be aware how "shadow" fills our beliefs, distorts reality and consequently affects our decisions.

Psychologists point out that the prime signs of shadow program running in our heads are: feeling of anxiety, sometimes passion but most often: anger - all coped with getting on a high moral horse. Shadow requires an impulse, a boost to show up and get itself running, often a topic of high concern, something we are opinionated about and stand strong on one side of the argument. When summoned, Shadow blurs the perception of reality. We start making what is called psychological projections. It is like painting a picture of someone or something, dressing them up in our ideas of who he/she is, instead of who he really is and does, all based on selected traces of evidence. Think about it, how easy it is to paint on an empty canvas, to prejudge someone we don't know. It is important to point out that projections are not just about negative things, it works the same way with falling in love, off course, with a great help of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, sometimes alcohol - "I think she is the one!" Shadow helps us to see what we want to see and ignore what doesn't fit the picture. The problem is that, the uncomfortable part isn't going anywhere, it gets pushed into our subconsciousness and sooner or later, it will show up in some form of anxiety. If we are to tame the monster we must dig deep and face it. There's a treasure to find though, we learn more about ourselves, become more self aware, come in terms with our feelings, decrease overall anxiety, heal unresolved wounds. As good as it sounds at first, we all know it on some level: when you dig inside you will find some nasty stuff. We might like to think about ourselves as people who will rise to the task in the face of apocalypse but notice that even in Hollywood movies, beside heroes, we find cowards, back stabbers and regular cannon meat.

xxx

Let me now present you with how may the Shadow work look like. Not so long ago I used to despise E-bikes, throwing opinions like:

Those bikes promote being lazy, they strip from incentive to exercise and excel in riding bikes, another waste created to earn money rather than cater to a particular need. Potential buyers are no handicapped people, those are lazy, fat bastards, not willing to train, to earn the turns, they are likely to hurt themselves on the way down and someone will have to come and get them with a helicopter wasting my tax money. Those bikes are illegal anyways, those are motorcycles, they should not be allowed on trails, because they will ruin them, unskillfully skidding with locked wheel on downs and increase erosion of uphill sections. Finally the electric engines and their batteries are horrible to the environment, no matter if delusional green-leftist hipster-hippies in my town believe that their owners just sold a car to change commuting habits to save the planet, instead of being just lazy cyclists. Lazy lazy lazy...


I wrote all that down and started analyzing it - what does it say about me? - First off, I realized that electric mountain bikes are not the issue, it is the unspecified group of people that was upsetting me. Why were they upsetting me? I never met one. Come on! Let's be realistic, a choice of a bicycle, normal or assisted, cannot represent the whole picture of a whole human being. So now, why is it that I don't like those people? Why do they appear to me as individuals stripped of morals and more importantly: not getting what the real mountain biking is about? The reality is, I am not as fit as I would like to be and I feel ashamed of it. I buy and try a lot of different things, so I am ashamed of being a sheep. I like to skid sometimes but I am ashamed of ruining the trails. I like taking risks, I ride alone often, sometimes without a phone, not telling where I am going - I would be extremely ashamed if something happened to me, so that rescue team would need to take me, and I would not be able to help my wife with our small kids. Ruining trails? - I am DEEPLY ashamed that I don't build trails, I may put some logs or branches away, but I wish I could build or at least maintain more. I ride illegal trails and I am at least a bit ashamed of doing it against the society. I don't give a damn about the law the system, and society? f*ck society!... something's wrong... am I arrogant?

Each of those things can and deserve to be taken apart into even smaller pieces, like buying things - why am I doing this? To experience how the new toy feels like, to enhance my riding experience, to feel fast, to be faster... faster than who? - at least a few people, I don't know... So I want to be recognized, stand out by riding faster > I want to be appreciated > I want to be loved. Then I want to be able to tell people that I have this toy, yes I want to be appreciated > to be loved. Why do I want to enhance my riding experience? Do I want to be happy? Do I know another way to boost experience? Yes - training - why don't I focus on it then? - Because... I am, I feel I am... lazy?


