‘I Started Seeing the Good in Life’ - What Do Mountain Biking’s New ‘Pandemic Riders’ Think of the Sport so Far?

Jan 15, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
James Jeannet and Dominick Menard through the trees and ferns deep in Mont Saint Anne QC.
2020 proved to be a great year for spending time in the woods.

Words: Alicia Leggett

This summer was a hectic one for the mountain bike world, with more riders on the trails than ever. While no one loves crowded parking at the local trailhead, I wanted to know: Who are these new riders and what was it like to start mountain biking in 2020?

I set out to talk to the people who started riding last year (or returned after a long hiatus) with some questions about how their inaugural mountain bike season went. I asked why they started riding and what they hope for in the future, and I learned something from each person I spoke with, even if I couldn't fit every conversation into the article. It's refreshing to hear new voices recognize the simple joy of spending time outside on two wheels.

I need to see mountain biking through fresh eyes once in a while. Hearing these riders' gratitude for the sport was contagious and was a reminder not to take any biking opportunities for granted.

I learned that many people started riding because their go-to sports became unfeasible, with gyms, climbing walls and skate parks shutting down. I learned that others started riding because they finally had the time. Some, like me, value mountain biking as a way to relieve stress and take perpetual satisfaction out of learning new skills. Many of the riders I talked to were surprised by the warmth of the riding community, and by how many ways there are to find connection with people in the bike world. What resonated most was the way these new riders' thoughts echoed my own feelings about the community, the rewards that come from trying and failing and trying again, and the difference a mountain bike can make during a tough year.






Drew had mountain biked in the past, but returned to the sport after being laid off last March.

Why did you decide to start mountain biking?


My husband has been an avid mountain biker for years. He rides most weekends and I usually stay at home with the kids. When all of the lockdowns started happening in the spring of 2020 my husband decided to buy our three older kids bikes so that they could still be outdoors and exercise, even though their organized sports were canceled. I have a major sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and asked my husband if he could get me a bike too! They know him at our local bike shop and laughed when he called them up asking for four Specialized Rockhoppers of varying sizes and colors.
- Elise, California, USA

I decided to get back into mountain biking because I got laid off from my job in March due to COVID. So naturally, living in Sedona I took advantage of my new found time and explored every single trail here on my old hardtail, and eventually upgrading to a full suspension in May. Then I created a YouTube channel to inform more people of our lesser known trails and have been getting a great response from riders looking for vacations in Sedona.
- Drew, Arizona, USA

A week before the first UK lockdown, I came home from university to visit for the weekend. At the time, I was very unhappy and really struggled with my mental and physical health due to having a disease called Fibromyalgia that causes wide-spread chronic pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, depression and anxiety. That weekend, I reluctantly let my friend convince me to go mountain biking with her and a few of her biking friends. I was terrified. I hadn’t been on a bike for years and avoided any activity that would increase my symptoms and the thought of others seeing me in pain frightened me. I am so thankful she convinced me to go that day. For those few hours, I forgot about the Fibro. I remembered how happy I felt being outside, away from the city and in the sun.
- Jodie, Fort William, Scotland

I started riding right when COVID hit because a nurse who works at the same hospital as me is an expert at mountain biking so she showed me the ropes and my boyfriend joined too! It just seemed like an outlet to get out of my head and finding a way not just to relax but to help my physical health.
- Kathryn, California, USA

When the pandemic started, we had a very severe shutdown, and I really wanted to be in the middle of nowhere in nature. Basically, it was impossible to get away from people because there were so many people everywhere. Within 5 miles of every trailhead, it was like Highway 101. I was like, 'If I get a mountain bike, I can get away from all these people.'
- Marina, California, USA

I've wanted to since I was a kid because it always looked so insanely fun to race around in the forest. But not being sports inclined, plus sized, and low income, I never had the opportunity and was scared to pursue it. It took me a lot of work to get myself confident enough to even try it. I also wanted a sport I could do on my own. I often end up quitting things due to severe social anxiety, so I wanted to find a sport that that wouldn't necessarily be a factor in.
- Cas, Alberta, Canada

What has the most rewarding part of mountain biking so far?


Christina took on the new challenge of mountain biking after skate parks closed last spring.
I'm a perfectionist, so being able to get good and constantly learn to be better for me is what I look for, from nailing a jump to running over a trail or a section until I get it right. A massive part has also been the change in mental health for me. Getting out in the fresh air and having fun has been huge.
- Mark, Edinburgh, Scotland

The most rewarding part of riding has definitely been the way it makes me feel. As an almost 40-year-old mom, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to feel like a badass, but on the trail, I really have my moments. I have also struggled with anxiety and ADHD, and riding has been unexpected treatment for both of those conditions. I really challenge my ability to focus while I’m riding, and I think I’ve definitely gotten stronger because of that. It’s been almost like exposure therapy for my anxiety - before every ride I worry about what will happen, but then I get out on the trail, and those things just melt away. I’ve learned that trails love to defy you - things I think will be a problem end up being fine, and I end up crashing in spots I never would have expected it. I have no choice but to just breathe and go, and the best solution is almost always to just ride it out.
- Gail, Vermont, USA

It’s just been a huge stress reliever kind of in the current climate to get out and about. In the beginning of the pandemic, lots of skate parks were closed but trails were still open, so it was a way to get outside, learn something new, challenge my body… it’s been a huge challenge for me. That’s been rewarding – learning something new, particularly being a little more mature – I’m 47 now – and finding the community… everyone’s super stoked and super supportive. It’s been great for me to go out and be more gregarious.
- Christina, Colorado, USA

The most rewarding part of mountain biking for me is the community. The riders I have met through the university’s adventure school in town are some of the kindest, most genuine and selfless people I have come across. They didn’t care that I had only been biking for a few months or that some days I was sore and slow, all they cared about was that I was out there on two wheels and happy. Meeting the people I have through biking has been so beneficial for my mental and physical health. I found myself being more open about having Fibromyalgia and less afraid of showing people when I was struggling and allowing them to help. The people I have met have become some of my closest friends and have been there for me through being diagnosed and the tough times that have come from the pandemic.
- Jodie, Fort William, Scotland

Being able to make so much progress in a year. If it hadn’t been for COVID, I would have had much less time to ride. With more time, I was able to work on foundational skills and get out riding pretty frequently. It has been fun going back to trails I struggled on early in the season to see how far I’ve come.
- Casey, Minnesota, USA

Hearing my brain tell me "you're going to fail at this" and proving it wrong. It's been the biggest tool to help me overcome my depression this past year. I've never had as much confidence as I've had this year, and that's mainly thanks to mountain biking. There were so many days this past season where I'd wake up and not want to get out of bed, but I made it a goal to ride the skills park once a day, five times a week. And having something I could rely on to kick my butt and change my mindset was a literal lifesaver. And eventually, it got easier. I started seeing the good in life because I could see the good in myself. I could see the progress I was making. I wasn't a failure like my depression told me. I'm now in the process of setting up my own business and going to school for a career I never anticipated, but that makes me insanely happy. I couldn't have done that when I was the depressed lump I was prior to getting into mountain biking. Mountain biking taught me discipline, perseverance, and getting back up when you fall. Having a life again has been the most rewarding thing to come from this.
- Cas, Alberta, Canada
Mountain biking helped Cas develop self-confidence and a happier, more capable mindset.

What bike do you ride?


My old bike is a 1998 Cannondale f400. That should explain why I wanted a new bike. My new bike is a Commencal Meta HT. I wanted new geometry and new tech like a dropper post, 1x gearing, hydraulic disc brakes, etc.
- Jonah, Arizona, USA

I’m currently riding a NS Snabb E2, LOVE IT! It was second hand to me and I have put a couple of my touches onto it now, but for the most part it’s stock.
- Mark, Edinburgh, Scotland

2019 Trek Roscoe 7 in teal. I got it from The Bike Shop South in Calgary. It's been wicked to ride on, and the dropper seat has saved my butt so many times.
- Cas, Alberta, Canada

Gail's new ride, which will help her accomplish her goal of learning to ride sendy trails.
I just bought a fatbike, actually. But my actual mountain bike is a 10-year-old Giant Trance 26er. It’s too small for me, so I’m working on getting another bike, but I’m just focusing on learning to ride because biking is expensive.
- Christina, Colorado, USA

I ride a Trek Roscoe 7 that I bought from Evans Cycles. It’s great but I wish I had something more rowdy sometimes.
- Ewan, Edinburgh, Scotland
One of the local students I knew worked in the bike shop. He helped me find the perfect bike and by May I owned my 2017 Production Privee OKA. I remember when I got it in the post, I put it together and nervously took it to the bike shop. I was so stoked that day I went straight over the bars from all the adrenaline. I still have the scars to this day!
- Jodie, Fort William, Scotland

What surprised you about the bike world?


