From the Mag: Life in the Knee of the Curve


Whenever I meet people for the first time, they quickly become aware that I’m obsessed with mountain biking. “Gee, you ride a lot, you must be really good.” I could reply “No”, which is somewhat of a lie, because when I’m out riding I’m generally passing other trail riders on the uphill and downhill, rather than being passed myself. So I could reply “Yes”, which is also a lie because most of my friends can out-ride me with skill, fitness, flair and style that I can only dream about.

What is this dual existence? How can I ride past strangers like they’re going backwards only to be resoundingly dusted by my mates? Obviously I need to provide this graph:



If you can remember back to your high school maths classes, the X-axis represents all the mountain bikers in New Zealand and the Y-axis represents how talented they are on a mountain bike—radness being the technical term. So by my calculations, while I’m more rad than a lot of the mountain bikers in New Zealand, the remaining mountain bikers are substantially more rad than me.

This curved line flying past me and rocketing to unattainable heights of radness is the wallride I’ll never rail at full height, the quarter pipe I’ll never fufanu, the kicker I’ll never backflip off. Even at the less rock star end of the riding spectrum, it’s the wet log I’ll dab on, the vertical drop I’ll stall at the top of, the pinch climb that will leave me gasping and defeated. This doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying myself, but after spending twenty years scrabbling at the same skill level, I’d love to be just a bit higher on that curve.

I asked some maths geeks about this and the term for where I sit is “the knee of the curve”, which isn’t nearly as hardcore or impressive as “living on the edge”, but it will have to do.

“Gee, you ride a lot, you must be really good.”