Mountain biking as a sport is relatively young, but over the past few years we’ve seen a real growth in terms of participants and technology. One could almost compare it to the awkward ugly duckling growing into the suave beautiful swan. As our sport grows, we see more companies enter an increasingly aggressive market, more “innovative” products and companies employing skilled marketing departments convincing us their latest conception is “the next big thing.” Sometimes this can cloud our judgement on why we ride and what’s important to us. In the era of electronic suspension and gearing systems, are we forgetting the reason we were drawn to this niche sport in the first place?
Flowing singletrack in beautiful locationis what makes mountain biking special
Looking for inspiration, I relate back to one of my all time favourite films, Seasons. The Andrew Shandro feature is particularly poignant for me, and I’m likely responsible for a good 20% of the total Youtube views. Seeing it for the first time well over 6 years ago a key phrase struck home. As Andrew is riding through the trails with his young kid he utters something very important – “If I can find the time in the day to get out for a ride, even if it's for an hour, then that turns out to be a pretty good day.” And it strikes me that both Andrew and Lance Armstrong were right, it’s not about the bike. Not even slightly. It’s about the riding, the location and those people around you. Your bike is just a tool to transport you there. You can spend thousands of dollars on the latest bike, dripping carbon, titanium and whatever the latest wheel size is (I’d imagine it’ll have changed by the time this sees the light of day). But unless you don’t actually enjoy riding bikes then you won’t remember those lonely evenings in the garage polishing your new toy.
What you remember is hitting that berm so hard in Rotorua you thought you’d go through it, or threading the needle down mach speed single track in Queenstown! Your buddies whooping as you reinvent the possibilities of physics and ride out of something that had gone so impossibly wrong it leaves you laughing. What you’ve experienced there is mountain biking at its finest, and the reason we all partake in this sport – FUN!
Scything through berms in Rotorua
If you were to ask a child their first thought about mountain biking they would say “doing jumps and going fast in the woods” possibly with a mention of “look at my cut from falling off.” Conversely ask an adult the same question and you’ll likely get a response about the bike itself.
Mountain biking is after all a hobby, a passion and a past time that a few lucky and talented people can turn into a career. So what’s stopping us going back to basics and being more childlike and impulsive about riding? And before you say families and mortgages, these are not viable excuses.
Jumping natural root sections = FUN
Working on Shandro wisdom, all you need is an hour – a quick after work ride or a long lunch break. It’s up to you to make it happen, but I promise you the experience of riding your mountain bike will be a day changer. You’ll forget about rules and responsibilities, and hope the trail you’re riding can last forever. Sadly it cannot, but it is the living for the experience that counts. Regardless of whom you are, the experiences we stumble upon shape us and our perceptions, and here-in lies the importance of going back to basics, enjoying the ride, dreaming of the adventure and not focusing on the technology.
So next time you ride, take a brief moment to appreciate the technology that makes riding more accesable, but don’t forget what’s really important about mountain biking – friends, places & experiences!