The bike world has surprised me in just how open and inviting it is. I’ve met some truly awesome people, and the vast majority of people are just out there to get stoked and share that with others. There’s very little hostility. Maybe this is because I ride with women almost exclusively, or maybe it’s a Vermont thing.
- Gail, Vermont, USA

I think that the biggest thing that has surprised me is how technical and challenging trials can be, it’s so fun to try to challenge myself and try to clean different features and technical uphills as well as down.
- Kathryn, Florida, USA

I’ve been into bikes for a while, but I guess I was surprised about a few things switching to off-road. The scene seems a bit more chilled out, and I was surprised about how you can have an intense day out without ever feeling like you’re out “training.” Also - how many different mechanical standards there are compared to road bikes!
- Ewan, Edinburgh, Scotland

How inaccessible this sport is to plus sized people in terms of gear. I can't find a plus sized chamois that's well reviewed, durable, and not insanely expensive... And in stock! Honestly, this is a great sport for plus sized people to get into in my opinion, and the market and sport itself is missing out not encouraging more of us to get involved. Also, how welcoming the community can be. I've had my fair share of negative experiences, but a guy on Reddit actually gifted me my first 2 pairs of gloves and it was really touching. I can't wait to pay it forward in the future.
- Cas, Alberta, Canada

How much effort it takes to maintain a bike! I didn’t realize how often you need to wash off and clean up the bike!
- Casey, Minnesota, USA

What do you look forward to most with biking in the future?


Looking into the future and past COVID, I would love to combine my new love for bikes with my love for travelling and head further afield than Fort William and even Scotland. I really want to ride Coed y Brenin in Wales, Morzine in France and one day Rotorua in New Zealand. I would love to expand my knowledge of mechanics and properly wrap my head around how to fix my own bike. I am lucky enough to have made really good friends with a lovely bunch of mechanics who answer all my questions and pick up the pieces after my fixing fails but I would love to progress on that side of things as well as my actual riding. Riding natural trails is a big part of biking in the Highlands and something I would love to nail in the future.
- Jodie, Fort William, Scotland

I also can't wait to shred with my little niece and nephews. They're all around ten and hyped to come from Saskatchewan to ride trails with me.
- Cas, Alberta, Canada

In the future I’d love to get into more downhill stuff and get more comfortable in the air. I’d also love to coach kids mountain biking when my son gets old enough - I hope it’s a hobby I can share with him. I see myself going on mountain biking vacations, riding with my family, and I also have some plans to start an apparel brand based on women who mountain bike and other trail activities.
- Gail, Vermont, USA

Right now I have a broken clavicle, which really sucks, so I’m hoping to get back on a bike. I broke my clavicle riding a bike, and that was disappointing, and I’m under a lift restriction until March. So I’m looking forward to just riding again.
- Julie, Michigan, USA

What do you think the industry and communities can do to retain new riders?


I think the best thing to retain new riders is to continue to make trail systems really accessible and inclusive. Here in Vermont, we have amazing options and I’m so grateful for that.
- Gail, Vermont, USA

I think maybe running more group rides (when allowed) so people can meet other people that are into the sport. It can be quite a lonely place if you're the only one from your friendship group that’s into it. Just bringing new and experienced riders together, really.
- Mark, Edinburgh, Scotland

It’s a similar thought that I have about the skateboard industry. You get written off if you’re over 35. You should be married with four children. People have a tendency to put their lives into these little boxes – you know, at this age I should be doing this. It would be great if the industry would focus on people that were a bit more mature. Now, more than ever, people are getting outside later in life. We’re living longer, we’re fitter than ever, and it would be great some marketing campaign could be a bit more inclusive.
- Christina, Colorado, USA

I’m five feet tall and this [Transition Scout] fits me, so Transition is obviously female-friendly enough to make a badass trail bike that fits a five-foot-tall woman. It’s more on my radar that the industry is not very friendly to very small people, as a five-foot-tall woman, as opposed to new riders. I guess if I were to think about your question of how the industry can retain new riders, I guess the challenge would be with them getting involved with developing new riders. I know that mountain biking gets exponentially more fun as you get more skills, and the skills are learned. It seems like if [the industry] found a way to invest in more rider development, I imagine people would stick to it more. Same thing with participating in trail development, because obviously there’s an insane increase in riders. If I were to talk to the mountain biking industry, I would ask them to accommodate small people more and also I think it would be in their best interest to encourage rider development and trail development.
- Marina, California, USA
Christina shows off the results of her first OTB. She's still smiling.

Make plus sized gear accessible. Better variety, pricing, etc. I wish big brands like Fox and RaceFace carried women's sizes into 18-20+. Bike mechanic workshops. There's basically none offered in my city now (as far as I can tell). The Bike Shop used to offer them but stopped. I also wish there were more casual groups to ride with. Lots of intermediate groups, lots of beginner lessons. But not a lot of newbie groups out riding together.
-Cas, Alberta, Canada

One thing that was critical to me sticking around was a community with welcoming leaders, accessible rides, and a strong female presence. I remember one group ride where I was concerned about holding people up, and one of the leaders really emphasized that everyone is welcome, whatever their skill level, and that I should stop apologizing. We also have one female group leader who gave me some early pointers and checked in on me during the first few rides. That really helped me feel like I could do this sport.
- Casey, Minnesota, USA

I think developing more youth programs and spreading awareness about how easy it is to get out. I see a lot of kids roaming around car parks and streets in Edinburgh on full suspension bikes. Wouldn't it be great if someone pointed them in the direction of a trail, under the supervision of an experienced rider? Also - more signage and public transport capability for bikes. Scotrail and similar companies are not doing enough to promote younger folk who may not have cars getting out and amongst it.
- Ewan, Edinburgh, Scotland




218 Comments

  • 260 8
 Welcome to the party.....now remember our unspoken law.....never , ever , EVER tell your partner the real cost of your ride! I have nightmares each night that one day my wife may sell my bike for what I told her it cost
  • 106 1
 Some other general rules about mountain biking: If someone is filming you, the probability that you'll crash doubles. If an attractive member of the opposite sex is watching, the probability that you'll crash quadruples. If an attractive member of the opposite sex is filming you... that is a very dangerous situation! Any other unspoken laws?
  • 12 1
 @kcy4130: dang

That a big fact
  • 44 0
 @kcy4130: a new bike makes you ride 25% faster
  • 33 0
 @kcy4130: My top piece of advice to new riders: learn to look where you want to go, and resist the urge to look directly at the obstacles and sections that you want to avoid. Your bike will follow your eyes like clockwork.
  • 26 1
 @kcy4130: If you are the “new to mountain biking” significant other of an avid biker who is filming you then we whole heartedly appreciate your contribution to Friday Fails.
  • 10 0
 Stay off the jump lines until you know you can hit jumps comfortably. Other than that, happy shredding! Big Grin
  • 11 0
 @kcy4130: Respect the Trails is another good one
  • 7 1
 My wife figure skates. Trust me, bikes are not as expensive as you think...
  • 3 0
 @CycleKrieg: But they hardly wear any clothing.

I guess it's identical to mountain biking; pay more, get less.
  • 2 0
 @adamadey: and remember: if it's yellow, it'll add an other 40% of more speed. Man they're selling dangerous new yellow bikes to everyone: THAT is dangerous!
  • 10 0
 Pro Tip. I squirrel away cash( or ATM). When it's time to buy bike stuff I put half on the credit card and use the cash for the the other half. Then wifey doesn't think it's so expensive.
  • 3 0
 @adamadey: in some cases that is very true
  • 2 0
 Hey, Your the 12 days of Christmas rat!
  • 27 1
 If you haven't decided on what to major in college... Go with Dentistry.
  • 6 0
 @kcy4130: Quite the opposite of an unspoken law around here:

If you like that one instead of the other one, you're wrong. And an idiot.

