Saturday, November 22, 2014

We're Not Here To Fuck Spiders

If you’ve ever endured the excruciating ordeal of a group mountain bike ride then you've probably come across the phrase, “we’re not here to fuck spiders!” But then again, you might not have. After all, mountain biking is no longer the peculiar hobby of a bunch of Californian misfits on bikes cobbled together from heavy old cruiser frames in between rigorous product testing on the influx of recently decriminalised cannabis presumably spilling over the border from neighbouring Oregon during the mid-1970s.

Today the mountain biking scene has evolved in to a fun family activity, taken up summer residence at many posh alpine ski-resorts (as well as Mount Buller) and provides a legitimate platform for daredevil young riders willing to risk it all for a slice of the energy drink sector’s generous marketing budget.

You could certainly imagine many of the original pioneers of the sport (Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly and Tom Ritchey, et al) uttering similar phrases as the group sat around waiting for each rider to repack grease in to hub shells still hot enough to light their spliffs on. These days most of them are now in their 60s—their LinkedIn profiles providing a history of many of the earliest mountain bike companies—and they've settled down to a more family-oriented existence. Despite this, there’s a fair amount of evidence (in this photo alone) to suggest that Gary Fisher is still pushing the limits of what quantity of Marin County homegrown can reasonably be considered “strictly for personal use”.

The unnecessary tangents, sweeping generalisations and unenlightened social commentary detailed above are an excellent example of exactly the kind of annoying distraction that would, ironically, initiate the phrase “we’re not here to fuck spiders.” It is uttered in response to the incessant stoppages that inevitably plague any social mountain bike ride once it reaches a critical mass of about 5 riders. 

These stoppages are often simply a question of group size and dynamics and may take many different forms: re-grouping; navigation & route choice discussion; mechanical issues; flat tyres; food & drink; or just general laziness and a desire for idle chit-chat. Eventually the length or frequency of these delays will reach a threshold beyond which the most affected member is no longer able to endure, and the declaration will be made in order to hasten the group’s departure, minimise any further faffing about and hopefully spare any proximate arachnids the indignity of being molested by smelly cyclists in ill-fitting lycra and uncomfortable shoes.

The exact derivation of the phrase is unclear and rather surprisingly the Urban Dictionary—usually a reliable source for such definitions—is a little vague:
“A way of saying: why aren’t we doing it already, I’m already doing it, or it’s already done.”
Thankfully though, this European Backpacking Blog seems to offer a fairly accurate definition:
“It is said when you are standing around doing nothing. It’s equivelant [sic] of saying ‘let’s go do something.’ ”
Apparently the cast commentary feature on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers DVD alludes to director Peter Jackson famously uttering the phrase during filming—although this choice piece of film trivia cannot be confirmed by the blogger who uncovered it.
“Or maybe I heard it wrong, which is also possible because I’m somewhat deaf on account of persistent ear wax…”
I’m unfortunately unable to spare the time necessary to verify this piece of DVD commentary either as I’m currently working my way through the seemingly endless back catalogue of first-person cycle-commuter GoPro video footage that I’ve committed to in the interests of enhancing my understanding of traffic safety issues before passing judgement on whether Toby King’s Smart Hat helmet design is likely to improve safety for cyclists in Australia.

Apparently “it annoys drivers that cyclists can get away with breaking road rules,” so a practical solution like this is a welcome addition to the conversation. Simply strapping a bubble-jet printer to the head of every cyclist could see many road safety concerns become distant memories like, um, bubble-jet printers.

In reality though, it’s of little consequence whether or not legendary Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson did actually utter this phrase—and of even less as to whether I’ve got the time to confirm it or whether bubble-jet printers are a functional piece of cycling safety equipment—because in this case, like most, by the time someone makes the call it’s already too late. When a mountain bike ride reaches this stage many riders will already be engaged in the passionate throes of lovemaking with whatever spiders have been wooed on short notice from the surrounding bushland.

Thankfully, there is a fantastic product available from TPC Components that aims to minimise time lost to these frustrating delays. The Spider Copulation Aide is an all-in-one, compact, arachno-fornication solution designed specifically for the rigours of offroad use. At the first sign of spider-related romance simply remove the kit from its handy quick-release under-saddle storage clasp, open the two Velcro™ straps and get down to business. It will help get the job done quickly and cleanly, leaving more time for riding, or making fantasy film trilogies, or whatever it was that you were doing before the irritating, though undoubtedly romantic, interlude.

2013 Tour Divide runner-up (although technically it's not a race) Jesse Carlsson has done extensive testing on early prototypes of the Spider Copulation Aide.

The kit opens up to reveal all the essential items for the task at hand: disposable latex gloves, fine point tweezers and a magnifying glass. Although it would be nice to believe that arachnophilia is a purely consensual act of romantic expression between mountain biker and spider, the unfortunate reality is that restraints will be required. Thankfully the kit includes a set of eight adjustable miniature leg cuffs—as well as a matching feather boa and some scented massage oil. In response to a raft of criticism levelled at TPC Components after a glaring omission from their last offering—the Inner-Urban Multi Tool—the kit also includes a cleverly integrated bottle opener.

The Spider Copulation Aide stows away conveniently under the saddle.

For the European market, where the phrase’s Australian vernacular would only generate confusion, it will be marketed simply as the “Let’s Go Do Something Kit” and will dispense with the arachnid-specific copulation tools in favour of a laminated motivational image that should achieve the same purpose.

From the makers of the Spider Copulation Aide—The “Let’s Go Do Something Kit”

For those not willing to fork out the $499 recommended retail price, Kiwi company i_candy also offers the “we’re not here to fuck spiders” greeting card online for the low, low price of just NZ$6.90 (plus shipping). It might be worth stocking up on these to hand out at Sydney local council meetings when the road safety debate inevitably turns in to an abusive slanging match between cycling advocates and the pro-bubble jet printer lobby.

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