Life In The Loops - Being A Bum

Feb 27, 2014
by Dylan Sherrard  
 
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This past winter I spent some time pretending to be an adult and quickly discovered that it really wasn’t for me. I’d first set up camp in the frosted back woods of Alberta where I’d found a new job with a pipeline company. The job wasn’t entirely terrible - I wasn’t expected to work all that hard, we spent the majority of our days outdoors, and a generous amount of free coffee was at my disposal each day. But soon after realizing that my coworkers didn’t enjoy smiling or talking about bicycles, the dollar-bills no longer seemed to be a fair trade for my frozen toes.

So I retreated home to Kamloops and found an alternative winter job at a plywood plant. The work was remarkably repetitive and dreadfully boring, but my coworkers were all very nice individuals and the schedule was fantastic. However; there was no coffee available, no music playing, and still nobody enjoyed talking about bicycles. My interest began dwindling rather quickly. I started to feel down on myself. Like I was incapable and couldn’t function in a grown up workplace. The positions I had applied myself to were only meant to be short term projects for saving extra money over the winter, but that was beside my worries. My typical routine of daily shredding and bicycle sales is considerably more hectic, so why couldn’t I find any flow with these temporary positions?

...

I was troubled about it until late one night when reality suddenly dawned on me. I’m a bike bum. You would think I’d have sorted that out for myself quite some time ago, but it never occurred to me until the end of a string of night shifts spent battling caffeine withdrawals and humming my own sleep deprived songs. I’m a bike bum and I’m digging the way it rolls off my tongue. Often people enjoy using the term “bum” in a derogatory sense, and I have never been a fan of labeling things, but I’m certain this is an appropriate label for me. In a number of different ways, being a bike bum has allowed me a really rad life up to this point. So I am going to keep rolling with it, and I don’t see why that needs to change anytime too soon.

...

Because of bicycle bummin’ I’ve learned to live quite healthily. I get more fit and flexible as time goes on, and I’m continually learning new ways to eat healthier and find more energy. If not for my commitment to being a bike bum, I’d never have fallen in love with yoga or discovered a sense of self preservation. I’d be a real mess of a human if I’d never gotten so deep into this mountain biking thing.

360 Drop

Being so deep into my career as a bum has provided me with a lot of invaluable experiences. One time I was invited to camp on the side of a mountain in the early stages of winter and ride my bicycle down the scariest slopes I’d ever seen. On another occasion I visited an event in France where people gathered from around the world to celebrate shredding on big travel bicycles in the nasty Portes du Soleil mountains. On a regular basis, I have the chance to spend valuable time with the most creative people on the planet - who I am also honored to call my friends - and perform in front of their picture taking and video making machines. And in addition to these highlights, simple day to day riding around home is often more enchanting than my wildest daydreams.

Heli bike in Bralorne BC for Kona bikes. Photo Blake Jorgenson

Over all these years of bummin’ around with my bicycle I’ve crossed paths with some truly remarkable individuals. Some reside nearby and I consider them great friends, while others find shelter in far away worlds and are merely acquaintances. But bicycles create quick connections and build strong bonds that abolish the barriers between different people. Sometimes it can be as simple as sharing a single lap, just a few turns on a trail, and I’ll discover a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

And finally, perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of my life as a bike bum is that I’ve discovered the ability to share all of these aforementioned positives with people all around me. Through story telling, coaching camps, physically placing people on bicycles at work, and simply just living this way, I have the chance to make people smile and possibly inject a new excitement into their lives. That feels like a special task and one that I could never aspire to without being such a bum.

5 days of fog good times

Now after a vision quest of a winter, I feel more motivated than ever to maintain my bum status. Although there is little in the way of a guaranteed future, I'm too damn inspired everyday to stop trying. Riding a bicycle makes me happy, standing around in the cold and stacking sheets of plywood do not. If I can go to work drinking coffee and listening to music, talking about bicycles and smiling, and being around people who enjoy the same...

I think I’ll be bummin’ around for a long, long time.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Banner image courtesy of Riff Stills
Keep up with Dylan between issues of Life In The Loops on The Kona Cog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram.

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110 Comments

  • + 69
 the values placed by "normal society" (i.e the controlling media) upon everyone in it is designed to manipulate us all to feel that not having expensive stuff and a stable, highly paid job is to be desired, and that if you do not have a full time job that you are to be ridiculed by the mainstream; that is what powers the economy- we all get brainwashed into thinking we need to earn more so we can spend more. its nice to see evidence that some people decline that as complete shite, and what actually matters is our own happiness, even without expressing it as such.
  • + 29
 Try telling that to a person who also enjoys other hobbies. Sure society and the media conditions most of us to believe in a picture perfect lifestyle. However, don't tell me that money and much of it is a bad thing. People who enjoy MTB also have to deal with medical insurance costs when we injure ourselves, we also have to deal with providing food, shelter, and education for our kids, we have to pay for enjoying bike parks and fixing our bikes. Not to mention this hobby or lifestyle of ours isn't cheap. Sure you can get cheap parts and a cheap bike but most of us here would die to get a nice fully loaded bike. Unless you have connections up the wazoo, getting a good high paying job is beneficial and we all are NOT brainwashed because we choose to work full time and earn enough to sustain OUR personal style of life.
  • - 10
flag maxlombardy (Feb 27, 2014 at 6:20) (Below Threshold)
 Quote: "we also have to deal with providing food, shelter, and education for our kids"
***Easy - just don't have any.
Man if I could just bum and work in a shop, wrenching and helping people find the ride they wanted that would be the SHIT! Sure, it's feasible, maybe I'll do it someday. Even better would be to learn how to tig weld and go work for a company like Moots or something.
  • + 10
 I am torn and agree with both arguments. I still say get study hard and get as much education as you can so you can get a good paying job that you like even love. That's worked for me. I enjoy spending way too much money on bikes and traveling all over to ride them. What depresses me is making good money but still not being able to afford to live in the area I grew up in.
  • + 19
 If you see your kids as a burden to your lifestyle don't have any. My kids are the biggest blessing I've ever had and I enjoy teaching them how to ride. As I grow older I enjoy having a steady job that won't make me rich, but allows me the time to spend with my kids, and on my bikes.. yes, plural.
  • + 16
 Having spent nearly 10 years (from about 15 until 25) wrenching on and selling bikes in shops (and loving it at the time), and now having moved on to a MUCH MUCH higher paying health-care job only 5 years later (I now make almost 3-4 times as much as I did when i worked in shops), from my point of view, this "shop" lifestyle is significantly over-rated. Granted, I actually love my current job and all it affords me (which is more than can be said for a lot of people), and I love it a hell of a lot more than dealing with some of the retards that would come into shops.

