Jul 19, 2013
by Riley Mcintosh  
Press image from Riley MacIntosh by Paris Gore

My friends and I are constantly coming up with ‘Imagine if’s.’ For example, we finish a splendid bike ride but at the bottom are already saying, ‘Imagine if the trail crossed that road there and went up Grouse Hill and went to the end of the Peninsula.’ Or: ‘Imagine if there was a trail off Hill 60. That thing would be like seven kilometers of ridge descending.....’ We say these things even as we speed across the ocean, at sunset, having just ridden 2,000 feet of bliss, straight to a boat and a cooler full of beer.

The ideas are endless. Perhaps too many ideas are a bad thing. Novelist Ann Brashares said, ‘Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.’ Is riding your bike down a twisting, snaking, radical trail and spitting out at its terminus already thinking about your next ride a bad thing? Is spending hours upon hours daydreaming about the possibility of new trails on different mountains, valleys and distant ridges a bad thing? No. Or is it?

Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said, ‘Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ Our world lacks in that attitude. Marketing, purchasing, sales, and needing more is a way of life. We buy a new truck we have lusted after; and within a month are already visualizing being behind the wheel of something we perceive as better. The same goes with bikes, clothing, houses, perhaps even in a creepy way, people. The media blazes forth on all cylinders: images of the happy and beautiful, the idealistic.

Press image from Riley MacIntosh by Paris Gore

Bike trails are innately awesome. Here are a couple reasons why: One, they are just paths through the woods meant to be ridden for fun. When chocked up against pathways in other parts of the globe, perhaps used as escape routes from murderous rebels or as travel routes by child soldiers, our bike trails are the coolest thing around. We are spoiled to have them. Two: our bike trails allow us to connect to our landscape, to rip along terra firma and become blasted with endorphins, serotonin and adrenalin to bathe our senses. They allow us to understand what’s good.

However, the ‘Imagine If’ syndrome persists. One bike trail could be much better. It could continue farther, have better jumps, or better corners. There is nothing wrong with thinking this, because bike trails are meant to be fun, and improving them is a natural thing to desire.

But contentment is tough. It is hard to be 100-percent happy with what you have. Perhaps there were times when humans didn't hanker after more than what they had. Maybe Inuits in the Yukon didn't get sick of the sub-50 winters because they had no idea going south would mean warmer temperatures. Possibly, that is all they knew. Conceivably, the world stopped there.

Press image from Riley MacIntosh by Dave Silver

If we could finish a bike ride, could navigate the ladder bridges, rip through the rocks, and lay into the berms, and roll to a stop feeling truly, unyieldingly satisfied - that would be a very good thing. And it happens, that perfect moment. There is no doubting it; the moment when your tires grip, then let loose, sending you into just the right drift, then catching, hooking up, and reigning you in, ejecting you out of a corner like a cannon: Just like Gee Atherton or Steve Smith. But in that instant, you are just you. You are the fastest, most graceful rider on earth.

But later, after the ride is done, your mind begins to wander again. You chastise yourself for not drifting every corner on every trail like a hero. You think perhaps, if you had a fancier bike, more carbon, better suspension, that things might work out better. Your hometown trails suddenly seem small, and photos of the Alps, or the Himalayas, pervade your psyche. Your mind creates images of trails winding downwards along pristine alpine ridges, glowing in the golden hue of twilight; thousands of berms carved among thousand year old cedar trees. Ladder bridges crafted like Dr. Suess’ artwork - flowing and gorgeous.

Press image from Riley MacIntosh

The reality is, your local trails probably don’t look like that. Imagining the trails that could be can be dangerous. Because the trails you have are the real thing. There is nothing wrong with having lofty ambitions, or preoccupation, but it should be reined in before you drift away into the clouds. The truth lies in what you have, what you can touch, what you can feel, what you have access to.

And the secret is so obvious, but sometimes easy to forget. Those moments when your tires drift and you are a hero, you are riding exactly like Gee Atherton would, are flawless. And the subtle thing is that you are in fact most definitely not Gee Atherton, you are yourself. When you are riding down a ridgeline, the fact that it doesn't extend thousands of feet downwards like the ones in Switzerland or Peru is meaningless. This ridgeline is yours, right now. This moment is unblemished, and nothing else matters. In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘We need much less than we think we need.’ Perhaps, if you are out in the woods riding a mountain bike, you have enough.

