Opinion: Be More Like Chris

Jun 28, 2022
by Matt Wragg  
Header for Matt s Op Ed pieces.


Words: Matt Wragg

Being good at riding bikes has nothing to do with being a mountain biker. That is a truth that many of us seem to forget.

There is a strand of mountain biking where it is crucial - competition. If you want to race a World Cup or throw yourself down the cliffs in Zion, then being good at is really important. But, and this is important, that is not the same thing as being a good mountain biker.

There is only one thing you need to be a good mountain biker - you need to love mountain bikes and riding them. That’s it. When I stop and think of mountain biking through that simple lens, I can’t think of a better mountain biker than my friend Chris.

He would be the first to tell you that he was never the fastest or fittest guy. At school, he was an awkward kid. He didn’t really fit in, seeking solace in heavy metal and even heavier bikes. He took to the woods aboard a Cannondale Super V that he still reminisces fondly over today.

By the time I met him at university, he was riding a Mountain Cycle San Andreas. Hanging off it was a Marzocchi Shiver, Hope 6-piston brakes, and Atomlab Trailpimps. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous and heavy.

Only recently have I truly understood that mountain bikes are not practical things. When you are buying a lawnmower, how it works is all that matters. With a mountain bike, how it makes you feel is at least as important. Chris understood that 20+ years ago. He never cared how fast they could go, he just wanted the biggest, baddest bike he could build because that made him happy. He’d have been a natural in the Ukrainian Steet Etz scene.




In hindsight, my years riding with Chris were deeply important to me. After leaving home I drifted away from bikes into the club and drug scenes, but we started riding together occasionally in between my comedowns. I’d get the text: “Cannock Chase this week?” On a big weekend, we’d make it as far as Wales for an uplift.

After rattling down whichever downhill track we rode, my poor, already aging, Azonic DS1 would be in a bad way. So followed evenings of hanging out at Chris’ flat while ‘we’ fixed my bike. In truth, it was usually Chris who did the fixing, often after I had tried on my own and sheered a few bolts.

I don’t remember much of the mechanical parts of those evenings, but I do remember talking about music, politics and life, endless cups of tea, and Chinese takeaway as payment for his help. When I came to buy my first full-suspension bike, it was, of course, Chris who sold it to me. In fact, he was a huge part of my first four or five bikes.

They were the years when I realized that my love of bikes was something enduring, not just a childhood obsession that would pass with age. He brought me into his world and showed me how to be a part of the sport I had only been able to longingly gaze at from the outside as a teenager. It was all about trying new things, having fun, and spending time with good people - being good at riding was never really something we worried about.




Since leaving the UK, I don’t get to ride with him much - probably not in more than a decade - but we're still close and speak regularly. Working as a product manager in the bike industry, I know Chris sees his work as a chance to share his enthusiasm for bikes with as many people as possible.

Every few weeks I get a text message. Now that his son is old and strong enough, the pair of them are always out as an unbearably adorable father-son combo, riding at trail centers, bike parks, or off backpacking in the local woods. The biggest goal in his life right now is waiting for his daughter to grow a little so she can join their adventures.

Wanting to show his fast-growing son the best things in this world, it melts my heart to know that he is taking him to many of the same spots where we used to ride. His son was born after I left the country, so I have never really got to know him, but somehow I feel a profound connection to him through where he takes him riding. He is not an expressive person, I’m not sure he ever would say it, but it makes me understand how much those years meant to him too.

It is easy to love something you are good at. How many of us spend our riding lives wrapped up in trying to be good at mountain biking, rather than appreciating every single moment for the gift it is? We should try to remember that being good is a barrier, something that puts people off, worrying that they might not measure up. We must not forget that the real heart of sport is in sharing it with others, and Chris is the person who showed me the world that lead to my career, my marriage and so much more.

As someone who felt their social exclusion keenly as a teenager, I know that Chris would tear down every barrier if he could, he would never accept that someone else might be dissuaded from experiencing the same joy he found.

I believe that our sport would be a far better place if we could all be more like Chris.


179 Comments

  • 411 0
 This is important. Thank you for saying this.
  • 23 0
 Sums it up perfectly!..
  • 32 2
 But, what’s the HA and effective seat tube angle on Chris’s bike.
  • 301 9
 "There is only one thing you need to be a good mountain biker - you need to love mountain bikes and riding them." f*cking AMEN!
  • 37 1
 It may be possible that a tiny minuscule portion of mountain bikers love their bikes than they do riding them.
  • 13 0
 “To sing you must first open your mouth. You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music. It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar. The essential thing is to want to sing. This then is a song. I am singing.” - Henry Miller.