And by 'that one' and 'the other one', i obviously mean absolutely any MTB product that you have a personal preference for. Choose wisely.
  • 20 0
 My wife and I have a nice rapport when it comes to me bringing any new parts, accessories, bikes etc home:
Wife: "How much did that cost? $20?"
Me: "Yep, guessed right again, baby"
Life is easier when everything is only $20. I think Confucius said that once...
  • 31 0
 @kcy4130: The ultimate law: never, EVER say "just one more run".
  • 1 0
 @secondtimeuser: What you are saying is gospel.
  • 8 0
 So true - my buddy rides a n $8,000 Spec - he told his wife it cost only $1,200. She 's never been to a bike shop.
  • 9 0
 And......change as many bikes, frames, gears, shoes..etc etc, as you’d like.....so long it’s black.....trust me, your significant other won’t notice......

As for the next unspoken law....black is the new black.
  • 2 0
 I work in the bike industry so there's no questions about spending on bikes.
  • 11 0
 One rule again, no dig no ride
  • 1 0
 @secondtimeuser: true that last August i said this and ended the day with 20 stitches in my elbow along with a chipped tooth and hamburger where my chin used to be
  • 6 0
 Tell her the more expensive it is the more safe it is...
  • 11 0
 Pro tip. Buy all black bikes or wheels. If you 'replace' the bike or wheels, the chance of your partner knowing you spent significant money on the upgrade goes down tremendously.
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: Kodak courage = Kodak carnage
  • 1 0
 @schrader44: you dog! (nice idea).
  • 7 0
 Never say "watch this".
  • 3 0
 THIS IS THE WAY
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: Speaking of places that will make you crash: The parking lot/car park, at the trailhead. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
  • 3 1
 I always wonder in this context where people get the money from to buy a bike when they've lost their jobs due COVID and and because of that have plenty of time to ride, like Drew from Arizona.
  • 1 0
 @schrader44: Tax fraud is another great way to afford new stuff
  • 4 0
 @DaFreerider44: hang on, that's legal???
  • 1 0
 Spit my coffee out laughing Smile
  • 4 0
 @NoMaDicMTBer: and don’t be afraid to raise your voice when you spree any trail users abusing them. Mostly walkers here that cut corners and destroy our sensitive grasslands. Drives me nuts. Why would you want to effectively shorten your hike? I call them walkers because real hikers don’t do this...
  • 1 0
 @secondtimeuser: so true. Same in skateboarding
  • 1 0
 @NoMaDicMTBer: I never said it was legal, just a great way to afford stuff
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: point taken. Very true nevertheless
  • 1 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: - i try and have that advice front and centre all the time
  • 5 0
 @MarcoM85BG: everyone knows that red is actually the fastest colour.
  • 1 1
 I came in the house on December 23rd with a used 2020 S-Works Enduro frame that I bought off a guy on the way home from work. Was totally unprepared for my wife asking how much _that_ cost. Brain hiccuped a second and then answered "ehhhh, about $2000" (actually paid around 3500) and kinda shrugged. Wife stars yelling, plates start smashing, kids start crying, neighbor's dogs start barking...
  • 4 0
 @secondtimeuser: Our house has a rule for skiing, boarding and biking: NEVER take the last run.
  • 10 0
 I’ve never got having to tell/explain/justify purchases to ones spouse.

My heart goes out to you guys that have to live in that world. Stay strong fellas.
  • 1 1
 @st-lupo: But isn't your last run , your last run?
  • 5 0
 Never "let the Ibis do the work" !
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: facts, hate it when the jumps get rolled over
  • 1 0
 @stovechunin: i might do that ngl its a good job, and you can live anywhere you want
  • 1 0
 Pick your gear preferences... and be dick about it, this is the way. Wheel size, suspension, brakes, tires, hubs, frame material, etc.
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: he said no it’s not new I’ve had it for a month. We watch him limping back from a run on the big jump line. Soon after we watch him fly like a bird without his bike. Lands flat at the bottom and heads to ER for a cast.
  • 1 0
 @schrader44: Well she certainly knows now , doesn't she .
  • 1 0
 @neimbc: It's amazing you guys are still married .
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: No, honestly - it's my buddy. Not me!
  • 1 0
 Rule 1 Mteal makes you faster \M/
  • 11 0
 Or just be with someone who is supportive, not controlling, and trusts you with your spending? My wife couldn't care less what I spend my money on as she trusts me and it goes both ways. She knows I wouldn't buy a new bike unless I've put money aside for it and take care of my financial priorities first. She was with my when I stopped by the commencal store to check out a $7300 supreme and she just said "cool bike you buying it today?"
  • 14 0
 @ThunderChunk: Took the words out of my mouth. If ya'll have to lie to your spouse, something ain't right. Can't imagine my most fundamental relationship being riddled with mistrust and dishonesty.

Does make for some funny wise cracks though.
  • 4 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: I always get a kick out of making fun of my buddies who are whipped lol. But ya being in a relationship where you have to lie or ask your partner for permission to spend money (or do anything really) is unhealthy. My wife just bought a new computer last month without telling me and I didn't even ask how much it cost. Shes an adult she can do whatever she wants.
  • 3 4
 @ThunderChunk: I agree it’s unhealthy, but my wife is on maternity leave and gets shitty at me if I spend larger amounts. We don’t have shared bank accounts. My opinion is that my savings is money I’ve worked for and saved, so I’m allowed to spend money I’ve managed to save.
Her perspective is that ‘we’ have other things to pay for. Meaning, while she’s got no income, I shouldn’t be spending MY money because it’s apparently OUR money.
  • 6 0
 @Waldon83: when your household is down to a single income because your wife HAS GROWN AN ENTIRE HUMAN BEINGINSIDE HER then yeah, sorry, breaking news but you don't get to be selfish and spend all the money exactly how you want. At the very minimum there's an extra mouth to feed and body to clothe, plus all the other expenditure that comes with having a tiny person around. Plus, you've got a whole lot less free time on your hands anyway so why bother spending it on big ticket bike items?
  • 5 0
 @Waldon83: For a long, rest of your lifetime happy marriage - When you marry - YOUR money is her money and vice versa. If you make 100 and she made a dollar - well, together you made a hundred and one dollars!
As THE WHO said - "In life, one and one don't make two - one and one make one." And you'll never have an argument about money.
  • 2 0
 @secondtimeuser: we’re a single income household with 4 kids. We’ve been married for 14 years and my wife trusts me to provide for the family because I have proven to do so. When I show up with a new bike, snowmobile, truck, etc she doesn’t say anything.

I’ve got buddies who literarily get a text on the way back to work asking when they spent $20 on lunch. Or have to ask I’d they can buy new race car tires then justify why they need them. It’s hard to envision living like that as an adult.
  • 4 0
 @meathooker: oh I get it. 10 years of marriage, 2 kids and only my income. When my wife left work it required a significant shift to start living within the confines of one income. We both still get to buy fun things but anything beyond a certain £ value at least has a heads-up conversation if only to make sure the other one wasn't planning on buying anything big in the same month.
  • 1 0
 @nojzilla: Desert rock for flow trails.
  • 1 0
 @mactrack: Stimulus check + money from hardtail sale = new Marin
  • 173 2
 I'm not going to lie, I got a little choked up reading some of these responses. Especially from Cas:

"Hearing my brain tell me "you're going to fail at this" and proving it wrong. It's been the biggest tool to help me overcome my depression this past year. I've never had as much confidence as I've had this year, and that's mainly thanks to mountain biking. There were so many days this past season where I'd wake up and not want to get out of bed, but I made it a goal to ride the skills park once a day, five times a week. And having something I could rely on to kick my butt and change my mindset was a literal lifesaver. And eventually, it got easier. I started seeing the good in life because I could see the good in myself. I could see the progress I was making. I wasn't a failure like my depression told me. I'm now in the process of setting up my own business and going to school for a career I never anticipated, but that makes me insanely happy. I couldn't have done that when I was the depressed lump I was prior to getting into mountain biking. Mountain biking taught me discipline, perseverance, and getting back up when you fall. Having a life again has been the most rewarding thing to come from this."