Industry deals are only worth so much, and with my work schedule, I am still able to ride 4-6 times per week (for more than 3 hours each time if I choose), and I still have a kid, still spend time with my wife, still own mid- to top of the line bikes (and so does my wife), still have a pass for the local bike park, and still get to hang out with riding buddies. Not only that, I do all my own work on my bikes, and that I DO have working in shops to thank for.
  • + 10
 In fact, I ride more now, than I EVER did working in a shop. I still have lots of buddies who work in shops, and they all struggle pay-check to pay-check every month, struggle (financially) to put together a decent bike each season, hate there job, and get annoyed with how often us health-care people ride and they don't. The only money in the bike industry is through shop owning (and even then, it's a struggle for many) or repping. Unless you got the braun AND brains to do either of those, don't waste your time trying, you'll burn more bridges than you can afford.

If you enjoy retail, low wages, and riding some of the time, then sure, stay working in a shop/retail (although MacDonalds will give you better pay, benefits, and more time off to ride...). But, going back to school, getting an applicable (key word) diploma/degree, and stabilizing yourself financially opens a hell of a lot more doors, and then people also won't talk to you condescendingly every time they come into a shop.
  • + 1
 It might not be as big a deal in Canada but benefits like health insurance is a must have here in the states. 401k and even better, a pension means a whole lot if you don't want to work until you are 80.
  • + 4
 Anytime a person starts a comment by referring to the "controlling media" I get instantly wary. I think most have said it already, but the thing with biking is that it's hugely expensive for the average person. In fact it's probably one of the most expensive hobbies that I see, next to ATV'ing and snowmobiling. The simple fact is that most people wouldn't be able to afford the tools we use as bikers without finding a decent job within, what madm3chanic calls, "normal society".

I commend Mr. Shredhard on his ability to live the lifestyle on a limited budget, and within the constraints that he puts upon himself - I wish I could do the same, but alas, I'm far too much of a mediocre rider to get free bikes, components, etc...
  • - 7
flag LiquidSpin (Feb 27, 2014 at 9:35) (Below Threshold)
 maxlombardy: You're out of touch with reality to think that it's an easy choice to make. Not everyone see's life the way you do. Most of us do want to have kids, if they don't already. They DO want to travel and enjoy other things in life.

You're one of the most close-minded ones on pinkbike man.

Go make $9 and hour and travel all over the world to the best places to ride while taking care of your rent and taxes all the while being single and lonely. Smile
  • + 10
 First if all, you shouldn't assume that I'm single and lonely based on my comment. I'm married and quite happy, I just realize that in order to live the lifestyle I like I can't have kids, and I'm quite satisfied with that decision. I'm simply pointing out that the decision to have kids carries consequences and people that do choose that shouldn't bitch about it. Likewise there are consequences for those who don't have kids (like there may be no one to take care of you later in life) and I accept that and take it in stride
  • + 9
 Also, come on man - do you really know me well enough to say that in one of the most closed minded PB members?
  • + 2
 @robito: Sorry, but you're wrong on this one. I have not had health insurance for seven years. I'm way healthier than most people who have health insurance. Instead of paying high premiums, I buy high-quality food, ride often and enjoy my family and friends to keep me healthy. We've been conditioned to believe we need health insurance, but when you're sick a doctor is going to give you toxic drugs 9 out of 10 times that won't cure you. Also, 87% of health care spending is in the last 10 years of life!!

This article is about quality of life. He has found it riding his bike which surrounds him with positive people and has even made him a healthier person by eating right, doing yoga and smiling a lot! Of course having money is great, but if chasing the $$ gives you a terrible quality of life, then it's not worth it. Everyone needs to find what works for them.
  • + 6
 I respectfully think you are out of your mind throttle. Spend 2 nights in a hospital and you'd have to declare bankruptcy. Most people who declare bankruptcy in this country are because of medical bills.
  • + 4
 @Throttlemire, just wait until you have an insanely nasty crash and destroy half your ribcage en shatter part of your Sternum. I did, and I can tell you, you really loooooove your health insurance when that happens! It has nothing to do with living healthy. There's so much things that can happen that you owe it to yourself to make sure you get the best possible healthcare. I must admit that in my country the health system is pretty great, but even if it wasn't... spending a little money can save you a lot. It has nothing to do with brain washing and swallowing all kinds of pills. Itás just there in case something goes really wrong, which it will. (if not, push harder!)
  • + 1
 You have to have money and time to bike. When you have a job and money you get no time off. When you have the time, there's usually no job and money has to be rationed. I wish some wise man would tell us what is more rewarding for life. Is wasting the physical prime of your life by making more money and building a solid foundation for a family worth it? We only get one shot at life.
  • + 0
 The thing about 'Bike Bums', especially in north america, is that they all have very wealthy parents who allowed them to practice and compete at a young age, can afford international travel and regularly replace expensive sports equipment without having to work. Sorry for killing your dream, kids, but what is at work here is cold hard cash, not talent or luck or hard work.
  • + 7
 LOL maxlombardy I'm with you 100% there man. The f*cking grief I get from some shit heads just because I don't want kids is the only bad thing about it. I have to say that "there may be no one to take care of you later in life" is a f*cky statement because that could just as easily be true if you do have kids.