Although I first heard it in a Refused song.
  • 6 0
 Exactly how I feel watching any Voreis edit
  • 23 53
flag nickfranko (Jun 28, 2022 at 15:14) (Below Threshold)
 Unless you ride an E-bike.
  • 32 35
 @nickfranko: 2018 called, they said even they don't want your bigoted BS attitude back because it was old and tired even then. Fancy making that comment on an article like this, you really missed the point didn't you
  • 12 30
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jun 28, 2022 at 16:38) (Below Threshold)
 @nickfranko: Riding an e bike is bad, but no mention of helping other trail users that have issues, doing volunteer trail work, or not littering. I guess I'm a bad mountain biker but I'll keep trying.
  • 23 2
 @DoubleCrownAddict: nothing worse then a self imposed martyr looking for attention. And sanitized trails.
  • 4 22
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jun 28, 2022 at 19:58) (Below Threshold)
 @Eatsdirt: @Eatsdirt: You have confused martyrdom with critical sarcasm. The article should have been titled 'How to be a happy mountain biker', not how to be a good one.
  • 9 1
 @nickfranko: This is about people living their bikes and riding them, if you love your Ebike and love riding it why should we care. I personally they are unnecessary for some people but, I’m not going to be a duck about it.
  • 2 0
 Auto correct
  • 8 2
 @nickfranko: "the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you"
  • 4 0
 @baschyboy: This makes me feel much better! I have (slightly embarrassingly) told my non-bike friends that I am almost sure that sometimes I prefer building my bikes more than I do riding them...
  • 2 0
 @rosemarywheel: I finally bought my dream bike, as of now it may have more time in the air on its stand being worked on that on a trail. I have no qualifications whatsoever to work on my bike but it is therapeutic is some sense. At least until I mess something up and need to pay some unrealistic amount of money to have a shop fix it. The other day, I used the excuse of a “bent” derailleur hanger to justify fully rebuilding my drivetrain!
  • 1 0
 @baschyboy: It is absolutely therapeutic! I love switching out and building bikes. When asked I usually tell people to not clean the bike they are selling me because I enjoy taking it apart and cleaning everything myself and getting to know it.

I am currently almost ready to build up my Cove Playmate frame with a saint drivetrain, '03 Monster, Gazzaloddi or Hookworm tires, THE components rims, Hope Moto brakes, a remote reservoir shock, etcetera and I am forcing myself to just keep everything apart until it's all here and just take my time and spend a few hours assembling it.

I just pay the shop to have suspension and wheels done up for me. And removing headsets.
  • 1 0
 @rosemarywheel: Hope Moto 6 piston brakes?!
  • 1 0
 @baschyboy: No, those are Mono 6's. These are actually a bit cooler (I have those too...) and are HUGE one pot badassery. I know they don't look like much but up close they are ginormous and amazing to behold:

www.bikemag.com/blog/hope_moto_v2_test
  • 2 0
 @baschyboy: I know I cried a lot after discovering cracks on a couple of bikes I owned... The bike is a mean and an end on itself. It takes you where you want to go (physically and mentally) and becomes a goal on itself, in terms of building/customizing it...
  • 132 1
 I've always loved biking and have always ridden alone and done my own thing. I've gotten some people into it, but still ride alone.

I can tell you one this with absolute certainty:

When you get old enough that your body starts to fail you and when your knees hurt like bone-on-bone after you ride because you know it will hurt but you do it anyway...you WILL cherish every ride because you just don't know how many you have left. That scares the f*ck out of me.
  • 17 1
 Wow, this resonates with me. I hit the crap knee stage a while ago and didn't really ride properly for a few years and that was a really depressing time. An e-bike has allowed me to get back into riding again which has been a life saver.
  • 1 0
 Bad wrists, bad knees, years of MTB crashes, skateboards, dirt bikes, I know exactly what you mean! I worry how my body will feel in another 10 or 20 years and hope I can do this as long as possible! Sometimes I ride alone and just feel the ride and get my exercise and think. Other times ride in groups and laugh and hoot and holler!
  • 80 0
 Maybe one of the best things I’ve read here. Thank you.
  • 4 2
 I am slightly late to the party, but i agree. Matt, thank you. I loved it.
  • 52 0
 This is sort of where I'm at now. Just the other day I was explaining to my wife that I think my days of "progressing" are over and I may focus on riding with my kids more, now that they are 9 and 11 and both seem to enjoy riding with me (though not with each other!).