Keyboard warrior Troll

I don't want to praise electric mountain bikes, convince anyone to anything else but taking a moment of self reflection - I wrote most of this article before I tried one. I'd never buy one, but I did enjoy riding it immensely, it didn't feel any heavier in handling than a regular DH bike and hell it did motivate me to pedal like stupid to stay at high speed - shortly, it was super fun and only an ideology could stop me from admitting it. I want to point out that most of our worries, no matter if it is 275+, clipless pedals, electronic gears are completely unfounded. I guess the biggest fear people have with E-bikes is potential increase in trail erosion. In case of "legal" E-bikes, that is absolute bollocks. Let's take Trek Powerfly or Cube Stereo with 250W Bosch engines. They run only as pedal assist when you spin the cranks and cut the power off above 25km/h. They are actually easier on trail surface and roots of living trees than average XC-bike with semi slick tyre as they carry more speed thus have more grip. Aren't there hundreds of people on "analog" bikes riding disrespectfully? Isn't even the most respectfully used trail getting eroded and thus requiring maintenance? Just think of the brake bumps, millions of them appeared before e-bikes became a trend. Shuttling and lifts, anybody? Trails are destroyed by traffic and poor braking skills, and that has always been and always will be done on all sorts of bikes.



Please stop having trouble with people buying or liking E-bikes, Fat bikes or helmets with detachable chin guard, if only for the sake of your own sanity. You can't change their mind, you just simply can't - you are performing an act of helplessness in the face of something not fitting your belief system, knocking yourself around its tight walls like an angry wasp caught in a jar. They obviously ride those bikes for their own reasons. By watching people I work with, my family, my friends I realized that each life is a constellation of unique elements: happenings, conflicts, experiences, pursuits after certain intrinsic desires, making us who we are and do what we do. I guess nobody gets everything. I think e-bikes are the perfect scape goats. To many, they represent most of what is wrong with mountain biking these days, it is absolutely terrifying how easy we can dehumanize people basing on what they ride. Dreadful arguing, tossing tons of insults makes E-bikes become a strong point of reference, thanks to which, MTB Puritans can feel better about themselves and keep on being who they are. In this way, it is not those self-righteous inquisitors being weak, unskilled and ruining trails - It is the others! It is the witches! Burn the Witches to cleanse the sins of our sacred congregation! Well, having such point of reference, especially one that does not exist in reality, barely leads anywhere - sure, it adds some self confidence, but what we also need is to compare ourselves with someone real, ride with all sorts of people, preferably with someone better. It is harder to swallow because it forces us to be at least a bit more humble. So we may use the picture we paint for e-bikers, and try to work on being slightly better in each of the things we accuse them of.


xxx

Arguably yours
Wacek Kipszak WAKi

waki-leaks.blogspot.com



MENTIONS: @WAKIdesigns




23 Comments

  • + 6
 "We project onto others traits that are in fact true to ourselves - and then attack them! "

Ahh, married life. Right there. Both ways.

"Trails are destroyed by traffic and poor braking skills, and that has always been and always will be done on all sorts of bikes."
Excellent read Waki.
  • + 4
 Thanks WAKI for being brave enough to continue to prod this community to be a little more introspective... and especially as a result of your own introspection. Makes the assertions more valid.

I've found the enneagram a useful tool for both personal reflection and comprehension of what others are looking for in eour interactions.

