At what point is it more than bike riding? If you are reading this, you should know of a rider by the name of Trond Hansen. He is one of the most naturally talented bike riders I have ever seen. He came onto the scene hard with an attitude to the contrary. Rather than the traditional come up of being young, hungry and serious, he was in his mid 20's, had fun, enjoyed riding with friends and organically turned into a big name pro without really “trying.” His attitude was always,”It's just bike riding man.” He and Andreu had coined a phrase or maybe even just a word: “Shakalamero.” Two guys, A Spaniard and Norwegian who were always smiling, with no worries, came up with a word to simply describe life just being good. And they both lived by it. Andreu is a little more spun out than Tron, to say the least, but Trond came on to the scene fast, picked up two of the most coveted sponsors in Specialized and Rockstar, filmed legendary film segments, was on the cover of numerous magazines, nearly landed the biggest 360 ever done on dirt, and eventually left just as quickly as he showed up. It had turned into his job, but was still ”just bike riding man.”
Trond Hansen, scrubbing with style.
He stayed a legit pro for a few years and eventually quit. He didn't fade out, or milk a salary like he could have, he turned down offers and told his sponsors that he wasn't a pro bike rider anymore. The last time I saw Trond, he had left professional bike riding and seemed happy, like always. He will be fine with or without bike riding. He will always be fine and one of the coolest people I have ever met, but something was missing. He still rides and thought leaving the profession behind would leave just that, but there was a lot more that had come in those years. He left behind a group of friends, relationships, and a lifestyle. He had become a mountain biker. That shit just doesn't leave you.
No matter if you are a weekend warrior or World Cup vet, there are people you ride with that you would have never met or probably never gotten along with without mountain biking. We have posters, garages and yards dedicated to our favorite hobby, sport or whatever you consider it to be. We dedicate days off, trips and afternoons to riding bikes and hanging out with people that share the same passion you do for it. It is more than just a friend that you have experienced some things with; a riding buddy is a much bigger bond even if the only time you hang out is when you ride together. Not everyone that has ridden a mountain bike is spoken for, but at what point is it more than bike riding?
I firmly believe mountain biking creates one of the most addicting and pertinent lifestyles of all sports, even though the marketing of it is little to none. We have hardcore addicts, kids with after school slopestyle and racing training programs, the guy who spends more time buying and installing ti-bolts for his 29er than riding it, daredevil nutcases, technicians, purists, snobs and some of the most genuine people on the planet. Good friends, exercise, exploration, family bonding, no matter what reason that brought you into the sport, you are left with far more.
My dad got my brother and I into mountain biking as an activity that we could all do together because he had really bad arthritic hips and couldn't play baseball or soccer with us. Seemed to work out pretty well, and I can almost guarantee that I won't be able to play baseball or soccer with my kids after the shit I have put my body through. Hopefully my kids think mountain biking is as cool as I did because listening to Prairie Home Companion in our motorhome on our way to Northstar, Mammoth Nationals, and across the country for other races are the best memories I will ever have with my dad and brother. Mountain biking brought us closer together than anything else could have. Win or lose, the trip itself was always the best part. We would not have had those trips if it weren't for our love for mountain bikes. Then, it turned into a lot more than just a bunch of family trips...
Bike riding is a way to explore. In particular, mountain biking is a way to explore nature and the world. I would not have been to a quarter of the places I have been if it weren't for mountain biking, and everywhere I go the bicycle is still just as big of an asset and it's value translates into every culture around the world. Life Cycles said it best,”The bicycle, man's noblest invention.” It is the most economic, and cleanest form of transportation. Any hippie who wants to shut a trail down should be thrown in a compost pile because, other than walking, there is no better way to experience nature without damaging the environment than the bicycle. Bicycle riders truly take care of the environment and enjoy living in it. It is more than just riding, it's a catalyst for experiencing the outdoors. We have organizations such as IMBA, but any trail builder and respectable trail rider knows the importance of taking care of the planet.
My list of reasons why it is just more than bike riding can go on for pages and I'm sure you would further be able to make additions. The point is we all have it in our blood and if I didn't ride tomorrow, I would still be a mountain biker.
While writing this article, (it usually takes me a couple weeks of reviewing to finish...) I saw Trond at Red Bull Bergline, where he was judging. You will be happy to know that he is back riding on the regular. After telling him the premise for this article and asking if he still believed it, he said,” It is more than bike riding. It is.” - Cam Zink