I broke my back last year riding at MSA and required spinal fusion on one of the lower thoracic vertebra - I can't quite remember which one anymore. Also broke three ribs and my coracoid process. It's been a pretty long recovery, and at first my goal was to get back to where I was before the accident: gently progressing to bigger and bigger jumps, playing on my dirt jumper at the indoor bike park and generally riding gnarlier lines. But my progress hasn't been as quick as I'd wanted. Reading about other professional athletes who have been through similar injuries (Bulldog and Jess Blewitt come to mind), and who have recovered to their full potential is a double edged sword - on the one hand it's inspirational, on the other hand it's hard not to wonder "why am I not recovering as well as they did"?

But now that I've started to ride with my kids more, I'm realizing it's just as rewarding - if not more, and I enjoy it just as much. It's like a new chapter, and getting to watch them progress and love this activity as much as I do is pretty awesome. Who knows, maybe in a few more months or years I'll be sending it with them at the bike park again. But for the time being, I'm enjoying the ride that I have!
  • 7 0
 There was a scene in the surf movie “Shelter” where Nat Young says some thing pretty cool. “The only good thing about getting older is it takes less waves to be satisfied”. I’ve found this to be true in most aspects of life as I age. Plus the older I get the more stoked I get to see other people riding well and the less I am frothing to be “that guy” that is on the biggest set wave or first in the crew to send a feature. While I’ve been laid up for months over 50 it’s nothing compared to what you’ve been through but it does have an effect on that mindset shift.
  • 3 0
 This rings true for me. I've just returned to biking after 14 years albeit on a bowhead after a spinal injury. The bowhead is so capable and if find myself pushing harder on it going bigger and bigger. I had the realization the other day, that I don't really need to push hard or prove anything. I'm pushing 40 i love going riding with my buddies again and now i want to introduce my 9 and 6 year old to mountain biking. I also need to stay healthy for them so i'm just going to dial it back a bit and enjoy the ride.
  • 4 0
 Riding with your kids is the best. It really has changed the sport for me and added a whole new dimension to the MTB experience.
  • 6 0
 @MT36: different strokes I guess, my kids ride but don't love it nearly as much as me so I'd rather keep bike riding my thing. I give them lots of opportunities but beyond exposure kids need to find their passions independently. It was the same thing with my Dad and motorbikes. I liked it but didn't love it, so the way he did it as an all-consuming love affair wasn't fun for me.
  • 4 0
 @plyawn: Definitely. I consider myself fortunate because my 10 year old loves riding and he actually pushes me pretty hard... I didn't think I would be hitting 20ft table tops in my 40s at the bikepark but I'm not about to let the little guy surpass me just yet.

But I am lucky. It is really up to the kids to have their own passions because they are their own individual selves.
  • 2 0
 @MT36:
Agree 100%. I got lucky in that my oldest likes the sport. Finding time to ride is tough though. I kinda thought my youngest wasn't going to be into it, but he totally surprised me this year when he asked to ride. And we had a great time. I'm not going to pressure them either way, but I think the secret is to follow their lead and to keep it fun... and even if they're not as passionate about it as I am, it's still awesome to get out when we do...
  • 3 0
 @slyfink: same, I let my son take the lead, try not to pressure him because that sucks out the fun and creativity. Once in a while the wife and I require that he ride if he has a generally negative attitude and needs to self regulate (ahem, can't imagine where he got that gene ahaha). I know kids can change their interests on a whim so every day I get out with him is valuable
  • 2 0
 @MT36: Yup, i know that one... Now i ride places with my boy... but not WITH him.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN7x4hPKiA0

He races DH (Turns 14 on Saturday) and crushes me on everything.. I've sat and wondered "how does he gap me..." and watching this one, now i know the answer hahahahhaa.

