Opinion: The Dirtbag Life

Jun 4, 2015
by Mike Kazimer  
Spinning Circles column Mike Kazimer

Eric Beck, a Yosemite rock climber in the 1960s, famously said, “At either end of the social spectrum lies a leisure class.” Reaching one end of that social spectrum typically requires either winning the lottery or a fat trust fund, which is why I fully endorse aiming for the other side, the one where the dirtbags reside.

'Dirtbag' is used as a term of endearment in this case, to describe someone whose sole priority is the sport of their choosing, whether it's biking, climbing, skiing, or any other endeavor that involves copious amounts of time spent outdoors. It's a dedication to a life that's a little out of the ordinary, where success isn't measured in dollars, but by how much time is spent at play. Granted, being a dirtbag is easiest before kids, 'real jobs', and mortgage payments set in, but that doesn't mean it's not possible to step off the corporate ladder and make recreating more of a priority than watching the stock market. Whether you just graduated, or are considering a change in priorities, here are a few quick tips on how to make the most of life as a dirtbag:

• Don't work too much: The whole purpose of being a dirtbag is to ride your bike as much as possible, so working 60-80 hours a week is out of the question. The goal is to find a job with a flexible schedule, ideally one that isn't five days a week. Bartending or restaurant work are good options due to the evening hours and the cash tips, although not everyone is cut out for life in the food service industry. Working in a bike shop won't pay as much as waiting tables, but it does come with the benefits of being able to score discounts on bikes and components, which helps make up for the low wages. Brush up on your wrenching or sales skills, and do what it takes to end up employed by a reputable shop. No matter what, you'll learn a lot, meet new friends, and in many cases realize that you never ever want to own a shop of your own.

Ride.
Play more, work less.

• Avoid unnecessary vehicle related debt: Your priority is mountain biking, not winning the 'my truck is bigger and shinier than yours' contest, so there's no need to take on a pile of debt just so you can have a vehicle manufactured in this decade. The best tactic? Do everything in your power to live within riding distance of high quality trails. That way the money saved by not driving can be spent on more important things, like bike parts and food.

• Live with like-minded friends: Filling a house full of mountain bikers will likely result in kitchen drawers being used to store tools and parts, and the bathtub will be permanently graced with a ring of dirt and grease, but it also makes it easy to find a riding partner at any hour of the day. The goal is to pay as little rent as possible, but if you can, find a place with a garage, since having a house filled with bikes can cause some issues. Years ago I had a landlord threaten to evict my roommates and I after finding out that we'd turned the living room into a makeshift bike shop, complete with a repair stand and a dozen or so bikes propped against the walls.

• Enjoy: After all, that's the whole point of choosing to be a dirtbag in the first place – embracing the exuberance that comes from a long ride, relishing every perfect corner and floaty jump, and savoring the ability to ride as much as you want. These are the memories that you'll end up calling upon further down the road, during an endless meeting, a painfully long day of work, or in a brutal traffic jam, when remembering those blissful dirtbag moments will make the mundane that much more tolerable.

It'd be easy to read these tips as encouragement for laziness and sloth, but that's not it at all. Living life as a dirtbag, no matter how briefly, often results in venturing down paths that wouldn't have otherwise appeared. A summer spent rebuilding your fork over and over again may spark an interest in attending school for engineering, or maybe a cracked chainstay will be motivation to take welding classes at the local tech college. Who knows, what started out as a few years of dirtbag living could lead to a career designing the mountain bikes of the future.

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133 Comments

  • 190 10
 When I was 20 I was a dirtbag, when I was 25 I realized chicks liked guys that actually had their shit together, now I'm 30 with 2 kids and wife. I have fond memories of the dirt bag life. But all the joy and freedom doesn't compsre to watching you own flesh and blood learn to ride a bike. Oh, btw, I'm still a dirt bag... Ride at least four days a week and hold down a solid job. Stay in school, hustle hard.
  • 8 4
 +20 and can buy sweet new rigs more often, as well as retire young hahah
  • 9 1
 ...ahem...at 42...you begin to realize that like the old fable of the "Ant and the GrassHopper" at some point you have to take care of your future...
  • 6 1
 Or can you buy bike parts with food stamps?
  • 17 3
 Stay in school, hustle hard. This is my new favorite saying ever, really nails it!
  • 6 1
 @NorthcountyAM Right there with you, and it certainly helps to have a spouse that fully supports the addiction most of us have. Without that support, divorce is sometimes an unfortunate outcome. Oh, and having kids beg to ride their bikes every day is priceless. Can't get enough of it!

