To be a mountain biker

This post was inspired by an article by the same title that was published in a mountain biking magazine that I read in the early nineties. I think it was “Bike” magazine. I can’t find it anywhere online and I will pay good money for a copy of it if someone has it.

I resonated with the list in that article; I guess there are many things about the awesome sport of mountain biking that most mountain bikers will be able to identify with. The thing about mountain biking is that it does become an identity thing. It’s not just something that you do, it’s something you are. I don’t just ride a mountain bike, I am a mountain biker.

I’ve tried to find that article (it was a cover story), but I have been unsuccessful. I wanted to use it as a starting point for this post. Nevertheless, I’ve decided, some twenty years after reading that article, to compile my own list. I plan to add to it again and again as new things come up and as I remember other things that are worthy of being on the list. Individually these things are insignificant, but together they have meaning. Although they are things that one can do, they are much more than mere things that can be done; these things define what it means to be a mountain biker

(These things are not listed in any particular order, chronological or otherwise, and the things which follow the things earlier on the list are not necessarily related to each other).

  • Think “as long as I’m able to ride my bike, all will be ok with the world”
  • Dream of flowing single-track
  • If you could only afford one bike, it would be a mountain bike
  • Always be thinking, “I wish I was mountain biking”
  • Ride as often as you can
  • Discover a new trail
  • Say to your friend at the trailhead of a new trail, “follow me.”
  • learn how to bunny-hop
  • bunny-hop up stairs
  • ride down stairs
  • crash riding down stairs (in front of people)
  • Put your foot down in ankle deep mud while trying to ride through it
  • Try to get started again
  • Dab your other foot down in the mud
  • Ride through mud and then grass and for the grass to form a a perfect matrix for the mud to be held together by
  • come home freckled with mud
  • watch a downhill mountain biking DVD
  • Get amped and inspired and all excited and think you can do the same
  • Go riding straight after watching that DVD
  • Crash hard
  • spend all your money on bike stuff
  • own a bike that costs more than your car
  • get a new car that cost more than the bike
  • have a great bike stolen
  • Get the bike back
  • Get sponsored to ride
  • Get old, fat and slow
  • Get in shape again, and have mountain biking to thank
  • read about a new technique in a mountain biking magazine
  • try out the new technique
  • buckle your rim
  • try to straighten your rim with your own spoke spanner
  • decide its better for the bike shop to take a look at it
  • build a new trail and hide it from your friends
  • build a jump
  • crash riding the jump you built
  • start mountain biking with rigid forks, when the only trails on the mountain are hiking trails and horse trails
  • hate horses because they stuff up trails
  • feel indignant because horses are allowed on parts of the mountain which mountain bikers are banned from
  • crash hard
  • check to see if your bike is ok before you check your own injuries (because bodies heal, but bikes don’t)
  • ride the argus cycle tour every year on a mountain bike
  • ride a twenty four hour race
  • break your dropout
  • take your chain off and scoot yourself home
  • ride the whole enchilada and the slick rock of Moab
  • lean forward to see your suspension fork working
  • ride a cross country lap race
  • take part in frenetic start and sprint to the first single-track
  • ride a mountain bike marathon
  • be amazed at the difference riding a full suspension makes
  • ride a section of trail really well
  • go home to see how you did on Strava
  • realise its not a segment
  • make a new segment on Strava
  • think you’ve done well all these years not to have broken your collarbone
  • break your collarbone
  • Go for a wet ride and thoroughly enjoy it
  • Go for the next ride and hate the two clicks up, one click down necessary to shift one gear
  • install Gore ride-on cables
  • Enjoy perfect shifting in all conditions
  • wonder why they don’t come standard on all bikes
  • hit a slippery root at an angle other than 90 degrees
  • crash, narrowly avoiding a nasty looking stump
  • ride a trail you’ve done many times but at the last moment pick a different line for some reason
  • crash hard enough to actually crack your helmet
  • read about an awesome new trail in a blog
  • put it on your “to do” list
  • ride a race, be amazed with the awesomeness of the trail
  • check Strava and realise you can tick riding that trail from your list
  • ride an illegal trail not realising it was illegal
  • get caught and fined and have to get a lawyer to sort it out
  • ride an illegal trail knowing full well its illegal
  • be uncaught to this day
  • have your pedal slam into your shin
  • ride into a tree
  • go for a long ride without taking enough water
  • go for a long ride without taking enough food
  • hit the wall
  • realise you’ve hit the wall by losing concentration and crashing
  • Ride into deep shade from bright sun and, because you are wearing sunglasses, not be able to see a thing, and guess where the trail is
  • Enjoy a great trail through a pine forest
  • Have the trail destroyed when the pine forest is felled
  • Ride in a place for long enough to have see the saplings planted after the felling, grow and be felled themselves
  • Think camelbacks are cool
  • Think camelbacks are not cool
  • Be at work on a Monday, look at the mountain, and wish you were mountain biking
  • Take a Monday off work and go mountain biking
  • Flick a pine cone into your buddy’s spokes with your front wheel
  • Try to flick a rock by mistake and dent your front rim
  • Ride next to a puddle to avoid getting wet and get wet instead by your riding buddy bunny hopping into the puddle and splashing you
  • Try to get him back at the next puddle but wet yourself more in the process
  • Ride on the mountain and have all the mountain bikes wave and greet you with a smile
  • Ride on the road, wave to the roadies, and be ignored most of the time
  • Wake up before dark to ride a trail out of town
  • Start the trail in sub-zero conditions
  • Ride at high altitude, suffer, and understand why it is no wonder that Switzerland produces so many world class mountain bikers
  • Crash, land on your park tool multitool in your back pocket and get a perfectly rectangular bruise
  • Have a chain snap while standing up and hammering the pedals
  • Read a bike magazine and flip through 90% of it because if you’ve read the article “10 tips to make this summer your fastest” once you’ve read it, and others like it, a hundred times
  • Read up on the founders of mountain biking
  • Service your suspension fork
  • Find an internal part from the suspension fork after you’ve re-assembled the fork
  • attempt to true a buckled rim
  • create a flat-spot in the rim while trying to true the rim
  • take the rim in to your local bike shop to get it properly trued by a professional
  • stop while riding next to a river, just to listen to the sound of the river
  • enjoy the smell of decomposing leaves
  • jump and land perfectly on the landing ramp
  • jump and dent your rear wheel on the lip of the landing ramp
  • while climbing, pedal while your rear wheel is going over a slippery root, and lose traction and momentum
  • go for a night ride and be stoked
  • get irritated with red rear lights on the mountain, especially the ones that flash
  • honestly believe that you have a shot at getting a great result at a race
  • suffer incredibly a quarter of the way into the race, face reality and think you’d gladly settle for a dignified finish
  • ride a dusty race, blow your nose afterwards, and see trail coloured snot
  • ride through sand on the mountain
  • ride on the beach, on hard sand and enjoy it
  • ride on the beach, on soft sand, and hate it
  • go camping with friends and leave them by the campsite while you go mountain biking
  • be so accustomed to unclipping your shoes from your peddles that you twist your foot off your accelerator peddle in your car
  • Think John Tomac is cool
  • Know who John Tomac is
  • Lead a race
  • Break a handlebar and crash hard
  • Be collected on route by the medics because your bike is trashed, and so are you
  • Get Northwave mountain bike shoes because Paolo Pezzo is cool
  • Know who Paolo Pezzo is
  • Think “as long as I’m able to ride my bike, all will be ok with the world”
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