Friday, October 15, 2010

Epic defined

The term "epic" seems to spawn much debate.  It seems like a simple enough word.  Bikers us it all the time to describe a big ride they did.  I myself use it often to describe a ride.  But I'm often met with a puzzled look.  People want to know what "epic" means.  What are the parameters used to define an "epic" ride.  How far/long do I have to ride?  How much suffering qualifies an epic?  And then these question often lead to bigger biking questions.  Does riding an epic trail make you an epic rider?  Does riding a Epic (Specialized) bike make you an epic rider?  Or does riding an Epic bike on an epic trail make you superhuman?  Let me state right off, that I will not attempt to answer all these questions, but I will try and shed some light on what an epic ride is to me.  I use this term on my blog, and so I should be able to give it definition (and hopefully squash some of the debate that it sparks...but probably not).

First, some definitions.  Webster's epic: "(1) of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic."  Umm, really?  No help.  How about "(2)  extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope, heroic."  Now we are getting somewhere and I like heroic!

One more definition.  Let's turn to IMBA.  They surely should be able to clear this up.  IMBA loves this word as they have compiled a whole list of "IMBA Epics" that span the whole U.S.  It is basically a bucket list of sorts.  What parameters do they use?  "The IMBA Epics are selected by IMBA staff, including our Regional Directors. The directors consulted closely with club leaders to find out which trails in their territories are having the biggest influence on riders, as well as land managers and decision makers. These rides are the models that shape our conception of what is possible for trail recreation on public lands."  What the #@&*?!  Terms like "influence, models and conception" have NEVER come to mind when I think of an epic bike ride.  However,  I think there is something here unstated that can help.  IMBA has gathered a list of trails that are elite and deemed as necessary for any calling themselves a mountain biker.  These notches on the water bottle give the rider credibility.

OK, so we have a couple concepts to build on here to define epic rides: 1) rides are beyond ordinary, 2) size and scope are beyond the usual and 3) rides leave an impression on the rider and carry allure of something new or a must-do.

Now I have thought long and hard about this and I have several factors that go into determining if the ride is epic.  The list is long, but not exhaustive.  You do not need to meet ALL the factors, but you are required to meet half (6) of these to call a ride EPIC:
  1. Getting lost
  2. Drawing blood
  3. Have at least 1 mechanical issue
  4. Running out of food
  5. Running out of water
  6. Taking longer than planned...by at least an 1.5 hours
  7. Asking "whose idea was this" or stating "I will never do this again" then a week later saying "that was a great idea" or "I would do that ride again"
  8. Riding out in the dark (unplanned)
  9. Hiking your bike...sometimes way more than planned
  10. Have to be with at least 1 other rider
  11. Pain and suffering
  12. Ride at least twice the normal distance/time you normally would
In the end, an epic ride is just about going out and suffering and having fun with your buddies.  Don't worry about definitions, but if you MUST define every ride than you can refer to my list.

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