Anyone that thinks their kids have any responsibility to look after them is a f*cking a*shole. Even worse are the douche buckets that have kids just for those reasons. Live a healthy lifestyle & the chances that you'll need any assistance are greatly reduced. In countries where children aren't so often born in a disadvantaged state, the country is most likely one that looks after its people. If it isn't, then it is one awful shit hole to be creating more life in (sorry, you live in one of those) & in such cases, those kids will have enough trouble looking after themselves. It is foolish & selfish for a parent to expect anything from their kids.

I don't give a flying f*ck how anyone lives their life as long as they mind their own business & don't cause any problems for anyone else.

DarrenDouche, I think you have "bike bum" confused with "pro". They're not the same thing.
  • + 1
 @maxlombardy: Your comment about the choice of having a family or living life on the bike being "easy" is completely out of touch. Many people out there want both and when they hit the crossroads in life to make a decision to get married and settle down isn't something most people will give up for the bike, as much as they love it.

Also, who says you can't have both?? Do you think most of the people who ride are all single without kids? It's called managing your time wisely. Most people sit in front of the TV playing games or watching TV....others will get their asses on the bike. To each their own.

Even though I'm of the minority here I still stand behind what I said earlier. It's not an easy choice for all. If it is then do it, Seriously, it's your life to get married or not, to ride or not, to have kids or not. Who gives a flying f*ck what you do with your life as long as it's your choice but don't sit here and tell me it's an easy choice.

I'll work hard, make a good honest living have a family and teach my kids how to ride and all the while I'll be f*cking riding till the day I can't.
  • + 4
 Evidently, my simple comment has struck a chord with you, stirred something in the darkest depths of your soul. Listen. All I'm saying is that if you make the decision to bring more people into this world, you better damn well be prepared to deal with the consequences, and that means doing things you don't want to do sometimes. Sure, everyone says "raising children is the greatest thing I've ever done!" Congratulations. You just did the same thing that hundreds of millions of people have done over the course of humanity. If it's so great, then stop bitching when you can't go riding, fishing, leave the country on a whim or whatever. I prefer to keep my ability to do so, and I'm not ready to deal with kids. Nobody will ever hear me bitch about how much I wish things were different.
  • + 3
 Haha, @maxlombardy The way it seems is like. Once you have kids you have to say there the best things ever to justify yourself for deciding to be last place in life (after wife and kids). But I've got some very successful friends (family and career wise) who say kids suck, their boring and take away from time in their lives. Of course you gotta love your kids but these people are not stupid, they know what they are sacrificing. I really respect their honesty, and this kinda statement usually comes from the most successful (career and family wise) of them all. Haha.
  • - 2
 SithBike... spoken true like someone who was never able to find someone willing to have their kids. That's not your fault, I know lots of people who are in that situation, and they are 'loving' life. Getting drunk every weekend, a little over weight, and never first to the top of a climb, but oh man, can they 'shred' the downhill (yeah right).

It's about priorities. For some people, the priority is work (even if it's a $13/hr retail job), riding (or another sport that they'll never achieve anything higher than amateur in), and no responsibility (a maxxed out credit card, or a shitty, barely running vehicle, is not 'responsibility'). For some, it's about doing something meaningful in life (because lets be honest, being a 'bike bum', spending your days working in a shop, getting drunk on weekends (or weeknights) and riding in between is not 'meaningful'), and bringing a kid into a financially secure and loving world.

If you don't want that, then that's fine, it's your choice, but don't claim you've (the general you, not you specifically) amounted to something in life because bike companies give you free parts, you ride sometimes, get drunk most of the time, live pay-check to pay-check (despite spending $250 a week on alcohol) and can't even afford health benefits (nor can the shop that you work for)...
  • + 3
 You make many assumptions Bigmike9699. Just because someone says they don't want kids, then they must be
A. Unable to meet someone special
B. Alcoholic
C. Overweight
D. Have an overinflated idea of their descending prowess
E. Work in low wage retail
F. In debt (maxed out credit)
G. Have a shitty car
H. Only ride sometimes despite wanting to ride more
I. Uninsured.

Yeah seems logical
  • + 3
 It just boils down to what people find meaning in. I believe the point of life is to be happy, and there are many roads to that end. For me, it doesn't involve having kids. I am married, own my house and one rental property, have a job I love and get paid pretty well for it (healthcare), my car runs, I'm insured, I have tons of time to ride and wrench, live debt free, and I'm at my ideal BMI. I also have an extensive postsecondary education. I am happy, and I worked hard to get to where I am. So go play with your kids, and if you can ever peel yourself away for an afternoon, I'll go ride with you and we'll just have to see who's first to the top of the hill and who's last down.
  • + 1
 "To amount to anything in life you have to have as many offspring as possible." Says the animal kingdom, the Discovery channel and my parents.
  • + 2
 Could all three of those be wrong?
  • + 1
 Max, I totally agree with you that it's what people find meaning in. And no, I wasn't saying that just because of A, B must be true, not at all. I have many friends who choose not to have children in favour of their careers, and that works for them, and that's totally fine. Some parts of society put this expectation that you MUST have kids, while other parts of society imply that kids hold you back from career development and progression, both points of view I think are very sad.