But it's brilliant and often he'll choose to ride with me instead of his buddies, which is the ultimate compliment a parent can get i think.
  • 2 0
 @MT36: absolutely. I got lucky my youngest (3yrs) is wildly into riding. I ride with him as much as I can, but he knows when I need to ride on my own. It’s as if he already understands the mental benefits of riding; something I didn’t find until my 30s. It’s very satisfying watching him hit a roller, or finally stand up and crank up a hill.
  • 45 1
 I wanted a Mountain Cycle San Andreas so bad back in high school. Spent way too long flipping through the grey market pages of MBA and scheming about how I was going to afford one.
  • 20 0
 And Shaums March doing Nac Nacs on one further contributed to their desirability.
  • 7 1
 i spent time there learning welding and forming in the 1990s
  • 4 0
 @fjm35: Someone needs to put Plush the Movie on YouTube... Come to think of it, I might have the old VHS somewhere...
  • 2 0
 I had a poster on the wall of a San Andreas mountain cycle. I wanted one with spin 3 spoke carbon rims and a zzyzzx fork or a shiver for some reason...
  • 3 0
 @fjm35: Damn,I stared at those pictures in MBA too...
  • 4 0
 @alxtomlinson: DUDE! I forgot all about the zzyzx. Now I want them all over again and I still don't know why.
  • 3 0
 @sspiff: No you don't. They had the longevity of a dragonfly; 7-56 days.
  • 4 0
 I put a 99' Monster T on my raw San Andreas....ran RF Atlas DH cranks with full triple and Romic Shock, Gazzalodi's just because......
  • 2 0
 I had two between 2001 and 2006. It was my first introduction to the gravity side of MTB. Still have a San Andreas frame hanging in my garage but unfortunatly, the swingarm is cracked in multiples spots.
  • 3 0
 Someone needs to do a home job and revamp a San Andreas to modern mullet geo with modern parts and an intend upside down fork #justBecause
  • 1 0
 @iamamodel: no talking sense into a middle school brain. And that is the origin of my zzyzx lust.
  • 1 0
 @sspiff: Oh, I understand - I lusted after one too, but let me try one more time - it's a quick release! No through-axle! Warning! Warning Will Rodinson!
  • 45 0
 One thing Chris understands is DH bikes are fun even if not practical. Make dh great again!
  • 39 1
 Wait, so you're not trying to sell me something? I'm confused, I thought this whole mountain bike thing was about upgrades. I dont see any upgrades here, just feelings. Please delete PB and replace with article about how I need a new AI based drive train or bluetooth controlled goggles plz.. thx.
  • 27 1
 Don't be fooled, Chris is a pusher. The industry is stealing their new marketing from the illegal drug business. Chris lets you ride his bike for free, then he sells you his old bike for a deal, then next thing you know you are buying 5 bikes of all kinds you don't need, spending work hours on PB and slowly drifting away from your old life that was pretty darn good before Chris. Thanks Chris!
  • 5 2
 If you want all that, just go to GMBN's youtube channel. Even they think the pro's are wrong.
  • 1 0
 @pink505: That you "thought" was pretty darn good. Turns out MTB life is better.
  • 6 0
 @pink505:

Uhhh... this is just called "optimizing". The best way to add to your own quiver is to introduce a new friend to the sport and surprise, surprise, be willing to sell them your old [insert bike genre here] when you are about ready to upgrade.

I consider it my service to the sport. Wink
  • 2 0
 Selling the lifestyle = selling bikes Wink
  • 22 1
 Amen! I hope mountain biking keeps up with being inclusionary and the localism that persists in some places continues to be a small fraction of the population, not the norm. Surfing here in Santa Cruz has become absolutely unbearable with the amount of agro guys and gals out in the lineup...and I'm a capable "local" who knows the rules of the lineup.

These sports are about having fun, staying fit, and communing with nature...it's too easy for a few people with cruddy attitudes to ruin that.
  • 10 0
 ok question for you: do you feel like the aggression has ramped up since the covid lockdowns? I swear I never encountered such unbridled hostility in the water until the lockdowns hit. All of the sudden I had 40 y/o men blatantly cutting me off and telling me to leave surf spots I've frequented for the past 15 years. Bitch of the thing is too none of them ever want to follow through, it's all wave aggro that turns into 'don't touch me or I'll call the cops' on the beach. freaking madness.
  • 10 0
 @Caligula1620: Definitely seems to have ratcheted up a few degrees since COVID. Our surf spots are definitely more crowded which leads to frustrated surfers with shorter (than normal) fuses. They then assume that everyone in the lineup is a kook who they can scare out of the water. I broke 4 vertebrae, my scapula, my clavicle, and 2 ribs a few years back mountain biking so I paddle like a goon, I'm sure I look like a total spaz...or at least a hunchback. I have had 2 people tell me "I can tell by the way you're paddling that you belong at a beginner spot."
I've had a few negative experiences with mountain bikers, but it seems less frequent as long as you're respectful and have a good attitude yourself. It's the reason I sold 4 surfboards and bought a second bike Smile
  • 4 1
 @Caligula1620: If I may interject: I realize that you didn't ask me, and I don't know the first thing about surfing, but: Yes. I think the aggression has ramped up since covid, at least in my neck of the woods. There's just too many people out on bikes right now. Everywhere becomes crowded. That in and of itself wouldn't be an issue, as long as everyone would remain chill and stick to some basic rules...
  • 5 1
 @rockandride6: AHHH Santa Cruz. I had been surfing since the early 80's, a surfboard shaper on Maui... Santa Cruz made me hate surfing and move to greener pastures. Santa Cruz was more aggro in the 80's but there were at least rules. You didn't have wavestormers who think it is ok to go to from Costco to the main peak and paddle for every wave.
  • 3 2
 @Muscovir: craaap meant to upvote you and hit the down, sorry.
ya seems like it's happening everywhere, hopefully they all sell their gear and go back to watching netflix shows Big Grin
  • 3 0
 It is really unfortunate what has happened with surfing. It is such an amazing sport. But, there are only so many waves and so many spots that can create a rideable wave. It is popular for a reason so there are just too many people competing for a very finite resource.
  • 8 0
 @MT36: I hear that, but imo surfing is arguably the only sport where there is no upkeep done by the surfers. Sure you might pick up trash on the beach, but it's not like dudes are going out and grooming waves and keeping the water maintained like people do with trails. I understand protecting something you've put a lot of time into creating and maintaining, but bogarting something just because you have used it the most is the most asinine thing I've ever heard. if anything, your long history with that spot is evidence that you've had your fun and now it's time to eff off for others to share. I know you weren't supporting these a*sholes surfers btw
  • 4 0
 @Caligula1620: Yeah surfing culture makes the sport intolerable sometimes. Most surfers try to support a civil and respectful lineup, but then it doesn't take many competitive and condescending attitudes to kill the vibe. Especially if it is firing and the spot is decent, the social situation is too distracting for me to enjoy myself as much as I do on a bike.

