From the first day I picked up a mountain bike I have fallen in love with this sport. As my kids and I have introduced people to the sport I use the line “…it’s the funnest thing that I have found as an adult that can get me to feel like a kid again.” often to describe my feelings on the sport. Obviously the challenges and sensations that riding a mountain bike provide are a huge part of the initial appeal. After the initial appeal subdues (I can’t say wears off because that never really happens) the other things people first notice about mountain biking is the laid back aspect of it. Even the racers, while they are typically competitive by nature are generally stoked to see other riders out on the trails.
Mountain biking has been the most inviting sport I’ve ever participated in. When my kids and I first got into it every single person we met was more than stoked to see new guys out on the trails. Races that I took my kids to in Southridge were just full of other riders stoked as hell to see kids showing up and ready to shred. The atmosphere has always been full of enthusiasm for fellow riders. Initially people were more than eager to offer advice and encouraging words. People I had barely even met invited me out on rides with them, shared beers, gave me pointers on trying features and getting around obstacles and never seemed to judge when anyones comfort level wasn’t up for trying something new. We all love to watch people’s stoke when they clean something that they weren’t previously able to, but at the same time no one was trying to watch anyone wipe out and get hurt.
As far as gear and bikes it’s always been a run what you brung type of setting. We are always more concerned with seeing everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves regardless of what they are riding or wearing. We all have those friends that ride crazy old bikes or some ridiculous setup but no one cares. As long as we’re all having a blast no one really gives two shits about your rig. My kids and I always keep around helmets or parts that we’ve replaced but are still good to hand down to someone who might be new to the sport in order to keep them stoked or help them out if it happens to be a safety issue. That is just how we are, we want to ride in large groups and have everyone share in the good times and the fun.
For a brief amount of time I owned a road bike. Now this doesn’t apply to every roadie out there but there are definitely a lot more snooty peeps on the road side than the off-road side. We’re very much two different animals. I’ve had a few sneers and shitty remarks while hanging with the road kind on equipment and kits. Not always directed at me but that doesn’t change anything. Some people just don’t get that not everyone has a spare five grand to spend on a middle of the pack bike when they first start into the sport. Bikes are not cheap, it is definitely an expensive ass addiction that we have allowed to put us under its constricting grip. But as long as people are having fun who gives a shit what they’re on? As long as they’re having a great time that is all that matters. We don’t know their situations. It should all be about the fun and not the brand of anything. I’ve slowly started to see this a bit in our mountain bike communities. It’s not prevalent but it’s definitely starting to rear its head.
As far as I’m concerned I just want to see everyone having a blast. I really don’t care what brand frame you’re on, size wheels you’re running, if you have a dropper post, what decade your bike was manufactured in or any of that shit. Lets just ride and have some fun! As long as in your own head you feel like you’re ripping that berm a new one, going faster than you’ve ever gone down this chute that had been psyching you out until now and getting more air than you’ve ever gotten off that one intimidating jump on your favorite trail… thats all that matters. You’re friends are all thinking all those same things and we all have a blast! Once we’re done we all hang out and share some kick ass beer and talk about the trail or laugh about some crash we almost had through the rock garden because we came in a little too hot. Best thing about riding mountain bikes is that you have no choice, it forces you to forget about normal life for a while. You’re out in the woods life doesn’t involve work stress and bills, we leave all that shit at home. Even I often have to remind myself to leave my camera behind and just ride and enjoy the trail and my bike without the influence of my camera calling to me from within the depths of my camera pack. If I do stop, its to stop and take in the views and the fresh air…and to tease the mosquitoes! I’m like a dinner bell, I stop long enough for them to sense me and head over to my buffet and just when they’re getting ready to chow down I say later you glittery vampires and take off!
This post is just a bit of a rant from my own observations although I doubt I’m the only one that’s seen this happening. We’re all humans, it’s all dirt and we all eat that same dirt when we eat shit out on the trails. Lets just get out there and have a good time and forget about the rest. Run what you brung and grow that stoke that you only get from mountain biking. Teach all kids the same. Lets not let our sport go the way of road biking or soccer. We don’t all need to be in Adidas gear from head to toe to be a cool soccer player. We’re mountain bikers, not roadies.
Helmet? Check. Bike? Check. Post ride brews? Check. Let’s fucking go then! And don’t forget to stop and tease the skeeters!