What I was getting at was that while some people make a living in the bike industry, working the retail/shop side of it, most do that work so that they can "bike bum" around for the better part of their youth. Having worked in the industry for a long time prior to (and during the process of) changing gears in my life, and living a life where a vast majority of my friends are people who have (or continue to) worked in the industry, I've seen many of them inevitably reach a point in their lives where they long for something more, kids, financial stability, etc. (while granted, some are content with the more simple lifestyle of not having any of that, and that's fine too). I just hate being accosted, and sometimes ostracised/excluded when I choose not to get drunk, and then get questioned by those same people about why I don't wait for them on rides or why I am not out of breath on this mediocre climb. I guess over-time, I've lost a bit of faith in humanity...

I don't think less of people for choosing not to have kids in favour of career, not at all, just don't look down on me or exclude me from group gatherings with mutual friends because I choose to contribute to society in a different way...
  • + 1
 You live in Kelowna @bigmike9699. You could ride some of the gnarliest trails in the world on your lunch break and tuck your kids in for the evening. Unless you really wanted to go travelling/biking in exotic far off places I'd say you have it pretty good. I have to book vacation and drive out to around where you live just to ride my bike. I would look more favorably towards kids if I lived where you do.
  • + 40
 ah the youth of today. so innocent, so naive.

you think you can break the system by dropping out. instead of succeeding, playing the system and winning

a good job/career and MTB are not mutually exclusive. word of advice to the yoots; look at the long term, study, apply yourself, dedicate yourself. mid term sacrifice will endure and you will be able to mix work and leisure time, travel, satisfaction, security, opportunity

being a "bum" is not cool or glamorous. you have not won, or broken the system. you did not pass go or collect $200. you just hid out in delusion in your parents basement living off Cheetos. meanwhile, the adults amongst us got ahead, worked hard, AND had fun. hate the system, understand the system, play the system, win. there is a lot more to life than MTB (and anything similar) and anyone who tries to sell you this snake oil is frankly, an idiot

life is short; do not sell yourself short with this dreamy myth that dropping out will somehow fix your own shortcomings

if I keep reading endless whines about the price of bikes and parts I think I will strain myself badly or scoop my eyes out with a rusty spoon

far too much whine, "poor me", and fail

2c

there is no charge for this free career advice
but there is no guarantee or warranty and YMMV

flame on and neg prop me like you are gaming at 2.00AM
  • + 6
 He on to something. With an awesome job there is a life work balance that has the income to support trips and overpriced bike parts. Otherwise you will end up stacking plywood in the cold when bumming isn't working anymore.
  • + 10
 In the states we've got big problem with corporate servitude. Very few of even the best employers offer more than two weeks of vacation to new employees. I make a good salary and enjoy my job, but I won't get 3 weeks of vacation until I've been here 5 years. That's too long to wait to enjoy my life while I'm young enough to do so.

Here's the catch:

There are only so many good jobs. It's the truth of supply and demand. Not everyone can work for Google, or Rocky Mountain, or that bike shop down the street that pays awesome wages.

I think the better alternative to both giving up your professional career and giving up your personal fulfillment is moving someplace where when you get out of work you can be on the trail within minutes. Pressure government for more parks, more trails, better designed communities with more open space and greenways. Pressure employers to allow more remote-workplaces and 4-10 schedules. There is nothing wrong with being a bum in paradise, just make sure you've got a long-term plan to get a job and stay there.
  • + 7
 Agreed, Im tired of bike bum articles that postulate the only way to truly enjoy mtb is as a bum. Pinkbike should send its younger audience a better message. Many mtb enthusiasts can successfully balance their passion with a rewarding career, just find or create a setting with a favorable schedule for riding. The future will not get any easier and shying away from the economic expectations of the world will only bite you in the long haul.
  • + 1
 Life is short....yes More to life than MTBing........no
  • + 5
 ^ there's lots more in life than MTB

a well rounded life is far better than an obsession with any one thing

the MTB industry loves you - you drank the cycling KoolAid
  • + 8
 kind of funny too @gnarbar, most of us with good jobs end up spending our hard earned money at bike shops. There is alot more to life, like travelling, family, etc, etc. you only get one shot though. do what you want. I think thats the point of this article really. Realizing who you are and what you want to do with your life. important stuff.
  • + 9
 If you think you can't "look at the long term, study, apply yourself, dedicate yourself" within the bicycle industry to give yourself a great career you're crazy! It might not be the stereo typical life, but it's a very fun and rewarding one. If you work hard at any job, especially one you thoroughly enjoy, you can create an amazing career. Obviously there are people who work in bike shops for a few years and don't make anything of it, but there are also a lot of people who make a life of it, and it's a damn good life if you do it correctly.

Dylan and I work together and we enjoy work everyday. It's never "oh shit I have to work tomorrow". We make good money to support the lifestyle we have and although I don't have a fancy big truck and a huge house, I can afford everything that I want in my life. I don't want those materialistic things.

And you should also consider that the bike bums of the world are the people that really help the infrastructure of mountain biking. Who do you think puts on kids camps? Spends hours organising local races? Helps with trail approval and maintenance and keeps the local riding scene alive.

