Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my bike, But it’s not why I love the sport; it’s just a tool to get me out there and back home safely. The reason I ride is not because of the bike, or the gear; those things don’t even make the list. While gear can make things easier and more comfortable, what really matters is the fun, the people, and the experiences that we have while out on the trails.
It doesn’t matter if I am out riding my beat up commuter around town or my new 29er in the mountains; as soon as I start pedaling I can feel the smile spread on my face and the life breathing back into me.
I am not saying that all time spent on the noblest invention of all time is rainbows and happy feelings. There are some painful, grueling times as well. What do you remember when you tell your friends about your last ride? Do you talk about that climb where your legs were screaming at you, or do you tell the tales of how much fun you had with your friends, finally clearing that hard bit of trail or the deer in the meadow you came across, or even that super flowy bit of trail where you felt one with your metal steed?
I have been riding mountain bikes for almost 30 years now, and I have yet to tire of the thrill of making it to the top of a climb or of sitting at the top of a mountain and just soaking in the amazing views. I was on a quick after-work-ride the other day just smiling at the sound that my tires made as I glided along the trail. It was just a wonderful moment after a long day at the office that reminded me how much I love mountain biking.
It is really hard to tell people why I love this sport so much, not because I have no passion for it but because so much of what I love is not tangible. The thrill of effortlessly gliding down a little ribbon of brown dirt, the sound of the air rushing past your ears, the smell of the forest on a hot day, road trips with good friends and the laughs that we have out riding. There is just so much about this sport to love it’s hard to convey all that to someone and have them get it.
Often times they ask me how much my bike costs, or assume that every time I am hurt I did it out on my bike. If they knew how amazing I feel after a ride, that riding my bike makes me feel young, and that exploring, enjoying nature and hanging out with friends are why I ride maybe they would understand my passion for the sport. But all they see is an expensive bike without a motor and marketing that shows people riding off cliffs – to them it looks expensive and dangerous.
The great thing about mountain biking is that it can be exactly what you want it to be: do you want an adrenaline rush, to push your boundaries, or do you want to go out and enjoy nature, explore and get away from the hustle and bustle? It can be all of those things and none of it is about the bike we ride, it’s all about our experience and what you want to get out of it.
It’s not the bike or bling that is important: It’s the people, the adventure, the laughter and the community. Without any of that, mountain biking would just be all marketing buzzwords and extreme sport fodder….but it is so much more than that and it’s that passion that will show people the true heart of the sport.
I challenge you to go out and tell people the fun stories, the good times and show them why you love to mountain bike. Leave the expensive bikes, the unfortunate crashes and scars out of it; that’s not why we ride and it’s not what will get people excited and open to the possibilities that mountain biking has to offer.