Wow.
  • 22 0
 Cas, try just using synthetic/merino undies. A lot of mtb'ers have been moving away from chamois lately, opting for synthetic undies instead. Just a thought that may help with the difficulty in finding properly-fitting riding gear (chamois specifically). You'll save money too.
  • 3 0
 @rickybobby18: Definitely a potential opportunity there to broaden the bike clothing market to more folks looking to adopt the sport
  • 5 0
 @rickybobby18: I stopped wearing a sham years ago. 100% agree.
  • 1 0
 @syeve: Same. If I'm going to do 30+ miles and be in the saddle for hours upon hours, I might wear a chamois. Otherwise, just synthetic undies.
  • 12 0
 Cas nailed it. It's why those of us in trail advocacy keep at it. I love it when people are stoked on new trails, but I'm even happier when our trails introduce new riders to the sport, especially ones like Cas who "get it" from the start. Come to VT for a tour sometime!
  • 3 2
 It makes me happy when someone else gets the pleasure I get from biking. One tip to Cas that has helped me when I want to give up on a hard climb or ride: “Pain is temporary, failure is forever.” While a great phrase, it was said by the now unpopular Lance Armstrong.
  • 2 0
 @Hogfly: I don't use a chamois even for all-day multi-day pedals (bikepacking etc.). You can end up with some chafing, but a little Glide can really help that. Honestly I get the same amount of chafing from pedaling for 25 hours over three days with chamois and cream as I get wearing synthetic undies. But...you never get saddle sores with synthetic undies, because you're not marinating in a thick wet pad all day. Just dry chafe sometimes.
  • 24 0
 I agree. That was one of the responses that resonated with me the most. I think a lot of us have anecdotal evidence about what mountain biking can do for mental health and life, and I really appreciated such a poignant and vulnerable description of that experience.
  • 24 0
 Definitely the first time I've almost been in tears from a PB article. Such an incredible story from Cas. GOOD FOR YOU CAS! YOU ARE AWESOME please don't stop showing the world that you can overcome! Also, thank you to Alicia for bringing us these stories! This is great.
  • 4 0
 It's easy to forget how much of a difference finding a sport like MTB can make in someone's life when you've been doing it for so long, so I found reading her statement really wonderful. I'm sure I would've had a far, far worse time during the pandemic if I was unable to ride.

Also, I agree - why the hell are chamois so expensive?!
  • 2 0
 Cas your story is so inspiring! I know there are some riding groups that go for XC rides around Bragg Creek. Maybe you can find some riding buddies that way? Take a look at Growth Mindset and you can use it when your fixed mindset is telling you you’re going to fail at something. When I’m coaching biking I always get my students to learn how to use a Growth Mindset. (e.g. when your mind says you can’t roll down something, you use your growth mindset to tell yourself to keep trying or try next time, etc.)
  • 69 7
 Kudos to Pinkbike and @alicialeggett for putting out this article. There's a much bigger movement afoot these days to promote greater inclusiveness in the outdoor industry, and the world of mountain biking has a LONG way to go. From BIPOC to small riders and plus sized riders to just beginners/kids, there is so much material (on PB/other MTB sites, let alone YouTube, Instagram, etc.) that is geared towards elite white "dudes" on 10K FS bikes. It's fun to see/watch/read, but there's so much that we can do to start expanding the horizons of this sport and make it even better. We all have a roll to play in that, but I would encourage PB to continue to pump out more articles along these lines in the months to come. Make that a key part of 2021 - grow your readership and the sport.
  • 6 1
 Can we at some point start including taller riders in this? Plus-sized stuff exists in some formats, and everyone is small at some point. But tall/long people really have no options. Not one bike brand makes tall options for jackets, and most companies make shorts at the same inseam length for every waist size which doesn't make any sense. Not to mention bike fit.
  • 2 0
 @alexsin: This.
Plus, they need to make XL-sized frames look as good as L! I often drool over the looks of new bikes, only to discover that the XL looks sh!t. Looks even worse with my 6.3'' on top of it.
  • 2 0
 @alexsin: Check out Aerotech Designs. They make lots of gear for tall riders. I'm 6'7" and buy a lot of my stuff from them, it wears like iron and fits really well.
  • 49 1
 This is really cool. I admit I've been annoyed at the increase of people on the trails, and have a temptation to be a bit of gatekeeper as if I'm special because I've been riding longer than them. It feels so much better to be open, excited, and welcoming.
  • 10 0
 Awesome.
  • 51 5
 Thank you for choosing to humanize a group of riders too often discussed as a marginal increase in quarterly revenues or as a trail nuisance by the entitled gatekeeper crowd
  • 4 6
 username checks out
  • 39 1
 As someone who should probably consider themselves a "pandemic rider" I really want to thank the community here for teaching me some important skills, mostly how to work on my bike. The last 6 months, especially after getting a competent bike, have been some of the best. I've made new friends and found something that I'll hopefully stay with for the rest of my life.
  • 7 0
 So good you're coming along with biking. Apparently music isn't your thing @Badbassist Wink
  • 31 1
 Interesting there are no negative comments (yet Razz ). Living in one of the most famous MTB towns in the world has and is challenging with the explosive growth we have seen this year. It's hard sometimes for me to have a positive perspective on it when some folks, that are obviously new to the sport, dont respect basic MTB etiquette. I'm sure that a good portion of this is lack of experience but it does get to me sometimes. An MTB beginner series covering etiquette might a good move for Pinkbike?
  • 9 0
 I have to agree. I think it is great that more people are getting outside, experiencing nature, exercising, finding something to be passionate about, etc. I can't imagine life without mountain biking and I hope more people get to experience everything it has to offer. However, it does bother me too when I come across people that are new to the sport and they have no respect for the trails or etiquette. My personal favorite is the group with no helmets, bombing down trails out of control (beyond their skill level), and just expect everyone (hikers and bikers) to clear the way. I am open to educating people if the opportunity presents itself, but that is easier said than done, and sometimes people aren't open to feedback. A basic video is a great idea, but the real challenge is getting the people who really need the information, to actually watch it.
  • 9 0
 I agree as well. I think it's important that every new biker realize that there is a vocal faction of hikers and equestrians who would prefer you not be there. If that group is organized and vocal, they may succeed. Being gracious and friendly goes a long way even if you're new on the etiquette.
  • 3 0
 Agree, so much people (also older riders) don't know anything about mtb etiquette or trail etiquette or don't seem give a f@@ about it . So a series about that would be positive for the growth of the sport in the right direction.
  • 1 0
 I agree! I also remember the days when we were the enemy. There has been 30 plus years of trail advocacy, and working with "the man" to build and establish trails that were originally "illegal". I run across a lot of new "covid" cyclists and e-cyclist that do not have the "trail etiquette" that may start to give us a bad name again. I do not fault the people that want to get out, but they also need to respect the other people on the trail so that we do not get ostracized again. I use a bell and try to talk to the other trail users to make them more comfortable. As a long time trail user, I feel that our trails are becoming more impacted and we need to respect others on the trail.
Can't wait to ride again with you buddy!
  • 3 0
 Maybe proper standardized signs with trail etiquette points could be good? Put them up clearly at entry points. Many surf spots have this which Im sure helps out a lot of newbies to understand. I only knew about trail etiquette from reading on pink bike.
  • 1 0
 So what do you say @brianpark? Pinkbike seems the top MTB publication/media property in North America (and beyond). I bet a creative and fun series could have a good size positive impact. Heck, I would love for each installment to be hosted by a high profile rider. If Yoann encouraged people to refrain from stopping/blocking the run in/out of features on the trail some folks might realize they have been bumming people out and change. Well, at least that is the positive side of my brain talking Smile
  • 2 0
 @mick06: our trails have signs like that. I'm not sure if new riders read them or not. I know there are some hikers who are waiting for their opportunity to aggressively educate.
  • 30 0
 Really nice to hear stories of new riders. I still remember the excitement and fear of the first ride, of trusting the bike on the trail. I couldn't wait to go again and I still can't wait, many years later.
  • 27 0
 It's good to see that more people are discovering that being outdoors is beneficial for their mental health! I really need the nature connection to stay happy in life.