Biking would be dead without Bike Bums!
  • + 3
 While I don't disagree with you, gnarbar, I think Dylan's point in the article is that he has experimented with working what many would call "normal, adult jobs", and found that they don't work for him. I didn't get the impression anywhere that he was suggesting that it would work for everyone. What I took away from it was that one should appreciate the environment they submit themselves to, and people they surround themselves with, whether it be at work or elsewhere.
  • + 3
 I think the big thing is vacation. My job is fun, important (I keep gas from blowing up your house), and pays well. I don't mind sitting in a cubicle as long as I'm challenging myself and producing valuable work. I just wish, as I think many of my generation (25-40) that I could trade $5,000 in salary for an extra 2-3 weeks vacation. I want the stability of income, but I don't need to make millions.
  • + 6
 I think a big thing is entitlement. I don't mind that people choose a certain lifestyle. If you want to be a ski, bike, whatever bum go ahead and knock yourself out, sounds super fun to me. If you want to work and make money, more power to you, I can't blame someone for wanting to be financially stable. The entitlement problem is when anyone of any group tries to tell you what you're doing is wrong or stupid. Just because they think that's how life works, then everyone else has to believe this as well. Working stiffs like me try to tell bike bums that they're naive and wasting their life, whilst bike bums try to tell 9to5ers that they're victims of the system and brainwashed. Do what you want, just don't tell the guy next to you he's doing it all wrong and here's a list of reasons why, especially when you have no perspective. And to top it all off, WE AREN'T THEM, so what the f*ck do we know? Articles like this reek of "I'm way cool because I don't have to do x y and z and I get to ride expensive bikes as seen in the pics, so this is what you should do."
  • + 1
 cuban, spot on.
  • + 0
 Biking is everything. Who cares about careers and big dollars if you can't find the vacation time to go out and ride the exotic places. Your wasting your life and physical prime. I guess the solution is to have a great career and move to a place with lots of mountains where you can at least go for short biking trips regularly. Because of the economy/family and friend ties, this is easier said than done.
  • + 3
 Everything is easier said than done. But you can have your cake and eat it too. Make it happen. Live near mountains and travel alot whilst earning a good income on a good schedule that is conducive to your lifestyle. Cant find the opportunity, then create one. I do appreciate bike bum trail work.
  • + 2
 Nshore3, I'm working on that. Just a few more years of experience in the wintery mid-Atlantic then its on to warmer, dryer pastures.
  • + 1
 Good! Keep at it!
  • + 24
 I feel like it's sort of funny seeing people's divided stance on things. It seems that most people are pretty aggressive about their opinions and really try to push their own way of thinking on others, as if the path they have found for themselves is the only road worth following. I would never say that having a professional career and a high paying job are bad things. I realize that the world is a very expensive place and even day to day life is quite costly, and I would love to enjoy the comforts and securities of being in that kind of position. But unfortunately, those comforts don't feel so comforting to me, and after a lot of years of thinking really hard about it... maybe they aren't necessities for everybody? If I don't plan on purchasing a big house, don't want to have kids or drive a shiny new Dodge Ram, and act carefully with the money that I earn... then it seems I can get by on a whole lot less than what people generally perceive as"needed."
I am also completely understanding of the fact that any way of thinking could blow up in ones face at any moment, so I make choices and sacrifices to avoid that scenario as best as possible.
I guess the bottom line for anyone is, if you find yourself with a really happy lifestyle that you enjoy and with a tangible plan to maintain that, is it any more wrong to pursue that lifestyle than something more mainstream?
  • + 3
 It's about freedom of choice. some people choose to have a family, and go to school, whatever. the important thing is to do what you want in life! make the most of what you have. just do what you want. screw what other people think. I have a good paying job, and that stuff, but when I die, it wont matter.
  • + 3
 It's funny how tastes and desires change as you age. Bike bummin it out when I was young sounded amazing. When I was in my teens and 20s I never thought I would want to settle down and have a family. I just wanted to hang out with buddies and travel, stay single and childless.

Now that I have a wonderful wife, amazing son, great job, and over all happy life I couldn't imagine it any other way. Sometimes I feel sad for my friends that don't have kids. In my opinion it's the best ish ever and its important to continue my legacy, family name and genes. Can all this I value now still be had being a "bike bum", I hope so.

Let's get a follow up article on Dylan in 10 years. I'd be interested to see how it plays out for him.
  • + 1
 I posted this reply directly above yours but i think it's relevant to your post as well lol:

I think a big thing is entitlement. I don't mind that people choose a certain lifestyle. If you want to be a ski, bike, whatever bum go ahead and knock yourself out, sounds super fun to me. If you want to work and make money, more power to you, I can't blame someone for wanting to be financially stable. The entitlement problem is when anyone of any group tries to tell you what you're doing is wrong or stupid. Just because they think that's how life works, then everyone else has to believe this as well. Working stiffs like me try to tell bike bums that they're naive and wasting their life, whilst bike bums try to tell 9to5ers that they're victims of the system and brainwashed. Do what you want, just don't tell the guy next to you he's doing it all wrong and here's a list of reasons why, especially when you have no perspective. And to top it all off, WE AREN'T THEM, so what the f*ck do we know? Articles like this reek of "I'm way cool because I don't have to do x y and z and I get to ride expensive bikes as seen in the pics, so this is what you should do."
  • + 10
 This article was pretty much exactly what I needed. It feels like I'm in a constant struggle to make it through my adult responsibilities so I can enjoy doing the things I've loved since I was a kid. To all the people who make a living doing something they love, never take it for granted and hopefully I will join you soon.
  • + 13
 'Living a short life doing what you love isn't a tragedy, living a long life not doing what you love is' Someone
  • + 11
 Hard life, but someone's got to do it right? Awesome write-up as always Dylan, I really look forward to seeing these.
  • + 6
 I wouldn't ever go back and do things different my years of ski and bike bumming were the best of my life. I'm lucky now and get to be a stay at home dad but with and work for myself a few hours a day. I get to bike or ski or bike about three days a week. If I really cared about having all kinds of shiny nice new things and traveling the world I guess I could spend more time making money then enjoying my life in my own back yard. Not saying that isn't fun but when I can ski or bike 120 days combined a year that adds up to a lot more fun then going somewhere different or awesome across the globe. So keep working your day jobs every day well I enjoy mine with my kid and on my bike or skis living a more realistic life than people that think they need to be super consumers . You never hear anyone in there old days wishing that they had only worked a bit more and had more things.
  • - 3
 Aren't you lucky to have a sugar momma?
  • + 4
 Not a sugar momma a partner I also work for myself and have remodeled our house and get to raise our awesome daughter. I stay busy all the time
  • - 2
 Are you advocating that every man allow his wife to work while he does cool stuff like remodel the home, ride bike, hang with the kids? I don't think you are. You're saying you're lucky, and I'd agree, but not everyone cans or wants to do that.
  • + 3
 You're assuming that his partner is a she..
  • - 2
 It doesn't matter what his partner is, it's unfair to judge the rest of us "working folk" as doing something wrong, or consumerist scum because we work a day job and NEED an income in order to pay debts, save for retirement, afford cycling, while going on adventures with your kids, epic rides, skiing everyday, while someone else pays the bills.
  • + 3
 Just like everybody dosnt want to work a job based only on pay. Money can't buy you happiness.
  • + 2
 I ski our bike three days a week on average we just live within our means and momma goes skiing and biking 1 or 2 days a week. You act like remodeling is fun come do some for free for me. And remember that I have increased the value of our house about 60 to 80 g's plus I work from home as well not just sitting back and doing nothing. And watching a kid counts for nothing either in your book I guess you make no sense dude. Skiing everyday was when I was younger getting 120 days on skis a year.
  • - 1
 jibber, I think you're trying to tell us that (or me) that being a stay-at-home dad is a "job". I'm not saying its easy, but it isn't a job. It's a crucial function of domestic life that allows you to spend time with yours kids while minimizing childcare costs, but its not a job. Like I said, you seem to look down on those who work for a living as if we're all unhappy. I'm not unhappy, I'm trying to position myself for a better life. By getting with someone who can your bills and enjoys their job, you've positioned yourself for the good life. Why can't the rest of us do the same by different means?
  • + 2
 My job is what I do 8 hours a week or so the other 40 is watching my daughter make your own choice and quit worring about mine you sound unhappy and it dot seem you grasp the point of enjoying life good luck with that
  • + 2
 I guess I well go get a job working at a day care then you well be happy and I can claim to have a job. Or you could look at the more important aspect of making sure your putting a quality person into the world. I don't know why your so worried about how our family functions and what the defenition of what a job is but it works fine for our family. I guess remodeling a house isn't a job either. Do you just want me to be unhappy like you in your 9 to 5 job or what? If all you want is to be a good little consumer your well on your way. Keep worring about your future and forget about your present.
  • + 2
 staying home and raising a kid is the hardest job on earth, thats why women do it, they have a better work ethic.. cheers to the dads who do it as well! (yup, I have done it)
  • + 9
 Find a job you love and you never "work" a day in your life.
  • - 6
flag PHeller (Feb 27, 2014 at 6:28) (Below Threshold)
 Doesn't mean the job you love pays worth a damn.
  • + 3
 So what if it doesn't pay loads? why would you get a high paid job you hated to be able to afford to continue living the life you are and doing the job you hate? That's ridiculous. Yeah i'm only young and i'm not pretending to be old and wise but personally I think the most important thing in life is to enjoy it.
  • + 5
 If you only care about the pay your missing the point
  • - 5
flag PHeller (Feb 27, 2014 at 9:02) (Below Threshold)
 Jibber420, will you work for free for me? I've got house cleaning that needs done.

