Marketing geeks love to show mountain biking as an adrenaline sport. They’re not completely wrong … but there’s more to it than bug-eyed, stimulant-addled, body armor-wearing, bro-speaking dudes plunging off 50-foot drops on engineless motorcycles.
Even early on in my 20-plus years as a mountain biker, I found something different in my mountain bike experience. From the time I developed confidence in my skills, I’ve found peace in a good ride.
When I hear the hum of my tires on dirt and feel the transmission of energy through my bike’s frame, I exist in a very calming place. My mind is free to wander. It’s there, in that state, that I often make creative leaps. You wouldn’t believe how many work ideas come to me as I guide my bike through the desert.
I explained this to a co-worker the other day. He asked me a question about a project that he was working on. I gave him some ideas, and he said “This is why I like talking to you.”
I consider this a great compliment. But it’s not always easy for me to accept a compliment without some explanation; I told him that I’d put a lot of thought into this recently. And because he’s a creative guy, I explained that many of my best ideas come to me while I ride … and that I’d been thinking about projects and questions like his a lot. I figured he’d enjoy getting some idea of where my mind goes to generate thoughts that turn into good projects and concepts.
He instantly grasped the state of mind that I find in a good mountain bike ride. Some get there by sitting zazen. Maybe mountain biking is my meditation, my direct route to letting everything in my world pass through my head … and grabbing what I need while discarding the useless.
This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with chasing an adrenaline high or craving the soaring heart rate of cross-country racing. I think any activity would be terribly dull if we all rode for the same reasons, the same way. If everyone was like me, mountain biking would stagnate. We’d be worse off for it.
But … I’d like you to think about why you ride. Write something about it, either here or on your own blog, website or social media outlet. Let me know about it so I can respond and share it with other people. I want to hear what makes you go for a ride. We might teach the marketing geeks something about why mountain bikers exist.