Next up : How to still please experienced and long-time mountain bikers by not only making trails for beginners. Experienced riders are a big reason why this sport has developed into what it is today, and they still need to be considered in the grand scheme of things. It seems like everything we hear today is about getting more people in the sport and making it more accessible.

I'm all for bringing new people in the sport, but all this additional money coming in should also be spent to build new new trails for advanced riders too. Some places do it, but most don't around here and the more technical trails get used up and more crowded since there are not many.

Having being a paid and volunteer trailbuilder for a few seasons, it is striking how much beginner-friendly machine-built trails are made vs more natural/difficult trails. It depends of where people live I guess, but I understand how more experienced riders can find this situation frustrating. There is no crown land left here to build non-sanctionned trails and we don't have a word to say about new trails being built so it's all driven by the "new" crowd attraction movement.
  • 13 0
 Yeah, that puzzles me too. Putting in a flow trail costs big bucks and really changes the landscape; putting in a tech trail takes no money and minimal time, it keeps the forest largely unchanged, it needs minimal maintenance.... What's the downside?!
  • 13 0
 @ryetoast: @windowsill Excellent points. I'll add that most new riders progress beyond beginner trails after a year or so. While a very well designed and built flow trail can be fun for beginner to expert riders, most flow trails are not built this well and are boring for intermediate and advanced riders. My point is that beginner trails are needed to get people into the sport, intermediate and advanced trails are needed to keep people in the sport.
  • 9 0
 @ryetoast: I always see riding associations crying how natural trails are UnSusTaINaBlE.... but where I am, a natural trail will disappear in the grass in a couple years if unridden. These hard packed flow trails will last substantially longer and seem far more disruptive to me!
  • 4 0
 @j-t-g: I'm still riding trails that were basically raked in over 20 years ago. I guess it could be more problematic with certain soil types, but essentially I don't buy the "sustainable" argument. Sure, some erosion occurs and the trail evolves over time, but if a trail isn't used it disappears in less than a year where I live.
  • 1 0
 @ryetoast: Although- I would argue that some of the clever new trail designs I'm seeing incorporate multiple line/difficulty options into them. That said- yes- nothing beats a good single track tech trail. The good news is that the best ones of these are often hand built and we have hands! Though- I also get that trail building and land agreements look different everywhere.
  • 2 0
 Yup, here in the Lower Mainland (Woodlot, Burke, etc) there is an ongoing trend of "dumbing down" trails. This is particularly annoying when the features being replaced weren't even all that technical to begin with. Maybe the bike association that administers these trails could put signage up to indicate the skill level each trail requires, just like at the bike parks. I know, it's likely a funding issue. Hopefully all these new riders give back by becoming a member of their local biking advocacy group.
  • 4 0
 @j-t-g: Around here we have bad erosion issues so often natural trails soon become drainage creeks if not maintained. Many natural trails become maintenance nightmares trying to backfill and make water bars and cut offs that last and don't become unintended drops. So the flipside is you make a hardpack trail that doesn't require as much ongoing maintenance and doesn't turn into a trench - then people complain because it's been dumbed down. So by sustainable, I'm not sure they mean "won't disappear" but instead mean "won't turn into something different than intended- like a new creek"
  • 2 0
 @j-t-g: Same here, if people don't rake and ride the rake-and-ride trails, they get covered over with leaves and it's like they were never there after one season. If TONs of people ride them, and in bad weather, sure, they get rutted, rooty and nasty. But again, if we're talking about making expert trails, those won't be as high traffic and trailbuilders/clubs could route them through steeper, rockier areas that won't be as prone to erosion...

All that said, I learned to ride on rake-and-ride trails (like most people who have been riding for more than five years, probably) and I survived, as did the trails. I don't think machine-built trails with jumps, high berms and people going a million miles an hour are automatically the most welcoming, or the most fun, or the most instructive for newcomers.
  • 3 3
 A well build flow trail can be enjoyed by all levels. If you're not having fun you're not boosting the jumps high enough and hitting the berms hard enough.
  • 1 0
 @ryetoast: I appreciate what your saying, and I do enjoy natural trails, but the high erosion soils cover good portions of Eastern Washington and Oregon, Southern Idaho down through Nevada and Utah. Of course there are some better and some worse areas within that, but a trailbuilder may not just be able to employ some clever routing.

But to the article and trail building, I'm very lucky - I live within 25 minutes of an imba gold center and 2 hours of 2 more silver rated centers. Literally several hundred miles of trails within easy reach. But we also have 2 of the fastest growing cities in America and people are moving here because of all that open space.

The city and county are buying and leasing land, getting easements, etc as fast as they can afford it but you can't keep pace.

I dont think its a newbie thing, but instead a new attitude with the "spartan " race crowd that are out postholing the muddy trails so they erode even faster. When the trails dry up they turn hard so it will be like potholes.

So for me, I look forward to built trails because they handle all of this better.
  • 3 0
 @j-t-g: if everybody who is part of nemba can ride it its sustainable, if one person is intimidated, its unsustainable, bad for the environment, not properly drained, illigal and everyone who rides it is bad. lol
  • 25 0
 I started mountain biking this pandemic as well, and it has wholeheartedly been the best descion I’ve ever made. After dumping my summer job savings into a Kona hardtail mountain biking has really helped me gain that confidence to push myself to new limits and really taken me places I haven’t thought possible. We’re really so lucky to be able to ride bikes and for a moment pretend we’re kids again.
  • 20 1
 Great piece, Alicia! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work here on Pinkbike.
  • 5 0
 Right! Loving this content.
  • 3 0
 Agreed! Such a breath of fresh air.
  • 15 0
 I am the coach of a NICA team that grew from 9 riders last year to 30 this year. If you think the sudden growth of mtb is in any way a bad thing, get to know some of our new community members and find out how much happier cycling has made them!
  • 6 0
 I started riding through NICA. It was arguably the best decision of my life.
  • 3 0
 @alicialeggett: NICA is possibly the best the thing to happen to mountain biking in recent years..
  • 14 1
 My dad had fibromyalgia at 65 last year. He got into riding with me at SilverStar and SunPeaks and Big White and his body started to heal.even with wipeouts. Now he is getting into backcountry touring and all sorts of other things. I think people find that their bodies want to move and be used and fell better after being treated how they were designed to be treated.
  • 12 0
 It would be cool to read an update on these riders in 6 months, especially with the progression of the pandemic and the vaccine. This is excellent content and I hope to see more like this from time to time. Its immediately relatable, much more so than the ones about racing and micro advancements in bike technology.
  • 14 1
 I love that mountain biking is generally the opposite of surfing: NOT competing for scarce resources, and generally inviting and less judgmental. More people, more trails, more resources, more advocacy.
  • 4 21
flag Henary (Jan 15, 2021 at 10:37) (Below Threshold)
 Tell that to the people hiding secret trails.
  • 20 1
 @Henary: If you don't get invited to ride those secret trails, its because

1. You probably can't
2. You haven't proven yourself to the locals and builders that you wont destroy it or be an accessory in it getting destroyed.

Sorry.
  • 7 1
 @jdkellogg: sounds just like surfing....
  • 7 0
 @jdkellogg: I would disagree slightly...probably just with the language as I generally agree with the core points. I have kept trails private not because I think people need to prove anything to me but rather because sometimes land use agreements are tentative or the risk of liability to the land owner goes up with even small spikes in increased usership. My identity isn't fragile enough to need to be part of an exclusive in-group. Not saying you are but that idea is still pervasive in lots of "extreme" sports like surfing, skating, bmx etc. That said, it's not a "locals only" thing but if you find a trail that might be subject to this, don't go sharing it around or posting it publicly if you didn't build it and know the land use narrative of the trail. You could accidently wreck a good thing.
  • 2 0
 @teenwolf: Not really, in surfing there is conflict over finite resources that are general knowledge to everyone. I have rarely seen that aggressive locals only attitude in MTB. Keeping a trail secret isn't directly discouraging anyone from participating in the sport if there are plenty of other trails available for beginners to ride. Eventually you can probably get a chance to ride those trails if you put in the time and effort, but like @jdkellog is saying if everyone is cut loose on those trails there are probably going to be injuries from people getting in over there heads and various other incidents that could potentially get the trail shut down.
  • 3 3
 @jdkellogg: That's word for word what surfers say. But hey do you. It's no sweat off my back.
  • 4 0
 @teenwolf: Many secret trails exist to fill a need for more advanced trails that many/most land managers and even bike parks are unwilling to fulfill. The builders and riders of these trails are generally happy to show them to folks IF they seem cool and AND the trail is within their ability level. If the trail is not secret the chances of people getting injured are higher, this can lead to a trail being shut down. IME, riders that are ready to hit these trails will meet the right people to show them. Bike parks and races are good venues for meeting such folks. So, not at all like surfing, mtb trails actually benefit from a certain amount of traffic and many secret trails actually would benefit from having a bit more.
  • 3 0
 In my Hometown we (that is a Group of 7-10 Riders) have some secret Jumptrails which I sure as hell aint gonna share with everybody for 2 Reasons