...but overall, still a dirt bag at heart.
  • 34 71
flag freeride-forever (Jun 4, 2015 at 9:55) (Below Threshold)
 I beg to differ. @ 25 you figured out how to throw your life in the shitter. All the JOY & FREEDOM doesn't compare, because it beats all that other stupid trivial bullshit. f*ckin' best way is don't even have any stupid kids. That's my way (always the best way of course). I hate the dumb little shits & the world is overpopulated anyway. Stop being so selfish ya fvckin' dicks & adopt one instead of makin' more if ya jus' gotta have one. :/
  • 13 5
 school... whats that good for ? its rare that any school will teach you how to garden or hunt , or build a house without money. dont be tricked into focusing solely on money, hard work is mandatory to get what you want of course us bikers and builders know that,but if you go to work everyday and still rely on walmart than your not thinking clearly about your future , you need money for buying bikes so ya work as much as you have too for your own satisfaction, imagine not realizing till your 40 that the only way you know how to feed yourself and your family is threw a grocery store....
  • 13 3
 so many unwanted kids out there already why yeah gotta make more, you could completely change a hopeless little kids life if you need an addition to the fam jam
  • 12 2
 @freeride-forever you have a way with words that even Shakespeare would be jealous of!
  • 18 2
 I was a dirtbag in my early 20s, but I was a night cook at a ski resort here. Rocked my knees pretty hard and doctor recommended cycling to help rehab my knees. Tried a road bike and gave that up after my first couple rides. Then i tried mtb and ended up liking it more. Still occasionally board in the winter, it's nice to have 2 season dependant hobbies so you dont get burned out.

Went to school, got a career and got married. Have 2 kids.

I do work 45 hours a week, but my wife lets me ride twice a week no questions asked and would let me ride more if i wanted. She also lets me buy bikes and i can afford the ones i want. Its a win-win .

PS: all you "just adopt kids" kids sound like you're 16. The reason no one wants to adopt kids are the cost. I looked into it and it was minimum 40-50k up to 100k+ depending on where you get the kid and the state you live in. I decided I'd just make my own. It's a lot more fun and it only costs a few grand with that health insurance i get with my career.

People need to stop having kids that aren't prepared, but that will never happen. Get over yourselves
  • 37 13
 umm...saying "having kids is dumb" is a bit like someone who's only ever been playing in a mud puddle all their lives...and you show up and try and tell them about the Ocean and they're like "oh that sounds like crap". Trust me, there is no greater expansion of one's heart than to see the physical evidence of you and your wife's love in the life of your child. bikes compare to having kids like how a piece of crap compares to a filet mignon....
  • 11 7
 @preach what kind of douchebags do we have on this site that would down-vote your comment? My wife is 38 weeks pregnant and I am looking very forward to it. I am 38 though, well into my career and prepared for what it entails emotionally and financially.
  • 16 3
 @meesterover it happens my bro. Hard to explain how amazing something is to people who have no frame of reference (yet) for what you're talking about. Blessings on your wife and new baby homie.
  • 10 1
 "being a dirtbag is easiest before kids, 'real jobs', and mortgage payments"...

...the article I wanted to read was about dirtbags who had already bought into this trifecta of no-riding factors, who still get the riding in, and aren't at the "way other end" of the financial scale. Dudes who have made it already can do all these things and ride all they want - semi-retired at 40, private school for the kids, Swedish au pair to drive the kids around, and house paid for. Not interested in those people at all.