But yes, the localism is crazy, just because someone lives somewhere and use a spot a lot doesn't entitle them to consider it theirs.
  • 2 0
 @Muscovir: Yeah, the savagery has definitely increased across all "action sports" IMO since Covid, but for surfing, it's been there forever, and steadily getting worse over the years. The difference between MTB and surfing (as someone else already pointed out) is that there are only a few select spots that break at any given time, and waves aren't scheduled - they come when they come, and there is typically only one wave for at most 2 people at a time. For riding, you may have to wait at the top for a group to go ahead of you, but you aren't competing for the trail you are riding every single time you go - the trail is always there. Unfortunately, there are too many surfers and too few waves, and in surfing culture, there is a status quo at many breaks where the "good" surfers feel like they have a right to more/better waves, and surf accordingly. It's one of the most fun and frustrating sports all at the same time.
  • 16 0
 Take it from an old guy: Never miss a chance to hangout and do fun stuff with your pals. I've lost 3 close friends to unexpected, early deaths and my biggest life-regret is not spending more time with them before they passed. It's a cliché but you really don't know when it's going to be your last chance to see them. So, I know you're tired and busy, but answer the call. You can rest when you're dead.
  • 14 0
 Good stuff, reminds me of when I was in high school and linking up with my buddy after class and duct taping flashlights to our helmets and handlebars in an attempt to go night riding. We weren't on the best of bikes, but definitely had the best of times on those rides.
  • 15 0
 The best thing about mountainbiking.....anybody can take from it whatever they want. Some want to smoke weed and cruise others want to train and race, there is no wrong way.
  • 17 1
 Btw: THIS would be a great topic for an indepth discussionin a 2h podcast...
  • 23 1
 Excellent idea. Added to the list Smile
  • 12 0
 Great article!
That was how mountain biking was for me growing up. We would build a bike with whatever we could find/afford and then go out and break them. Then spend the evenings patching them together so we could ride the next day.
Spending hours just sessioning one jump or one rock garden. Crashing, doing stupid stuff, just having fun and smiling.

I ride the same trails I used to ride back then and I mostly just see people with their heads down, headphones in, full racer mode. Maybe they are having fun, maybe that does it for them. But I rarely see them smiling.

To each their own, but I am still going to go and do stupid stuff on my bike...because it makes me smile.
  • 9 0
 I started skateboarding as a kid. Mostly with a friend from school. He started not much earlier than me. While i was trying to learn ollies etc. for years, it came pretty easy for him. I skated from like 8 y/o to the age of 16 when ever i could. In the following years it became less and less. Reason for this was probably mostly that i constantly compared myself to that friend and other people in the skateboarding community that i know. While i was struggling with Ollies and therefor just began with trying flips or flatland tricks which don't require an ollie, my friends were learning BS Crooks FS Shuvit out etc. During those 8 years of intensive skateboarding my level was stagnant for the last 4-5 years atleast. This began to frustrate me so much that i eventually quit skateboarding. But my peers always respected me in the local scene, because in the end you did it because you had fun rolling around on a piece of wood with friends. This is now ten years ago. If i go back to this city I am from, most of them still know my name and come up to have a chat.
So it was not that one had to be the best skateboarder to get respected. But the thing that made me quit was that I, myself felt like it's not enough and this stole all the fun i had with it...

The stupid thing if you've felt like this about something: it's hard work to get rid of this feeling. I occassionally get back on the board, but it somehow flicks a switch and I'm back in the same mode as i was back then. So after a few minutes, especially if you see someone else you know skatboarding, the fun disappears and I'm thinking about what all I should learn and what I should be able to do, instead of just having fun with it.