1. You dig or you dont ride
2. More importat: the Landowner does not want that the Trails get known by the Public
  • 2 0
 @jdkellogg: it's not because we lack the skills to be invited on " secret trails" it's because we aren't arrogant enough .
  • 3 0
 @Sirios: Or because you didnt help to dig it ...
  • 2 0
 @Sirios: Or because you aren't humble enough. Those who have trails on private land had the humility to ask a landowner for permission and then to dig the trail themselves. Maybe you should ask yourself why you're too good to lower yourself to doing such things? Are you too good for manual labor or too important to talk to landowners? If not, why don't you have your own trails to ride (since it's that important to you)?
  • 1 0
 I was just about to mention that most outdoor sports are filled with welcoming people who are happy you're outside feeling the same joy you are.... Except surfing...
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: I couldn't be more confident that's not the case. The last thing trailbuilders who build sick trails want is arrogant riders on their trails.
  • 1 0
 @snl1200: You just said, exactly what I said, but with more words. How is that disagreeing?

"accessory in it getting destroyed"
  • 9 0
 Welcome to the party, please enjoy your stay and definitley do have fun! Great to see how happy this sport makes people and the positive influence it has on their lives.

But seriously though. While it's nice that the sport enjoys growing popularity and increasingly favourable public opinions, publications like Pinkbike should be reminding the newcomers of the fact, that there are rules. They exist for a reason and all riders regardless of their proficiency should always stick to trail code and outdoors etiquette. So mind the rules and be nice to each other.

On the topic of "inclusion" (, in the sense of how that term is used in this article anyways): No, not everything needs to be noob-friendly. It's very much ok that you have to work your way up to a certain skill level before riding certain places. People need to stop dumbing down trails just so that the newcomers have an easier time. Ratings exist for a reason and black diamonds definitley don't need to be accessible to everybody. Just git gud.
  • 8 0
 I love seeing new people entering the sport, and more importantly actually sticking with it! One of my fears of the "pandemic rider" phenomenon is that people rushed out, bought up tons of stuff, and then will be offloading it once we get back to normal. Hopefully this has some staying power!

As a rider in Seattle, I've been really disappointed to see that despite growth in ridership, growth in donations and membership with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (our amazing trail advocacy and trail building org) has not seen the same uptick. If you're a new rider, or even a longtime rider that wants to be a good steward of the sport and its growth, PLEASE donate and volunteer with your local trail orgs. They need it more than ever right now with how much use the trails are getting.
  • 9 0
 Absolutely agree but I think this takes time. Most people, especially new riders don’t know jack about trail construction, bike vs hiking vs equestrian trail standards, cost of construction or land ownership and working with state vs federal vs private land. It generally takes exposure to other bikers and those organizations to get that message across (trails cost thousands of dollars and hours of labor, they don’t appear out of thin air). 2020 was a terrible year for riders to socialize with each other and spread this message and for trail organizations like Evergreen to accomplish any outreach to those new riders. All those big volunteer events and chapter meetings are a huge visibility loss. Let’s all hope things can get normalized over the summer and Evergreen can capitalize on the larger user base.
  • 5 0
 @zhendo 100% yes. It needs to be emphasized to all riders - new and old - that if they didn't build or pay for the trail then someone else did. We're all taking advantage of amazing trails for free and putting the associated burden on very few. Evergreen and many trail organizations have been crushing it and it's the least we can do as patrons of their work to throw them a few bucks and a little bit of our time when we can.
  • 5 0
 @gafoto: Going to disagree with you on that one. While I agree that most people starting out don't know much about trail construction, there are visible signs about Evergreen, and when you google any trails around here Evergreen is the first site to pop up with info about them. Those things are likely true of a lot of other trail orgs around the country as well.

The big thing for me is, most people who are starting out didn't just watch a Redbull video and decide to buy a bike. They probably had friends into it already, or some sort of network pulled them in. Even if that's not the case, the amount of bullshitting and socializing in the parking lots is the same it has always been, just a little bit farther apart. It's on the rest of us who benefit from the trails to open our wallets when we can, and be vocal advocates of others doing the same.
  • 9 0
 What a beautiful piece. This is one of the best things I have ever read. I love that so many people with mental health issues have found therapeutic value in mountain biking. I can definitely relate!
  • 7 0
 Fantastic words Alicia! (it was also nice meeting you briefly in Sedona!) I love seeing the growth of mountain biking, you're helping peel away the intense dudes on intense bikes stereotype. Bikes should be about enabling ordinary folks to have an extraordinary time!
  • 19 12
 I sure I will get flamed for this.

I am happy when I see new riders on the trails, young, old, male, female, non-binary, black, white, purple with spots, faster than I will ever be, slower than I have ever been, old bike, new bike, cheap Walmart special, or a $10,000 Yeti.

I am saddened when I see an out of shape, perfectly healthy 30 something skidding down the trail on their ebike that is not legal where they are riding. Seriously, I have watched one ebike tow another up a fire road because the rider couldn't pedal hard enough for his own ebike to get him up without extra help (heard both motors humming).

I have no issue with those that need the extra help. I stopped and spoke with a 70 year old guy doing a loop with his dog. He said he just couldn't keep up with the dog anymore. I get that. Good for him for getting out and enjoying and being able to leverage the new technology to continue to enjoy his hobby. Likewise, I know a guy in his early 60s that rides with his same road group for years, they do 40-50 mile loops. One of them got Guillian-Barre about 3 years ago and just has been able to walk without assistance in the last year. An ebike lets him go on the group ride with his friends. To me a great tool for those that need it, but many just use them as an electric motorcycle.
  • 9 0
 I certainly understand where you are coming from and have experienced this too. I don't own an ebike, but can see the appeal, and can see myself getting one some day when they sort out some of the issues. Having an ebike allows you to side step some aspects of the learning process if you are new to the sport. I have been passed on a climb by an ebike only to pass them later when the trail became technical and they had no idea how to actual ride their bike. It allows people access to areas that, in the past, you would have needed to build up your fitness and skills to access. I'm not an ebike hater, I'm just not ready to convert, and hope the trail access issue can get sorted out.
  • 1 0
 Gimme back the 26 FSRs and MEH to the ebikers..
  • 12 0
 You go, Cas!
  • 13 6
 Golden rules,
-The rider climbing has the right of way, grinding up sucksss, I try to cheer them on, no ones thrown a water bottle at me...yet
-give way to other trail users, man we can sound like complete hooligans when we come flying up on people who are just out for a walk
-go volunteer at a trail day, you’ll meet some great people, and some real characters
-DONT take it too seriously, any of it, we are a bunch of grubbys out riding bicycles in the woods, like a bunch of 8 year olds!
-We all started somewhere, all of us, we all sucked, couldn’t clean a climb, have eaten $hit on the easiest line, all of us
-You have no idea what a 6 pack will do when you walk into your local bike shop, I’m not gonna say it gets you to the front of the queue, (but it gets you to the front of the queue)
-Don’t be a dick, refer to rule #2
-Feel free to mock those you see on Yeti’s, in fact, its the absolute law to make sure you stay ahead of them at all costs. Go your absolute hardest when you see them! They knew what they were in for when they bought that turquoise bike.

Welcome to the club, one of the only addictions more expensive, and worse for you, than cocaine!
  • 2 0
 Did a guy on a Yeti steal your girl or something?
  • 2 0
 You mostly had me until the Yeti part. Not all Yeti riders are pretentious pricks. I know because I’m one of them.
  • 5 1
 @extratalldirtrider: Hey guys, found the Yeti owners....