Last note, I'm traveling in Japan right now with a group of my students. There are ebikes EVERYWHERE. Japanese moms use them to shuttle kids around, delivery people use them to haul loads of stuff from here to there. I'd say nearly 1/4 of the bikes I see have some sort of electric assist, and there are tons of bikes everywhere. (and did I mention that it is HOT. any break from unnecessary exertion is welcome, especially if your goal is to get there, rather than to 'train'.
  • + 4
 Thanx for that. While we do always need a scape goat, the most homophobic gay hunters are usually masking their own desires to even climb into the closet. I think with mtb trolling the fire is exaggerated by prices we pay for our gear. If the forum was about $.45 lollipops and ppl were flame warring over the virtues of rootbeer flavored lollipop ppl would be like oh rootbeer is gross, but they would not spend too much time tearing each other apart. However if their cherry flavored lollipop (Cherry is by far the best btw) cost $8K then they flamer may be feeling a lil insecure about their purchase, and in order to correct this nagging feeling that they made a mistake and are wondering if maybe they should have given rootbeer a lick, will devote great effort into making those idiots with their nasty rootbeer flavored lollipops hate themselves for their own consumption of oxygen, as they should i mean rootbeer flavored lollipops that's just disgusting.
  • + 4
 The psychologist call them filters. They are internal devices we use to protect our selves from being emotionaly hurt. Instead of processing data with logic the truth in front of us is replaced with a filtered reality. if you recognize these filters you can re program the mind to behave differently. I try to look at what what alternative lifestyles may be like and understand from a different point of view. Thus i decided that some one that is over weight and decides they need to get in shape. The E bike may keep them riding. The big picture is that I want to be angry less and love more. Projecting my ideals on other people doesnt help me to be happy but strong opinions can be respected. I believe Morals are opinions. I respect peoples opinions as long as that idea is not forced on me. If your opinion on any subject is bent compared to the world model you are going to get peoples attention. If your reasoning is intelligent then i find my self entertained. Normal is boring. One mas opinion.
  • + 0
 Wow, thanks for that, it was a great read with some nice ideas! I personally use the term "filter" about creative people. We are preconditioned to watch for certain things and then we have developed certain interests. All that creates a unique data acqusition system. Then we process that information in a unique way, Then finaly we have certain talents and develop certain skills to communicate and express the results of that processing, we have certain triggers making us want to throw out certain things. So there are many, many processing units on the way, from getting inspired to creating a record. The most fantastic thing for me is that belief systems and strict schools will make your work similar to others, so while general quality may go up as a result of "training" the uniqueness will go down.
Cheers!
  • + 3
 Psychologists vary dramatically in their lenses. I'm about a year off of being done my PhD and some of the cooler new research I really like at the moment looks at our emotional systems in the brain (emotions being those systems designed to help us interact meaningfully with the environment) and the developmental origins of these systems. For example, something we believe may inflict some harm, physical or emotional, leads to anger/aggression (one of the brain/bodies way of forming action against threat). I always reflect on how we are a species that evolved through small groups and our brains very much reflect this. At some time in our history, to be a able to know the parameters of our group was essential to not being killed as resources were scarce and groups competed fiercely. Tattoos, clothing, tools etc. were all markers of in-group and it was smart to be very attuned to this. Mountain biking culture is in many ways a tribe and people appear to desperately draw the parameters. Things that fall outside of this (e-bikes, fanny packs, 29ers, fat bikes etc.) threaten someones identity in that group (x = my tribe). Either way, with any behavior the reality is it is less a causal line and more a Lego creation leading to it as there are many overlapping factors influencing each behavior. This may be one factor to be mixed with personality, memory, "shadows" (Johari window/ transference/ schemas...etc.) etc. I think people who have a strong sense of identity off the bike (those whose identities are less enmeshed with the bike and bike culture and more varied and complex) tend to get less worked up about these things as their identity is less threatened by them. Just another lens. Thanks for the thought WAKI,
  • + 0
 Thanks for that. I am no psychologist, just an overly self reflective person. I guees what I tried to say was, that, it is ok to have an opinion, but getting angry and linking stuff to morality by projecting ideologies on simple matters is a sign of having an own issue. And it is not bad to be angry as long as one realizes the underlying issues and uses that "case" as a sign on working on that issue and energy of the complex can help resolve the issue. You know what finaly made it for me? Thanks to work with Ryan Leech and increase of my own interest in psychology, some tangible concepts started to emerge. I got it thanks to a dude in a huge Monster Energy truck. I saw him getting out of it and I thought to myself as I used to in such situations: what a wanker, what a small pecker, why do you beed such car?! He was smiling and he looked super happy but my mind was shouting: you must be so miserable. i got it, that no matter what merketing masterminds say, an object cannot describe complexity of a human being, it works the other way around, they tell us that we should express ourselves through certain choices, even if we all buy that story at some point, it is not that we are fake, the story is a fake. Cheers!
  • + 3
 Long one but a good one. My degree is psychology emphasized behavioral psychology. It studies more of what is measurable, and less of the underlying mechanisms. I personally focused on interactions within families. In doing so I also studied the evolutionary approach to psychology and sociology. I suspect the angst comes from how our group self defines. The small part that fitness plays is a key barrier to entrance to some people, and a group doesn't just self define by who is in the group, but who is not in it. If motors open the trails to everyone our group disolves. Lift access has a financial cost as well as an image involving insane risk. It reminds me of the recent resistance to the growth in the sport. Our group needs to exclude people to feel cohesive. Otherwise we stop being a group and biking becomes a hobby instead of the semi-cult it is right now.
  • + 4
 I read recently about the importance of the function of a scape goat, how important it is to have one, in personal as well as group life, but it truly helps only if we realize that program is running in our head while we pick on someone so we don't take it any far.
  • + 1
 If your going to have a scape goat also make it someone or thing you don't like. Obvious but how weird would it be if you didn't
  • + 2
 Excellent job, Waki!
I myself work in the town 20km away and every day I ride the train there. One of my colleagues, a 56 year old man, with a heart attack behind his back only lives 10km away. I have a 22 minute commute, where he has a 30 minute one. The thing is, he owns an E-Bike with a Bosch 250 and he rides to work every single day. People can say what they want about E-bikes, but that man is times fitter than me, regardless of the E-help. He does not burn any extra fuel in a ICE, does not clog up the cities' parking spaces. He just comes to work, locks his bike and on he goes, without even being sweaty. It is not a bad thing, that there are E-bikes. The town I live in currently, Tübingen, is like San Francisco, hills everywhere, yet it is full of elderly people and some heavier lads on bikes, some of which with a Bosch 250 on them. I like that people are still willing to put in an effort to get to their desired destinations, whether minimal or minuscule, it is still an effort and I respect that Smile
  • + 2
 Really enjoyed that. I think what gets me angry about the ebike debate is the sheer volume of incredible bullshit scenarios and hyperbol people have generated. I aren't irritated that people don't share my view, just the fact that the seem immune to some of the ludicrous nonsense they are spouting.
  • + 2
 holy shit, yogi Waki emerges. alas i am too ignorant to know anything about what you're talking about so cant really arrive on an opinion about the content of your article, but it was an interesting read nonetheless...