Image from the boat crossing


  • + 177
 That was so deep. I think I saw Adele rolling in it
  • + 19
 Imagine if there's no pain or broken stuff no matter how hard we crash..
  • + 5
 or no broken bones and endless road gap,always doing a road trips with your buddies all over the world,imagine if there is no job,just riding Canada and every other trails,it's a really nice story and everybody should try with ''imagine if''
  • - 4
flag mb00033 (Jul 21, 2013 at 12:50) (Below Threshold)
 Love the Lennon parody bro Smile
  • + 58
 Imagine if I had enough money to travel to BC..
  • + 43
 Yeah, I'm 27 and riding hard for last 4 years, now i'm semi-proffesional team rider,and i feel capable for some serious challanges, but ... living in Europes Mexico commonly called Poland, has its limits. Despite of this, there are some great events over_the_great_see that motivates me to work harder, think sharper, make some wise choices in my non_riding_life, to be able to finance and get enough free time to participate as a rider in BC, Mongolia Challange Orbea, UCI Enduro, and many more, before i hit 30.
As far as i got lately SC Bronson C, and nice set of protectives, already tested, but "real" live as some would say is worst thing ever. Non of my friends isnt riding bike anymore, they got wifes, kids, new extra high_salary jobs made them slaves, because they now feel so responsible for their work that even 1hr evening trip XC style ride is inapropriate, risky stuff, so the scenario that would be possible 2-3 years ago : "Come'on Buddy we will go to BC ( Yeah tahts in Canada ) next month ! Meet some nice girls , ride some hardcore stuff, you ll fieel destroyed-inside and satysfied waaaaay beyod sex experiences you ever had , after whole 7-day eventBig Grin " will never happen.
Ppl maturate faster than i would imagine, killing themselves for money, house_responsibilities, buying houses, cars dogs doing lots of stuff that isnt their passion. I cant imagine that 90% of civilized earth population, wants same shit : Earn'n'buy things they dont really need, thinking that having a house as everyone else has, will let them feel "completed".

Now, enough of my poor life story, we were on "IF's" . IF the ppl would do some effort to find their passion and IF they would follow it, THEN earth would be better place to live. /endsub Razz
  • + 8
 I can feel what you say. I share a similar situation, but let me tell you something.
Money should mean freedom not slavery. I know it is a difficult thing to achieve but I think life is about the balance of all of the important parts of your life. Someone that is only focused on riding might end alone as the one that only seeks for money. Stephen Covey gives us a good light on how to achive this balance (you know the 7 habits...).

Being responsible at your job has nothing to do to spend 16h at your job. Sometimes being responsible means go home, have fun with your family and have fun riding. Then came back the next morning being happy and your batteries at 100%. If you don't do that you will burn fast and at the end you will cost more money to the company (wrong decisions, bad energy, etc...).
I do sport for fun, it frees my mind, and mountain biking is one of the best sports at transporting you to another world for some hours. And sometimes is good to shred alone, you and your bike. I feel I connect better with nature when riding alone than when riding with lots of friends.

The good thing also about mountain biking is that you will find very good friends on the road, and some of them would love to travel to BC also!
Have fun as long as you can! Keep riding hard for as long as you can!
  • + 1
 That's what i do Smile
My job has nothing to do with biking, it keeps me satysfied i can advance from time to time, keeps the tension and let me feel the overall progress at one hand, but on the other hand i love to warp somewhere to the woods right after it, when was done what had to be done, and continue progress there.
However there is some ppl i know, that some extra $$ in salary turned their brains into concrete pulp, ex biker says now he wants to work 200h/mth, md-st, instead of free the mind, get some air, sweat, get some scars, like it was back in the days. "He" is lost somewhere and i cant turn him back on bright_side of biking Big Grin
I hope one day I'll find one of You on the trail, Say Hello and find out that we're heading ex. BC soon Big Grin
There is something in BC Formula in Scotland i think, but i lost name of it, maybe next year Razz
  • + 3
 @mroowka "Now, enough of my poor life story, we were on "IF's" . IF the ppl would do some effort to find their passion and IF they would follow it, THEN earth would be better place to live"

I was thinking about it for a long time after watching Senna movie and some motivational stuff from guys like Tony Robbins. Then I heard that vid with Alan Watts speaking in the background "what if money were no object". After long time ponderin gthe issue I came to a conclusion that if everyone actualy did that, all males in the west would be F1 drivers, DH world cup racers, painters, singers, fighter pilots, firemen or pornstars if you like.

Who would do the actual work? Beatiful sound needs great silence, cup needs water or it is useless. We have the big trouble in appreciating simple everyday things, because we are bombarded with someone elses stoke. And we lie to ourselves that we would be happy living someone elses life...
  • + 1
 There is some deep philosphy in it and bold dumbness as well mixed together. If everyone would put some effort, trying many things, whats much more simplier when "money are no object", using their brains more often , then finding ones own passion -would happen, instead of copying someone elses ideas. ex Fashion ( you were born unique, why now you want to look the same as the others ). Many factors determine ones own dedication to doing something, some may be as much as we (bikers) happy with collecting stamps, one would love to get whole lineup of Mustang cars, one would get to the moon, there is some activities that has to be done in grous as well as by a one single man, everyone may have it's own preferences, thats the point, try, pick one you like the most, do it.
One desire to become DH pro , and one may be as much happy just hanging around lokal forests, only ppl with not enough will and self confidence would follow, thats what i wished my younger brother today ( b.day) to do whatever You want to do, buy a car and crash it, get a house - fire it up Razz What's for other ppl, isn't for You. Find Your own way, and everything else will come to you.
  • - 2
 Heh that's the whole trouble: find your own way. How do you recognize what is that right optimal way, when do you fall into short sighted comfort or self-entertainment, when do you fall into super-hard ardous work leading to nothing? I love how Watts puts it in "dreaming your own life".