Just pulling yer leg, it’s all good bruh
  • 11 1
 Crap, we used to be an fringe sport, now we are mainstream, GASP!
  • 6 0
 Two of my childhood friends who live in SoCal (I live in NorCal) just bought mountain bikes. We used to ride all over Marin County as kids and we all just turned 40. They went on their first ride the other day and loved it! We're already planning trips this coming spring. Tahoe, Downieville, Sedona, they're in for it all. I'm so happy to reconnect and can't wait to ride with them!
  • 8 0
 Welcome to the sport, but always remember ..... the goal of Pinkbike is not to be featured on Friday Fails, but to come up with a clever comment!!
  • 13 4
 I LOL'ed at "I created a YouTube channel to inform more people of our lesser known trails..".
  • 7 1
 These are great stories, and it’s nice to see PB and the community spread the love by highlighting all these new riders. Thanks for sharing! I think everyone out there has a story about how they started or got back into etc and how mountain biking changed their life on some level. Part of my story and I think an important part is that getting up the hills is really bloody hard at first! And it doesn’t really get easier, just little by little you push your bike up less and pedal a little faster. Experiencing that progress is part of the beautiful, life altering experience. I’m sad that a lot of people who could have that are missing out on it bc they jump on to an ebike right out of the gate. The bike ‘power’ is in seeing yourself go from hacking up a lung every 500 yards to crushing that impossible climb for the first time!
  • 5 0
 Great story! Loved the tone. Where I am, recreation professionals and land managers at all levels have taken note of not just bikes, but all sorts of new (or returning) users on trails. The trails are taking a a bit of a beating, but it all helps make the case for trails as infrastructure worth investing in. Then there's the economic benefits...health outcomes...!
  • 7 0
 This article and the everyday rider's rigs that Christina Chapetta did are some of my favourites. It's nice to see the stoke.
  • 6 0
 Remember to be welcoming to new riders. This seems to be forgotten by some of the more experienced riders. We were all new at one point.
  • 7 0
 So good, I still get many of these feeling every day I ride. Thanks for the reminder PB, bikes are fun.
  • 5 1
 The biking industry had become a fashion industry going the way of the likes of downhill skiing, where that sport is accessible for the middle class and the rich. This pandemic has basically exacerbated the fashion of bikes for mountain biking where droves of people have bought expensive summer bikes and fat bikes for winter. It's a sad day when pandemic brings out the worst in people when you start to see fat bikers bitch about others riding less than 3.8" tires thinking that tires of lesser width will damage trails in the snow! Mountain biking is no more about riding trails or riding up a mountain - it's now more about how wide your tires are, how slack your frame is, and how many gears you can pack into the the rear cassette before new standard comes out. It's pretty much become an expensive fashion for the after work and weekend rides where you get bitchy people coming at you unyieldingly and they're coming out in droves! Kind of reminds me of the days of skiing except I don't have to pay extra for the expensive lift tickets.
  • 4 0
 Also my neighbour:

"biking was going really well and I bought all new stuff. Then I broke my neck soooooooo..."

Such a big year also for injuries. I applaud any and all new riders, and it's a great community, but please please please learn how to ride properly and safely. We count 5 friends now that have broken their neck or back riding, 3 of whom are now para or quadriplegic. 2 of those were very new riders.

It's getting harder and harder to go out and send it, given how dangerous the sport has proven to be.
  • 4 0
 The one brand new rider I took out this year OTB'd hard. 18 stitches on his cheek and forehead. Dizziness and memory loss for months. Nothing like a broken back, but still pretty miserable. It had not even occurred to me that a total novice would try and ride so much faster than his skill level like that guy did. We should all be careful taking anyone of little or unknown experience out. As more experienced riders, even if we aren't fast or aggressive, we rely on a lot of muscle memory and instinct to get down the trail safely. Thankfully most people have a stronger sense of self-preservation than that guy. But yeah it's a risky thing we do.
  • 4 0
 It's great to hear these very honest responses. In fact, I find it quite humbling. Very easy, in modern life, to forget about the excitement of finding mountain biking for the first time. So much to learn and experience. I hope each and every one of them continues cycling for as long as they're able. It'll always bring home the good memories and the smiles. To those based in Edinburgh, if you'd like someone to cycle with - obviously when we're able to - feel free to drop me a message. When I moved to the city, 7 years ago, I didn't have anyone to cycle with. So, I totally get Mark's point about it being lonely at times.
  • 4 0
 I too started riding because of the pandemic. After being furloughed in March I started riding my old hardtail that had been in storage gathering dust for most of the 5 years since I bought
it (due to meeting my wife, moving house, having children...). I'm new to the area where I live so started riding round the roads before finding that some local woods had a very basic XC loop. I loved it! I started going out every other day after the kids had gone to bed. Then I started travelling further a field in my car to see what else Shropshire had to offer. After returning to work I found my colleague had also discovered biking so started hitting Cannock Chase after work. I've since purchased a second hand full suspension frame and built my own bike from scratch. I've become absolutely obsessed with it. I've watched every PB video and listened to every podcast since discovering it, amongst others. I've also probably lost 2 stone and am the fittest I've been in my life! It's been such a positive thing for me and thin it's something I'll continue with so long as I can still get my leg over a bike. I'm just absolutely gutted I didn't start this year's ago!
  • 7 0
 This was a very heartwarming story.
  • 3 0
 While I do gripe about all the people clogging up “my trails” I think it’s ultimately good for the sport. More mainstream support can mean more trails. Folks who stick with it get better at riding and etiquette and those that don’t will find their way to a hobby that better fits their lifestyle. By 2022 you’ll hardly even remember there was a pandemic boom of bikers.
  • 3 0
 Welcome to the shredzone! It is pleasing to read and see how our sport and being active helps our fellow friends to overcome their inner obstacles, helps them to achieve never thought of goals and how it transforms a sad face into a grin from ear to ear. Kudos to all riders that bring new riders into our sport and kudos to pinkbike for a different kind of content this past year.
  • 3 0
 Cas check out the Baleaf options on amazon. Closer to actual sizing and size up to 3xl in men's and 2xl in women's. I didn't have too many options for myself as well, but these shorts have been a life saver at times for $30.
  • 3 0
 Yo Drew! If you are looking for anyone to ride with in Sedona. Feel free to shoot me a message! Always looking for more people to ride with! I think I saw you riding last weekend and I'll stop and say hi next time! Cheers!
  • 3 0
 Love new riders and even enjoy taking them out and showing them the ropes. What I get a kick out of is on uphills, especially technical uphills, when the new riders are pushing their bikes up they don't get out of the way of the experienced riders because they had absolutely NO BELIEF that the hill was ridable so getting out of the way never crossed their minds. The look in their eyes as you ride up their butts is hysterical.
  • 7 0
 I Love people !
  • 6 1
 Know your limits!! Its OK to go around somethings while you're building your skills.
  • 3 0
 “Everytime I start thinkin’ the world is all bad, then I start seeing some people out having a good time on motorcycles and it makes me take another look.”
—Steve McQueen from the Bruce Brown movie, On Any Sunday.
  • 5 3
 Welcome to mtb, it will change your life! One tip, the main thing I wish I did differently: Hire a coach! I thought a couple of my friends could coach me and it's not till later that I realize they suck at coaching and cost me a lot of frustration and injury, and massively impeded my progression. A few tips on body position and basic technique can make a night and day difference in your experience on the bike. This sport is not necessarily intuitive in many different ways, you can't learn from people by just watching them and you can't really apply what they are doing to your own riding directly in most cases. Just watch a few Friday Fails vids here on PB to get the point... new riders often have no comprehension of either proper technique or their own limits, and as the videos show, this can result in major injury, trauma and frustration. IMO, a coach is a far better investment than any gear upgrade, and will make for a much more enjoyable and safer experience as a mt biker.
  • 2 0
 Geez. Hard to believe anyone would downvote this. It’s solid advice. It’s actually the first thing I thought when I saw Christine above with her black and blue jaw. It’s obviously not full proof (stuff happens), but some lessons/coaching can help you avoid things like this. I guess not everyone can have access to a coach, either due to location or cost, but if you can do it, it would make your experience as a beginner infinitely better.
  • 1 2
 completely disagree. Your assuming that one WANTS to learn how to jump and ride Kamakazi downhills etc.
Forget hiring a coach initially . the best way to gain confidence is to ride your bike on relatively flat and or easy terrain and become familiar with the mechanics of the bike ie; gears, brakes , steering and improving balance . once those things become second nature , one can consider hiring a coach if you want to do aerial acrobatics .
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: You're a perfect example of a rider who likely needs a coach the most. A vast majority of riders don't use proper body position or cornering technique, so coaching is valuable for people who just want to ride their bike properly and safely as beginners anywhere. Your assumptions are typical of those who are completely clueless beginners.
  • 3 0
 Great piece! Really nice to hear about the significant positive impact this has had in some people’s lives. As someone who has been in this sport for over 30 years, great to see it through fresh eyes. Thank you.
  • 2 0
 I love hearing about new riders getting into the sport. That will only help us continue to develop and preserve tracts of land for outdoor recreation, and promote a healthier, more active lifestyle for a less than healthy population.
  • 3 0
 Awesome article! There is a million reason to love riding bikes...the mountain bike community is unquestionably one of the most important. Mountain bikers are good souls and that is all!
  • 6 0
 *everyone liked that*
  • 1 0
 Yeah, that. +1 upvote my good sir.
  • 4 0
 Anyone know Drew’s YouTube channel address? I couldn’t find it with a quick google search
  • 6 0
 Here ya go. I'm adding a link to the article now. www.youtube.com/channel/UC0fU9Ar8ZvRvngPIF7VgHug
  • 3 0
 @alicialeggett: Well done,
This was a good read, truly appreciate it
  • 5 0
 @alicialeggett: What a nice way to welcome these riders to the sport. This is such a great article. Cas epitomizes the mountain bike ethos. Not all heroes wear capes!
  • 5 4
 Couldn't help but notice that most of the people in the article (and rookies I've met) are not on modern trail bikes. It's probably safe to assume that is related to the cost of entry into the sport. Hardtails are fine for beginners to a point, but limit progression to more challenging terrain for many people. 23 year old bikes are probably just unsafe. Perhaps a good way to pull more people into the sport and retain them is a bike lease program. Rather than $3k to $10k for the purchase of a modern bike, lease a modern trail bike for a season or a different one every month for the first year or two until you've decided that you want to commit to the sport and know what type of riding you want to do. Rentals are good for short term, but are rare outside bike parks and require constantly going to the bike shop for pickup and return.
  • 5 2
 23 year old bikes are probably just unsafe? OK privileged person who has not been riding for very long.