The guys I ride with on weekends with have kids, jobs, mortgages, and still ride 4 times a week. I ride with them because their dedication impresses me, and they hold it down on the home front just fine. Our front and back yards all look like s*** but that's only because we're going to plow it down and build a pump track anyway.
  • 13 1
 I addopted two special needs kids. GREATEST thing i did followed by riding my bike.
  • 3 0
 @twozerosix well said! And yes, my yard does look like shit too. However, the trails are primed
  • 2 2
 DIRTBAG LIFE RULES!
  • 1 1
 @UtahBikeMike: your wife lets you? sounds more like a mother than a wife
  • 2 0
 @procex:

Are you married, with kids?


If not you've got a lot to learn.
  • 1 1
 @UtahBikeMike: naw, that would take away from time to reply to a two-year old blurb...
  • 2 0
 @twozerosix:

No, that would be @procex

Pinkbike gives you a notification when people mention your username in a post. Isn't technology neat?
  • 1 0
 @UtahBikeMike: I wish there was a reply-all command on PB
  • 1 0
 I wish there was away to mute the 2 year old bullshit.
  • 39 2
 To make this dream a reality I'm planing on taking advantage of the tiny house movement and build my own. There are a few guys I ride with that want to do it too, one of them already does and has a start-up bike company of his own with the machine shop on site, so we could totally have a dirtbag community and a shred piece of property. would only cost 15,000 for a complete house if i do it right. after that, it will be partially off grid and there will be no mortgage or rent to pay. it may not be legal in all areas, but its a great way to live a dirt bag life. plus I'm a mechanic at a local shop, so I'm not paying for maintenance and parts are minimal expense to keep the riding going. Dirtbag for life haha
  • 2 0
 I visited Lichen's new shop the other day and just briefly saw his house. The idea seems pretty smart as long as you have a shop for the bikes. And a shop for the Volvo & Subaru race wagons.
  • 1 0
 this is called a commune lol. just move to nelson BC then (where i grew up) and join one.
  • 5 0
 If the idea of bike kitchens (bike facilities where you rent wrenching stations) take off in more places, this could be a possibility without having to actually "share" a shop. As my wife and I watch our kids grow up in the suburbs, surrounded by friends that need to brag about how much stuff they have, we've been seriously considering going at least somewhat minimalist as well. With 3 kids of course, "tiny house" would have to be relative.
  • 2 0
 Too right mate, I plan on making an eventual permanent move to BC because Australia just doesn't allow me to live the life I want. Fortunately the tiny house movement is a bit easier for me to achieve been a Carpenter, I just need to organise the funds and figure out where exactly I want to live Big Grin
  • 1 0
 and pay for property....
  • 2 0
 I would love to live in Alma, Colorado with no worries in the world.
  • 42 4
 there will be those people that completely dis this kind of lifestyle only because they didn't take the chance to live it.

*puts on flak-jacket*
  • 39 4
 Or because they don't understand it, because they aren't passionate about anything. Most people would rather work a "regular job" 5 days a week, make more money and get wasted on friday and saturday night.
  • 3 8
flag WAKIdesigns (Jun 3, 2015 at 23:19) (Below Threshold)
 Aka dressing others up with bits of your own treats. Why guilt?
  • 10 19
flag LucasCrowe (Jun 3, 2015 at 23:23) (Below Threshold)
 As a 14 year old I've noticed the dirtbag life is easy for me because I've had to work before and I know it eats away time but it's not full time so I have plenty of extra time to ride which I'm grateful for. The other thing I noticed is that when I explain to people downhill and tell them I when I grow up I will race world cups, and people look at me dumbstruck, what I'm trying to say is no matter what sport you do people will try to put down but I've realized to stop riding that train and just make grape juice with lemons
  • 35 5
 I can only tell you fabdemaere, that I am passionate about three or four things and I have a "regular" job 5 days a week. That's just projecting and bypassing to boost the value of dirtbag life, what you wrote there. If someone is not passionate about his work, then he is in deep sht, because he spends 40h a week, that is half of the time he is awake, on doing something he does not like, making him miserable. Any idiot can work in the office for 40 hours a week and buy a 10k bike - just like any idiot peel potatoes, wash dishes and then go out for a ride every day. Go through bike shops in our town, look how many of the kids/dudes working there, fk around, do nothing, looking like "I'd freaking rather be elsewheeeeere!", with attitude that 80% of their clients are idiots because they are not into kind of biking they are into. Oh another idiot wanting a 29er. I saw them in the woods, they suck there too. Then they come online and glorify "dirtbag" life, cater to their low self esteem by calling people legends, then bring down other people by saying "why Rat didn't brake before the wooden bridge? He had it!", and argue about which direction should RB Rampage be going.