I think I am erasing What-if from my life completely
  • + 2
 @mroowka, in the first comment, i thought i was reading my life lol !! Big Grin
  • + 1
 ^Thanks for the insight guys, I enjoyed reading your takes on life as much as this excellent column. I too can relate to much of what's been said here.
  • + 17
 Imagine if Gee Atherton read this article, and you were like "you are in fact most definitely not Gee Atherton" and then he'd be like "I so totally and most definitely AM Gee Atherton!"
  • + 1
  • + 24
 Gee Atherton cant read.
  • + 4
 Gee atherton doesn't need to read.
  • + 7
 Totally agree. But you know what? I'm still dreaming big. BIG!

At work, in bed, watching a movie, or on the toilet... I can't stop thinking about the next section of bench cut and what feature would fit perfectly with the terrain.

For some of us, building and the never ending pursuit of trail perfection... that is the fun, as much fun as riding. Some call it an addiction. For us crazy bastards who hike tools into the woods every Sunday at 7am or take vacation days from our real jog to dig dirt for free, this is life and we're loving it.

Just wait until you see what we've been digging on for the past two months. It'll blow your freaking mind. The local riding scene will never be the same. Shit's about to get epic.
  • + 6
 IMAGINE IF Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today... Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace... You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world... You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will live as one
  • + 1
 Look at ants nest, one word , one purpose , different "jobs" predetermined biologically , no cywil-war inside, there is a queen, soldiers , workers , babys, no religion or any competing organisations fighting for their priveliges aganist the others, there is order chain, clear hierarchy , simple as that.
People cant/dont want to/dont know how to fully accept pure existence of others, and generally contribute to society.
Want more ? do more first. go to school, learn something usefull there, sell it with good will, earn and spend money with no harm to others, but NO my/our god is superior and he "says" what we must do to Big Grin we have to, we must, all that with no common sense is nothing, but manipulation. Buy Nikes they say, ok. Big Grin go to war ,ok Big Grin there is new movie you will die if you wont see it Big Grin
Best thing ever is to turn on TV on the weeknd and just brainlesly suck all it got Big Grin Total commitment to energy consumption Big Grin
  • + 4
 it's a very sad day when john lennon's lyrics geht neg propped.
  • + 1
 Damm right JzPV
  • + 8
 Excellent read, loved it as I suffer alot from the I'm not rich psyche xD
  • + 2
 Good read!

To sum it up; the age old saying "The grass is always greener"; and in today's world we should all be greatful for what we have.

If having the ability to get out on the bike a few times a week makes you happy then excellent; desiring more from the sport is not a bad thing, but being realistic in what you desire in relation to what you really need is what is important.

Cant wait for work to finish at 5:30, and get out in the summer sun for a rip then BBQ with the family; that's healthy desire in my books Smile
  • + 6
 Imagine if there were mountains in Denmark...
  • + 1
  • + 1
 This article was well timed as i'm currently in morzine sulking because we just drove up to les gets and the rain came down soooo heavy so we decided to have a full day off. I know theres people who will never get to cone here and ride these tracks but it doesnt stop me been annoyed that i've wasted a day here. thanks riley for putting things into perspective.
  • + 1
 Lets look at this from another perspective. While I agree and empathize with all the above points I wonder how we'd all fell if we 'imagined if' in the other direction. Imagine if we didn't get even that 1 hr ride in, imagine if we lived in a war torn torn country where we couldn't ride at all, imagine if there were zombies on the on trail ! We're all insanely lucky to have riding, my imagine if is, imagine if I spent all my Sundays hungover instead of taking life in on a trail somewhere !
  • + 4
 10 FIND "trail"
20 RIDE "trail"
30 IF "trail" = TRUE GOTO 20
40 IF "trail" = FALSE GOTO 10
  • + 2
 So a very accurate article about being content with what we have followed on the homepage with pinkbikes product picks. Kinda makes it hard not to want more.
  • + 4
 The last sentence said it all
  • + 1
 Found myself saying imagine if a couple days ago, then went and rode a local trail yesterday. Came to realize that that trail is one of the best trails I've ever ridden. Better than a lot of bike park trails I've ridden.
  • + 2
 So simple, yet so hard to achieve. But those moments when all falls together are worth living for Smile A great piece.
  • + 1
 Imagine if: You live on the North Shore, have a stable of bikes food on the table, roof over my head and a job............What else do I need? More time off Smile
  • + 2
 Wow words of someone who is thusly passionate about the sport!! Words of a poet!!
  • + 1
 the long dark nights of winter are my 'what if" time to imagine and build. And when the long balmy days of summer return, dreams are reality.

nice one Riley!
  • + 1
 Nice article... very well done. We all should read this and RETAIN some of it. I fear most will not however...
  • + 1
 Live for the ride, what ever & where ever it is!
  • + 1
 Words from the straight from the soul
  • + 1
 If only i had a real bike
  • + 1
 so true - live in the moment :-)
  • + 1
 This was a great article to read before work tomorrow morning.
  • + 2
 I enjoyed this.
  • + 1
 Imagine if I had whistler in my garden
  • + 1
 Great piece of writing. Pretty inspirational.
  • + 1
 wise man

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