I'm very glad this didn't happen yet with mountainbiking...
  • 5 0
 I could never skate and despite getting an awesome deck for my birthday, I couldn't fake it enough to make it worth it. My brother even paid for admission to an indoor skatepark but all I did was watch the other kids and he was stumped why I didn't want to participate after dropping his cash on me. How thankful it is to find a sport you belong to like mountain biking. I sometimes wonder how many people might live their lives without finding their one true "thing". Also these solo sports are such a godsend to people who suffer through team sports like in school as introverted athletes.
  • 8 0
 I have been guilty of taking my hobbies too seriously, so when I rediscovered MTB I made a promise to myself not to take it too seriously - no racing etc. I think this has helped it turn from a “hobby” in to a way of life.
  • 11 1
 imo the cycling computer is the death of fun mtb rides. idgaf how many feet we've climbed or at what pace, just shut up and ride.
  • 6 0
 @Caligula1620: you spelled Strava wrong, lol
  • 1 0
 @mjraff: lol true
  • 2 0
 @Caligula1620: just install your Garmin mount on the underside of your bars and wheeey, you're having fun again!
  • 5 0
 @Caligula1620: that's the reason i ditched strava... it won't tell me if i felt good on the ride, if i railed that corner or did that new jump i was scared of. all it can do is tell me that i was faster three weeks ago or that somebody else is faster than me... but does that mean he has more fun?
  • 7 0
 What a great piece of writing! As my aging body regresses, my bicycles progress and I look forward to riding every day. I still come home bleeding sometimes, but its been a part of life for more than 30 years. Looking forward to the next 30!
  • 4 0
 Right on, 63 and todays ride was just as much fun as the ones I went on 38 years ago. Fit for life.
  • 6 0
 We need more articles like this! Someone told me recently "Don't ride with people who do not share the stoke..." This was an eye-opening reminder that the whole reason I got out of road cycling and into mountain biking was that I stopped caring about crushing a PR or flogging myself on a trainer to I could keep up with a group ride as riders got younger and fitter the longer I did it. These days I ride as fast or as slow as I want want without guilt and try to share the stoke as much as I can. I ride more with my kids than anyone else and help organize a weekly teen ride because nothing increases the stoke as much as seeing the look on a new or emerging mountain biker as they clear a feature for the first time.
  • 11 3
 The bottom bracket height of the hard tail in the first picture is ludicrously low.
  • 15 0
 It wasn't that low until Taj railed a berm on it.
  • 5 0
 The best mountain biker is the one with the most KOM's, bro. /s

Best time I ever had on a bike was me and the homies putting down our evening campfire beers and pedaling furiously up a fire road to catch an alpine lap of 403 in the waning sunlight. Got to the bottom just as the sun set on the valley and bombed down Gothic in the dark. The best mountain biker is the one making the best memories.
  • 6 0
 Yeah, gotta get more of those tailgate BBQ's after the ride. Good memories with friends during and after the rides. Also rides where you get hit by a storm unprepared and everyone comes out of it looking like Schwarzenegger covered in mud in Predator. Big Grin
  • 4 0
 @CSharp: Just another day in Alberta
  • 5 0
 I want to share this with my NICA team. Too often we get caught up in thinking that only the fastest riders are the best mountain bikers. That definitely isn't it. There is only one winner per race, and that doesn't mean the rest aren't rad riders too.
  • 5 0
 I miss the days of getting lost on trails, 2 hour rides turning into all day epics, with no cares in the world. However, I am a better rider now, at 50, then ever before. That is because I spend lots of my time working on my skills. I really enjoy sessioning, working on my crappy trial skills, it keeps biking interesting and challenging. Becoming a coach really helped, teaching makes you a better rider, forces you to master those fundamentals and to learn new skills.
  • 4 0
 You don’t have to be good at mtn biking to love it. But it certainly helps.. also helps if you have an active imagination, every trail I ride, I imagine I’m a pro jumping & whipping off everything. But in reality, I’m just cruising down..
  • 4 0
 When I first started racing DH at about age 14, I noticed that a lot of guys in the race scene seemed to have a chip on their shoulders. They all kind of reminded me of the stereotypical "hockey D-bag". I have gotten much better in my riding over the last 10+ years and I am still progressing but ultimately I am trying to remember there will always be some 12 year old who is faster than me at the local trails so why try and be the best? Just have fun and try and leave your ego at home when you go and ride. If you are trying to progress in your riding, you don't need to be better than anyone else, just better than you used to be.
  • 2 0
 Completely agree! I'm definitely not the fastest or most skilled, I just enjoy challenging myself. I set goals for myself that are fun to work towards and when I do reach them, I am stoked!
  • 3 0
 This is good to read because I'm having a hard time with getting older and not being able to ride like I used to (and to be fair, I was never that good to begin with). Still having fun though. I suspect the local KOMs would disagree with this as they certainly seem to be trying to drive everyone off the trails.
  • 3 0
 I love this! It's a good reminder that riding is all about the fun. Me and my dad ride a lot and he ride this old full ridged bike on some black diamond trails around here. I feel guilty as I'd sometimes look down on him. But I learned that it's not about the bike. It's about the fun we have on them. Old or new, from cheap to expensive, all of us share the same burning passion for biking !
  • 3 0
 Similar story... I wasn't near any significant racing or freeride scene, so didn't really feel the pressure to get good fast. Was just trying to enjoy myself and the love for the sport grew and grew and before I knew it, I was "accidentally" good at it as I moved to a mecca and chased the highs (and the few lows) around.