I am terribly sorry, dirtbag life is cool and works better for some than others, but getting an impression that everyone ought to have it is the actual dumb part. Maybe everyone should try anal sex? Why not, maybe you'll like it, come on! Stimulating prostate this way can be as pleasurable as through your penis. Makes sense to me.
  • 13 6
 @WAKi fyi, I work nightshifts in a freezer (-25*c), so I can ride as much as possible during the day. I hate it, but I keep doing it because I love riding. At anytime, I could go back to Belgium, where my parents would gladly pay for the studies, accomodation, food and even partying of their ungrateful kid. But I choose not to. Don't judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, its comment on the internet.
Dirtbag4lyfe
  • 7 3
 Sure, and it great it works for you! Just like mine works for me. In a way Big Grin
  • 31 0
 It all comes down to priorities, its very simple to understand. I can skip dinner with my friends to go ride, but I'm not skipping grandmas birthday to go ride. I love riding my bike, therefore I need to a sustainable income to feed my addiction.

I lived like a dirtbag (in my own way) and realized I love mechanics and all sorts of fabrication. What Mike is saying is pretty on point. But I never want to settle for less, I want to live big and if that means I have to skip a day or two of riding during the week in order to thrive for success in the long run, then I will do it.

I will be pedaling till I'm dead, but I wont be a broke bastard on a 90's hardtail while I'm doing it.
  • 10 0
 Being a dirt bag has nothing to do with what you do for a job or your education, for example I have several degrees and work as a psychologist in a federal prision, have a wife and two kids, a mortgage,and all those other responsibilities that come with all that classist bull sh__t! A true dirt bag can play the sociatal game, as his passion for leisure, family, and work don't have to compete with each other, they actually compliment each other in a unified and syncrhonized dance of fun and self fulfillment. Whats better than enjoying biking, skiing, moto,etc.........sharing and raising others to do the same! A dirt bag can be more than a happless, jobless, unidirectional bloke. A dirt bag is the one who finds pleasure in everything they find worth while doing! A dirt bags is the one who relizes that quantaty is a number and quality is a state of mind! A dirt bag is not a lifestyle it is a calling for something more! A dirtbag searches out for the natural energies that flow all around us at every given moment and tune in. well thats what a dirt bag is to me...........yours truely, at 42 years and going strong, a dirtbag till the end!!!!!!
  • 28 0
 I wanna be a dirt bag but the best i can do is douche bag and they arent as cool or likable.
  • 13 0
 @WAKIdesigns, 100% agree, if the dirt bag life works for you, great, but (and this happens with skiers too) don't act like you're doing something noble by choosing to spend all your time embracing the hedonism of MTB or skiing. If you were quitting your job to work for a nonprofit building homes in a 3rd world country, I would salute you, but really you're just doing it because its pleasurable.

I work a 40+ hour week each week and still ride 3 or 4 days most weeks, and everyone in my life thinks I'm obsessed with MTB (I am) but I still get looked down upon by those who choose to throw everything else out the window so they can ride nonstop? Sorry, MTB is the greatest passion in my life, but its not the only passion in my life.
  • 1 0
 @ironyeti. Yeah, but that was the best comment,yet.-fellow DB
  • 3 0
 I completely get why some people would want to go dirtbag for the rest of their lives. For me, though, I met a girl, got married and had kids. It's pretty tough to entertain the idea of living a dirtbag lifestyle beyond a planned vacation's timespan (which makes the whole thing categorically non-dirtbag). People like me are forced to strike a balance which tends to mean some compromises. We ride after work when we can and just don't when we have "family stuff" get in the way. We get a few weekend days per month but they are interspersed with kids' sporting events and spouses need breaks too. I have a hard time envisioning a dirtbag lifestyle along with having a family without making some moral compromises that I'm just not willing to make.
  • 2 0
 Its just because you know whats actually important in life
  • 1 1
 A father of two small kids here as well - I miss the good old times, riding all days, sleeping only 4 hours, then going to The Candy Factory for the late shift and packing fudge all night
  • 5 0
 isn't it so that the grass is always greener on the other side?
if you have a proper job and family -> you don't ride much
if you're living the dirtbag life .... you ride a lot, but don't have money for more than that
not easy to find a good balance
  • 7 0
 so you're a fudge packer Waki? Interesting.....
  • 1 0
 Eee, yea I used to be, what's wrong with that?
  • 5 0
 nothing, absolutely nothing! you are free to be whomever you choose.
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fudge+packer
  • 29 1
 I was a "dirtbag" from the age of 14 till my mid 30s..
Lived the life working in shops
Driving shit cars (still do)
Had loads of debt
But always had decent bikes!