Didn't think so. Wages matter whether its doing what you love or not.
  • + 1
 if he loved house cleaning maybe, but i doubt that.
  • + 3
 I make money and so does my wife you need money but it sounds like you care about that more than other things. Have fun with that hope you enjoy
  • - 1
 What are you talking about? All I said was "sometimes your dream job doesn't pay", and it's the the truth if your dream job is worthless?
  • + 1
 Wages matter yes, but you should not decide on a career because of how it pays regardless of whether you will enjoy it or not
  • + 2
 Wouldn't be as worthless as working for you for free
  • + 2
 If it doesn't pay, than it's not a "job" or a "career." It's a hobby or something else. But that's beside my point anyway. Point is, if you feel like you're "at work" and you hate it, chances are there's something out there you can enjoy AND get paid to do it.
  • - 2
 scaliwag, while I would agree with you, the problem is that we can't spend our entire lives bouncing between jobs hoping we find something that fits us perfectly. I did that for the better part of a decade. Between 18 and 28 I had a different job on average twice a year. The best job? Working a outdoor summer camp? The worst paying job? Working an outdoor summer camp. I'm a pretty idealistic fellow, and even I eventually realize that the grass is green enough (job wise) and I'd rather live someplace awesome than try to find perfection in an imperfect town/city/state/region.
  • + 2
 Your comments make little to no sense
  • + 1
 Looks like the bike you ride probably sucks the fun out of riding to. Just like everything you do in life you sound like a lame dude stuck in penseltuckey.
  • + 4
 Great writing and props for have the self consciousness to know what makes you happy. Reading this I was nodding my head in agreement about how much healthier mountain biking has made me as far as fitness, diet, and reduced alcohol drinking- basically increased my happiness and satisfaction with life. My only feedback is make sure you have HEALTH INSURANCE- not to be messed around with, and you are young enough you can be a bum right now so by all means. When you turn 30 unfortunately it dawns on you that you do need to make money so you can retire at some point, you'll probably find a great career by following your passion. Happy trails Dylan
  • + 3
 Do what you love dylan! People say they get tired of these "bum" articles and that they should learn how to work the "system"... I say create your own damn system!! I spent some time up north this winter and I know that's not for me either. If working out in the cold for the money works for people, good for them. If people can work in the bike industry and they find fulfillment in life with that, good for them too.... I don't understand why arguements against careers in the bike industry always come down to lack of money. I think it's pretty clear that people who are fulfilled with those jobs clearly don't care about money as much as the people who hate on them do. If people who worked in the industry are unhappy, they usually figure out something else to do....
  • + 4
 i could read these great Dylan Sherrard Write ups all day ! just unbelievable how he can express the things that many of us are thinking about so often.
  • + 3
 Confirmation bias, check it out before you slag on a person who made different choices than you. Both of you might "ride bikes" but to assume that activity has the same meaning for both of you is quite naive.
  • + 2
 Why all the fuss? I've met a few people who live the "bike-bum" lifestyle and they were nice people with no desire to criticize anyone who's different. If one's primary passion in life is bikes why not live this lifestyle. It ain't for anybody and it certainly ain't for me but each to his own. I do what I love, they do what they love, we sometimes ride together and I get smoked on the climbs cause I'm fat. That's life I guess.
  • + 2
 My local bike mechanic knows so much, literally the sizes of everything, he's intelligent, manages the workshop and far from a bum, he services the hub gears on my commuter, the shock and forks on my enduro, and the DI2 on my road bike, yet his salary only allows him to rent a room in a shared house, forget owning a house & car, supporting your wife & raising a child. Why are mechanics seen to be so worthless, they are the backbone of any bike shop.
  • + 2
 'Few two cents...

-Being a bike bum/ski bum does NOT mean you are selfish and are doing nothing for society. Some people are selfish about it yes, however most of us are the people who keep this whole bike and ski world glued together. Whether it be selling bikes, running chairlifts, teaching camps, whatever. I teach skiing because I love it so much to the point that I want other people to fall in love with it just as I did.

-Just because you get married and have kids does not mean you have to live lavishly all of a sudden. I personally know a couple who live an extremely simplistic life in a mini home, have no mortgage, have only what they need, work unique jobs, and still raise a kids and send them to school. They still get to climb, bike, and ski a whole lot. They're the happiest family ever and they're actually saving good coin for what the future may hold in store for them. All they did was remove all the excess north american crap out of their lives like say TV so they could have that extra cash and time go towards something they are actually passionate about.

-How your life will play out all depends on how much you can put away all the parts of life that society tells us are social norms and should be found in all of our lives. You don't have to have a huge house to raise children, you don't need to go out and spend 100$ on a date night, you don't need this years car model, you don't need that cute sweater, etc... If being active and outside is important, then it should be easy as a family to make changes (perhaps large ones) in order to be active, outside, and truly happy.
  • + 1
 For what it's worth, I've (sort of) been on both sides of the "bum/career" debate. In my teens and early 20's, I couldn't seem to find a job that I fit in to. I decided that the reason for this was because I refused to give in to the aforementioned brainwashing of society. Obviously someone or something was conspiring against me, preventing me from living my life as I wished, or forcing me to work jobs I didn't like. What I did like, was to spend as much time on snow as possible. Clearly this meant that I was destined to spend my life scraping by as a ski-bum, since someone else was to blame for my inability to find stability.

With that said, I'm now five years into a career that affords me the time AND the resources to truly follow that dream. It is because of this career that I am able to finally afford the gear I want, and visit the destinations I always wanted...and all without having to sleep in my car. If it was not for this career, I would not have been able to rediscover my love for biking, lost many years ago. I am beyond thankful that after exhaustive searching and determination, I have found a job that I enjoy. A job that challenges me, entertains me, and allows me the ability to follow the hobbies I love while exploring new ones.
How did I arrive at this equilibrium of work and play, you might be asking? I changed my mind. I got tired of scraping pennies together to eke out a meager existence, for the sake of my pride or imagined integrity. I decided that instead of being a proud victim of "the system", I was going to take advantage of it. And in doing so, discovered that there are no real restrictions or limitations of sorts, beyond the ones we place on ourselves.