It was and seemingly forever will be the best thing to happen to me. Saved my life from depression, and gave me a "base purpose" where I could begin building back the strength to be able to occasionally overflow and help others. Lately, I've really been enjoying teaching random people I meet out on the trails who are open to some pointers... and haven't thought to charge for it. It's a way to give back to the community that seems to sustainably motivate me, so trust that you'll eventually fit in to this endlessly welcoming and supportive community.
  • 3 0
 Best thing I've EVER read here on Pinkbike @mattwragg, very well said (or written lol)!
One of my favourite things about where I live and play, is that most people here could care less what you're on.
It's all about the stoke YOU bring, not your bike's bling!
  • 3 0
 I'd like to think that not only do i have a 'Chris' but i'd also like to think that i AM a Chris myself for others i ride with.

It takes a certain mentality and compatibility in riders sometimes with a 'who cares where we are, we're outside and it's ace' and when you find that sort of compatibility it really brings your riding to another level. You know when you sit down half way up a stupid climb, Chris isn't thinking "come on, get on with it..." he's sitting there thinking "all i need is a beer now and we'd be in heaven"... Having your own Chris, or being your own Chris.... well, it's something we should all aspire to.

Thanks for a cracking article.

p.s Did you live in Berks for a while, i'm sure i used to see you on Strava segments.
  • 5 0
 Great sentiment and a fantastic reminder! We're all just adults playing on toys, just enjoy it and share the stoke!
  • 2 0
 I guess this is one of my fav articles ever on Pinkbike. Thanks, that was beautiful! With a kid on the way and I also noticed a shift in my perspective on riding. I don't really care about progressing that much anymore, it's the time on the bike that matters. Being outside with friends, having a great time, this is what matters the most. I lost a few good months recovering from injuries and I honestly think that at a certain age, progressing isn't really that important anymore. Our life is packed with competition everywhere. Let biking be about fun and giggles. Can't wait to go on rides with the little one.
  • 2 0
 It's so easy to get caught up in "better, stronger, faster" But in my 50's I've broke my legs twice trying to achieve that instead of enjoying being a mountain biker. It's taking me a while to retrain the brain, but I'm exploring more, and just enjoying being out there. Tough to change the mindset, but my body is thanking me. Great reminder Matt.
  • 5 0
 Contender for article of the year. It got me right in the feels.
  • 3 0
 Super article! I would add that a mountain biker should also love the environment that houses the trails, the trails and their builders.
  • 5 0
 Great read, the world could always use more Chris's. And heavy metal.
  • 4 0
 Riding with your kids is the best. I know many folks my age whose kids don't ride - all of those people are faster than me.
  • 2 0
 My best friends are exclusively people I've ridden or climbed or had other adventures with. Not intentionally, but it's true. Being outside and doing stuff with good people is the best, and riding bikes is my favourite.
  • 1 0
 I too dabbled in the club and drug scene, but it was mountain biking that pulled me out of it within months because I found I couldn't ride on Sunday after a serious bender, and also two hours of riding was better than six hours of dancing and conversing with the laser beams.
  • 1 0
 It's a perfect summary of what MTB is all about.
I'm so happy to ride the same trails and same places with my 13 years old daughther than I did with my dad in the past (and still doing it now). And sometimes I'm riding with my dad and my daughter, 3 generations on the same MTB trails. Love it.
  • 1 0