Then i met my future wife..
Very awesome woman
Mother of my awesome baby boy
Real boss of my very own bikeshop

So, im still a dirtbag in every way..
Ride/race most sundays plus once per weekday
Doing the exact same job ive done since i was 17..

Your life is what you make it, but when the time comes, meeting the right woman (or man!) helps. So does explaining in an adult way, how mental/crazy/moody you get if you DONT ride enough. That is what makes ME who i am !
  • 6 0
 Word.
  • 2 1
 Word Up!
  • 20 1
 My idea of an mtb dirtbag is someone who wakes up in the back of their clapped out 4Runner, throws on their torn jeans "fixed" with the genius of zap straps, grabs a coffee and a Monster, puts on their half smashed TLD, messed up 510's and a Slipknot sleeveless then throws their 10 year old V-10 on the third chair of the day and absolutely destroys lap after lap until they close the lift. And they're dirty.
  • 20 1
 Cookielowc. A monster AND a coffee?
Man,between the diarrhea ,heart palpatations and rebound headache,..ill just go to work.
  • 2 2
 @cookielowc: coffee and monster is routine in the infantry during iteration after iteration of dry/blank/live; all in one day multiple times. For me, cycling is the time to not pump that through me. You're not wrong, just a different perspective. I would rather waste my monster and coffee on bikes.
  • 2 0
 Shit boys...I'm not talking about me. I have 2 kids, a wife, a mortgage, a job (with Chromag) and I keep my shit tight yo.

I have witnessed the above many times living in Whistler.
  • 18 0
 I'd make one important edit: AVOID ALL UNNECESSARY DEBT. While credit is not flowing as freely as it was a few years ago, it is still waaaay too easy to get credit. Debt is sometimes necessary for certain long term investments (e.g. school, a home, a vehicle you need to live your life). But really focus on minimizing how much money you owe.

If you use a credit card, pay it off completely every month. If you are not doing that right now, make it a big priority because those interest rates will bleed you dry.

Banks make a huge amount of their $$$ off of people making poor financial decisions, don't become another sucker.

There is no free money.
  • 6 0
 well said that man. and don't waste money on shit you don't need, I gave up my cellphone 4 years ago, on eof the best things i ever did!
  • 17 0
 When I worked for Race Face back in the day I was making $9 an hour and living off of Mr. Noodles and Bagels. One day I couldn't pay my insurance on my car because I was broke. Insurance place wouldnt take headsets or cranks instead of cash so I wound up pedalling/taking transit to get to work. Then I realized how assinine it was to work a shit job and starve just to get a deal on bike parts. I work an ok job now but boy oh boy does steak ever taste delicious.
  • 16 1
 Every day/yr that passes...I realize I need less and less shit. I started yrs ago by never paying more than 5G's for a vehicle, and usually under 3...use for 100-150,000Km, next. I've never given two shits what my neighbour or other people drive...This annoys a lot of people...but guess whos problem that is? Smile
  • 1 0
 according to your Profile you rather spend Money on knives :-)
  • 3 0
 For the Zombie Apocalypse...everyone knows they prefer the taste of the Leisure Class at the upper end, but just incase they hit when I'm building MTB trail...I be ready with weapons!
  • 12 0
 I heard that listening to Iron Maiden was all you need to be a teenage dirtbag, now I know the secrets to being a 20+ dirtbag!