There is no grand secret to be shared here, or a moral to this story; only lessons learned through time. Your own perception of any situation is what determines the outcome....now go out and grab life by the balls!
  • + 1
 I understand your life style choice Dylan. That's what great about this country .Freedom of choice. To choose your own path. Your own identity.
People ask me: What do you do for a living? I answer : Ride my bike. I always get a perplexed look. As if my job defines me. That's sad.
  • + 1
 Balance, you need balance to ride a bike ... you need balance to ride through life. If you are riding all the time, your scale is tipped to one side, if you are working all the time your scale is tipped to the other side. No side is wrong or right, but the middle seems to be ideal. I can think of very few scenarios that represent the ideal balance. Therein is everyone's challenge: to which side would I rather have the scale tip. it seems like everybody chooses a side and strives to get to perfect balance. Make some decent cash and ride a good amount. If you got the time you want the money and if you got the money you want the time.
  • + 1
 Dylan -- Thanks for the refreshing perspective from a guy who truly seems to have thought through his situation, and come out in favor of 'bumming.' Of course, your perspective is part of a soulful lineage of writers encouraging self-reliance and the benefits of private happiness (and of chillin'): the Bhavagad Gita, Nietzsche, Thomas Carlyle, the good ol yankee transcendendalism of Emerson, Henry Miller... etc. Some good company there. I count myself in it as well. Let me send some constructive criticism your way... It seems to me that your thinking is more subtle than your writing, as is often the case with writers just beginning to figure it out; one way to deal with this is to stay away from superlatives, such as those in the passage below. For instance, are these folks really the "most creative people on the planet," and is your daily riding better than your "wildest daydreams"? Either you severely discount the creativity of truly world-changing folks in art and technology, or you have a ridiculous opinion of these friends. And I bet your daydreams are actually much wilder in magnitude. I think you get what I'm saying... Which is that if you keep these things within their proper scale and scope, it allows you to make your point that much more exact. Also, when you really do want to say something extreme, you can boost your language and it will stand out. Again, I enjoyed the article -- keep it coming. Also, check out The Idler for smart, rowdy writing on takin' it easy. idler.co.uk/magazine

"On a regular basis, I have the chance to spend valuable time with the most creative people on the planet - who I am also honored to call my friends - and perform in front of their picture taking and video making machines. And in addition to these highlights, simple day to day riding around home is often more enchanting than my wildest daydreams."
  • + 1
 I admire people that can "do" this life. I suppose I envy it to some extent. I guess if I really wanted it, I'd have it.

The thing I really think is worth mentioning is that standing around in the cold manufacturing/piling plywood might suck ass, but if no one did it, none of us would be able to build ramps. We wouldn't have all the things we take for granted if some people didn't just suck it up & jump into the shit. We can't all be famous, we can't all be paid to do what we love to do & we wouldn't have shit if everyone was a bike bum or a pro athlete or an entertainer of some sort.

I've worked in a bike shop & it was work. It was tedious, boring & no one is makin' much money workin' in one of those. A discount on parts means shit if I make next to nothing to begin with. Fixing & flipping houses works great for me, but most people couldn't fathom it. To each his own.
  • + 1
 Just be a teacher.. teach at a cool school that maybe would appreciate a mtn bike program.. have 16 weeks off per year.. Thats the american dream, sure you won't get rich, but you can afford bikes, a family if you choose, a house, beer and have a decent retirement.. You end up being off at the best time of year...
  • + 1
 DS, very impressed with how you ride and how you've been able to make this lifestyle work for you. It's not for everyone, especially me, but full respect for finding the balance in getting the most from what you want. Although I will never match the volume nor the quality of the rides that you have done, I am neither envious nor critical of how you live your life - just cool with it. Happy trails!
  • + 1
 In this internet age, you can strive to pick employment that allows you to work from any location at any time. Remote in from home, from the beach, from the hotel, from the wireless at the indoor bike park. Not all jobs are instantly comfortable but build trust and they will let you work at the times that work for you. Ride in the morning, put in a few hours, take a afternoon ride, finish your work after dinner.
  • + 1
 Dylan, Thanks!..always love reading your articles..your observations, perceptions about riding, life, self reflection etc. are always entertaining and interesting- Keep em coming kid! It's too bad some people misread this as a rigid stance on lifestyle instead of an individual revelation..anyway, Thanks again!!!
  • + 2
 whatever your bliss is and makes you happy, thats the right life for you. Doesnt matter ever what anyone else says or thinks. period.
  • + 2
 Very inspirational words Mr. Sherrard, truly a pleasure to read before heading off to teach a group of bewildered first year university students. Keep the words coming!
  • + 0
 I lived that life for a few years and found that working in a bike shop met my goals of bikes bikes bikes all the time. But it didn't pay enough that I could afford my dreams in other areas (world travel, buying a home, a reliable vehicle, etc). Also, working in the bike industry exposed me to some of the worst things in bikes: triaging bikes in Whistler lest I be the one who 'ruined someone's vacation to the WBP'. This killed my passion for riding.

Went back to school and now I have an intellectually satisfying job that I enjoy which pays well enough that I'm sitting in a pad that I own overlooking the three North Shore Mountains writing this and planning a round-the-world trip. Oh and two high end bikes in the front hallway. My job doesn't allow me quite enough flexibility to ride as much as I would like but it's pretty damn close. I doubt I could have got this far if I'd stayed a bum. But if my life's desires had never gone beyond riding bikes then yeah. Because that job in Whistler was the best job I ever had and in many respects those were the happiest simplest times of my life. Maybe you can go back?
  • + 3
 One of our favourite riders and writers!
  • + 1
 Always do your best to avoid the cliches of life, do the exact opposite of what the herd is doing. Society is nothing to be copied or held in high regards.
  • + 1
 For a second there I thought he was falling out of the chairlift on photo #2
  • + 1
 Pinkbike should be embarrassed at how much they don't acknowledge their own privilege.
  • + 3
 Welcome to Jackson Hole
  • + 2
 Mountain biking saves lives!!!!
  • + 2
 Great article!!! Enjoyed it thanks Dylan
  • + 2
 Still, Canada has what nowhere else has.. except for Norway
  • + 1
 whats that then?
  • + 2
 your all crazy
  • + 2
 wow, great writing!
  • + 1
 SHow me, what is "normal" and I'll show you a miracle....
  • + 1
 amen hermano!!!
  • - 2
 "I know you don't smoke weed, I know this; but I'm gonna get you high today, 'cause it's Friday; you ain't got no job... and you ain't got shit to do." Smoky from Friday.

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