 I ride a 26" Intense 6.6 and its rips the mountain up. I love the bike but I love the mountains and the friendships and the feel of the elements on my skin. I love that my kids want me to watch them jump off their dirt ramps and the look on their faces of fun. I resonate with Chris' more so in this one article than any other published yet.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for acknowledging, this. Seems to me - even in competition circles - the winners are also the best mountain bikers. Otherwise - why continue? Where's the reward? Winning? Easier to do that playing checkers down at the city park! Nah - it's the emotional hit you get from moving. In this case - Mountain Biking - pedalling whatever ratty old steed you love. I mean - sure there are LOTS of teensy-peckered little boys out there who need to go out & purchase the latest blingy penis they can find every six months. And frankly - those little boogers are a PIA on the trail. No. Dang. Fun. Not friendly. And from what I've seen, not all that skilled, either. Sir Dodder on his 10year old, self-maintained off-the-shelf trail-bike in great condition, is who you want to ride with. Approachable. Friendly. Cheerful. Fun to be around. Welcoming. Always stops to help out. Performs at a level far beyond Junior Ballsdrop. Loves to share his experiences, his failures, his lessons, and the trail. And his bike? Doesn't matter. Except that it displays his respect for his sport, his equipment, and himself. It's his tool of choice. The canoe that he purchased 30 years ago, for that rare perfect day on the water. Or the nicely maintained 20 year old longboard, selected for his home-wave when it's lined-up & hollow. The tool he knows how to use, because he's lived with it & loved it for all those years. Paddling, pedalling, gliding along, or flying through the air - it's the love of movement that is the joy. The reward that keeps us coming back for more. The truth of what we do for years & years & this afternoon & Sunday morning. OH! BTW..., screw paragraphs. And to hell with grammar.
  • 5 1
 I’m devastated, being good at riding bikes was always my goal.
  • 2 0
 @mattwragg I just realized that this was probably exactly what I needed to hear. And right now that I did hear it, all I can say is: Amen, brother. And thank you, Matt.
  • 1 0
 At 35 I just find it interesting that a lot of the fast KOM smashing weekend racing, go full send Enduro bro's I used to ride with burned themselves out or got injured and don't ride much anymore?
  • 2 0
 Sometimes I really like riding trails quite slowly. I know some people who seem to always want to ride at top speed, they don't ever ride slowly. But it is fun!
  • 3 0
 @Caligula1620: the best is when following someone slower to try to ride opposite foot forward. Or just for the hell of it.
  • 2 0
 This weekend my friend suggested that the best mountain biker was the one who had the most friends they could get to come riding. Seems like as good a measure as any
  • 4 0
 Great post
  • 2 0
 Never thought I'd tear up reading a Pink Bike article. Really well written, thanks Matt!!!!!!!!
  • 4 0
 This is real content.
  • 2 1
 I'm before the barrage of comments saying the sport and community are just fine, no need to do anything different whatsoever...
  • 1 1
 Cool story bro
  • 3 0
 Thank you for writing this. Gave me a moment of pause.
  • 3 0
 Some decent words in there.
  • 4 0
 Best PB article ever
  • 1 0
 I feel like Chris used to work at Bike Pro circa 2002 but I could be completely wrong. This all sounds a bit familiar though!
  • 2 0
 Thanks for sharing this, Matt - awesome writing! We all deserve a Chris in our lives to remind us what's important. ;-)
  • 2 0
 I am suffering from pretty bad depression, and anxiety lately. This article put a smile on my face. Thank you.
  • 2 0
 Great post Matt! Thanks for sharing
  • 3 0
 Woah. Yeah!
  • 3 0
 Fantastic, thank you!
  • 2 0
 Great opinion piece, I couldn't agree more.
  • 2 0
 Thank you for writing that.
  • 1 0
 MTB are "Wall Art" when you're not riding them, It's important to have a badass DH bike for this reason alone.
  • 2 0
 I've never been especially good at biking, but I've always loved it.
  • 1 0
 Question: what can the bike industry do to promote the riding and mentality of Chris?
  • 1 0
 (and people who ride like him)
  • 2 0
 Teach your kids about bikes and theyll never have money for drugs
  • 1 0
 Great story. Thanks for reminding us that it's not always about fasted times and conquering climbs.
  • 2 0
 Thank you @mattwragg for the beautiful words.
  • 2 0
 @mattwragg: Great story Matt thank you.
  • 3 1
 Amen.
  • 1 0
 Great story Matt, well written and smile worthy.
  • 1 0
 All hail Atomlab! Miss those guys!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, be more like Chris.
  • 2 0
 Great piece.
  • 1 0
 Great great article, everybody should be more like Chris.
  • 1 0
 Speed and Power.
  • 3 2
 Nerds
  • 2 4
 this should be everyone's reply to this. mountain bike isn't even for dentists anymore it's for gen z non-gendered fruity nerds
  • 1 3
 @rideitall-bmx-dh-road-unicycle: keyboard warriors looking for their next safe space and the end of the rainbow.
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