an yeah ebikes still suck, so i must have some deep-seated jungian issues hiding away in here ;p
  • + 0
 Nah, you are super cool Razz
  • + 1
 Thanks Waki, that was an awesome read and spot on... I myself have a degree in Physiology and Psychology and it always blows my mind to see how narrow scoped and negatively opinionated our mtb community is. It doesn't even matter where we are geographically, socially, or economically the "STUPID" still comes out...
  • + 1
 You not think sometimes it boils down to human nature and the urge to be part of a tribe/team. This is my team and my believes and if you're not on it/with me then everything you think is inherently wrong. England v's Australia, Man Utd v's Chelsea, 29 vs 650b, hard tail v's suspension, it's all about picking a team and disliking the opposition.
  • + 1
 Yes it has a lot to do with that, but there is a difference between team built for cooperation to achieve something (like at work) and teams built to provide shelter against some threat. I guess in case of irrational fears, the team serves a protective function, against ones own demons. All of us have intrinsic fears of particular groups but just because you are insecure about how many immigrants your country takes does not mean that you are a racist, but if you allow it to develop by listening to idiots who can't keep their crap at bay, then you may end up as a true racist. Most extreme points of view don't hold water simply because in order to make them true and apply to all situations, you must bend the reality.
  • + 3
 Good read, it helped me clarify some of the things happening in my life right now, I call it the "devaluate others to feel superior syndrome".
  • + 0
 yea lets all pretend ebikes arent that bad, lets all get them then when im crushing my climb on my ebike at 15-20mph and youre crushing youre descent at 20-25mph we can both have a horrible crash but its all good because we should just live and let live. F**k ebikes forever
  • + 2
 Let me summarize the article for everyone too lazy to actually read it: be cool & let others be.
  • + 3
 As usual, slightly mindfucked, but also slightly enlightened.
  • + 1
 Excellent post, I really enjoyed it!
  • + 1
 lay off the mushrooms, or eat some more. Smile

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