Actually you can have a really great time and ride 90% of all trails quite happily on a well maintained older hardtail bike. Full suspension bikes do make lots of stuff easier but a large majority of mountain bikers spend most of their time riding stuff that doesn't involve huge air and bike parks.
You are probably right that its a good idea to rent something suitable to figure out if you like riding in bike parks, but people who are not buying new full suspension bikes because they can't afford them are also not likely to be bike park regulars as it is pretty expensive.
That said Mt Washington on the island had family Friday evenings that were very accessible (cheaper than a movie) and I saw lots of families on a wide variety of bikes.
  • 2 0
 There is nothing a hardtail limits, except speed and comfort. A well maintained 20 year old bike is perfectly safe. Does it have the latest geometry, best fork, wide rims, tires, and a dropper? No. Is it safe and fun to ride, absolutely.

I used to help coach our junior high mountain bike club. I would ride my 2003 Titus Riddler hardtail with 1x9, no dropper and a 2006 fox fork. I did this to show the kids it wasn’t about the bike, but the rider and wanting to ride.
  • 1 0
 You lost me at "lease program".
  • 3 0
 Welcome to this awesome sport of ours. Just remember the golden rules,
Have fun, respect the trails, respect other trail users and don’t be a dick.
  • 1 0
 I whole heartily agree with the barriers to entry sentiment. My town was given the green light to build trails last year. We have significantly more hikers then bikers. They always say it looks fun, and I always ask if they haven’t thought of trying it. I often get a remark that the trails are too scary. I wish people would think about this when they build trails.
  • 1 0
 This is a great segment! I too am a “pandemic rider” after years of my brother in law asking me to join his riding group I finally caved in and bought a GT Full suspension XC style bike for $500 in about 5 months of riding consistently and becoming obsessed with all things MTB I sold my first bike and upgraded to a YT Capra Enduro which was newly 6 times what I paid for my first bike! Now approaching 10 months of riding and I have been riding at least once a week since March I can honestly say mtb has changed my life! Now planning trips out of state to go riding!
  • 3 0
 Very inspiring to read. All I can say is welcome and hope you will continue to enjoy our beautiful sport!
  • 4 0
 Excellent reporting! Ride bikes. Have fun.
  • 1 0
 I’m pumped for the new trail networks and trail growth that has happened already and will continue to happen with the number of new participants in the world of MTB this year.
  • 1 0
 Dear new pandemic riders - You don't need a $6,000 Enduro bro machine to ride your local beginner flow trails. A hardtail will be 100x better and allow you to work on your skills.
  • 2 0
 "I’ve learned that trails love to defy you - things I think will be a problem end up being fine, and I end up crashing in spots I never would have expected it." - So true!
  • 1 0
 i recommend starting with freestyle or racing bmx then transitioning to mtb, you learn the skills faster, spend less money and are able to learn jumping at a skatepark, which is a hell of a lot easier.
  • 1 1
 Hey , don't forget it's not necessary to ride single track to enjoy mt. biking . There are lots of riders like myself that ride on logging roads and bike trails through the forest . I say this to the people that dont want to start riding because it looks too difficult and expensive . Ride a hard tail and just forego the high speed downhill stuff and you will still have plenty of fun and get a lot of exercise . Don't worry about being knowing how to do jumps and stuff, just ENJOY.
  • 1 0
 "I think the best thing to retain new riders is to continue to make trail systems really accessible and inclusive. "

Agreed.
I think there should be a nice set of shovel and rakes sold with every bike
  • 4 0
 Welcome one and all.
  • 3 1
 While this is truly inspiring it should be sent to bike manufacturers to supply bikes for people who wanna ride!
  • 1 0
 Ab-so-lutely. We live in a great age for the sport and have access to incredible equipment. Brands that keep pushing the limits of performance and making the sport even more affordable and approachable need support and kudos for their efforts.
  • 2 0
 If you’re a brand or product category manger you had better be reading this.
  • 1 0
 1000%
  • 1 0
 We sat drinking beer last week and discussed the average cost of riding kit....from Helmet to Shoes. Average cost heading north of GBP 800...yowch!
  • 1 0
 Nice article. My default reaction to more people on the trial is not a high five, but now barring hipster overalls, and motors it just might be.
  • 1 0
 In the last 20 years, I have never biked less than I did since lockdown.
What is wrong?
  • 2 0
 Sorry, bro, that is a major bummer. Restrictions pretty tight where you are?
  • 1 0
 Sure but you still rode. This article is about people looking to get outside to explore new activities because they realized their life at the bars watching sports on weekends was terminated.
  • 1 0
 Love this article! So glad to hear these stories about others enjoying our sport.
  • 1 2
 To all the people the have found bikes during this COVID mess, welcome to the party!

To all the long timers.. Don't f@ck this up..
  • 1 0
 i really just started in 20 mostly cuz i needed something to do,spend time w brother etc, but the reason i'm shopping to upgrade in the used buy sell PinkBike and keep at it is #1 the MTB community -in all the days on trails riding in Squamish/NS i had such great experiences/advice/help w young kids who totally fly,kids,old timers just everybody
Truly just one D Bag -everybody and i mean everybody that we would run into out there was 'have a good one"
  • 2 1
 But how many stick around after they hit the deck?
  • 2 0
 We all "hit the deck" at some point.

The community around an individual can inspire and support them to get back in the saddle or minimize and criticize their talents and experience.

We were all beginners once, very few of us are professional riders, and the best of us keep pushing the boundaries, falling, and then pushing again.
  • 1 1
 Get involved, what's the worse that could happen?
  • 1 0
 Love this!
  • 2 2
 Unspoken rule number 69: don't swallow
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