I couldn't agree more with the first two, it's not all about the money money money, I hear that just gives mo' problems anyway.
  • 13 1
 Yeah you just have to be a Trooper to be a 20+ dirtbag and can't have a Fear of the Dark when it comes to exploring a new lifestyle. Many will Run to the Hills after hearing what it may be like, but taking the Dance of Death around something you love may be worth it in this Strange World. So live as if Heaven Can Wait and embrace your Pashendale for biking because you don't want to be living in Wasted Years, forget being The Prisoner to society and have a blast Running Free!

--teenage dirtbag
  • 12 0
 I have gone from being a dirtbag being married and respectable, to divorced and, well, slightly less of a dirtbag than before. I make decent money and I'm well respected in my local business community. I'm self-employed as a financial advisor. I do absolutely love the work that I do, and it gives me which gives me a TON of flexibility in my schedule, as well as enough money to do what I want. I've found that, rather than trying to fit into a mold, my clients like me better when I'm myself - pursuing the things I'm passionate about in my free time (which is greater than my work time).

On days that I don't have face-to-face appointments wtih clients, I work from my home office in a 45-15 pattern. 45 minutes of diligent work followed by 15 minutes of down time. Lately I've spent those 15 minutes working on bikes out in my barn, or maybe hitting the little jumps I built in my yard. At lunch I ride the 1.5 miles to my local trails, ride a 3-mile loop, and back, with time to spare. On the weekends I travel to ride my mountain bikes or race BMX, and camp out, so I can do it on the cheap.

All of my co-workers are diving BMWs, Infinitys, etc. I have a 2004 Saab with 167,000 miles on it. Yesterday I looked at 2 used trucks and a minivan because the Saab gets a bit overloaded with my bike sht on the weekends. Yes, I could make a lot more money by working harder, but who cares about that? I'd rather have fun while I'm young-ish and healthy. It's an awesome freaking life. America, get your priorities straight and figure out how to work less!
  • 4 0
 I work in the Chicago area installing natural gas lines among other underground utilities. We get paid well, great benefits, and a generous pension but we don't get paid vacation. Because of some weird machismo that has crept into our business nobody will request time off unless it's the dead of winter. If they do need time off in the summer they act like or feel like it will affect their future employment and for some guys it does. I have no qualms taking time. You only live once and if your a mtb'er you want time off in the spring and summer especially. To hell with others perceptions about my commitment.

On another note, I was in Moab this spring and was surprised to see so many cars from CO or UT that cost less than the bikes that were on top of them. It really got me thinking. It's just not something you see often in the Midwest: a $6k bike on a 12 yr old Subaru. I spend at least 2-3 hrs a day (total) traveling to my various work sites so a properly functioning car has to be a priority. There was a point made above about living near awesome trails and I have spent countless hours searching for that ideal locale, that perfect mix between gainful employment and killer trails. Im heading to Marquette MI next week for 5 days and boy did I get some looks when I requested the time off last week. The foreman said I might not have a position on his crew when I return and hopefully I wont need to. It's time to address quality of life vs quantity.
  • 11 1
 “At either end of the social spectrum lies a leisure class.”
Yes, the 1960's was before the massive rise of the middle class. These days a lot of people manage to ride a good amount without being at one or other end of the spectrum. personally speaking some of my best rides have come after a hard days work, and some of my most productive /rewarding days at work have come after a great ride. Choose your balance & enjoy.
  • 3 0
 word! exactly, find your Balance
and don't give a sh*t about what other People think
  • 7 0
 Just got an old rv. Step one of the master plan complete. Next I gotta convince the wife we and the 4 kids will be fine living in it for one summer in a riding town. Then finish my teaching certificate, become a teacher, and dirtbag it for the summer for the rest of the next 20 years. Then we move to stage 32b, where we sell the family home and spend the years driving back and forth between Bariloche and BC, working for pocket change at bike shops (I am a shop manager now, and hope to go to bike repair school to sharpen the skills so I can work at any shop anywhere.)
Step 86.3: die of a failed brain at the age of 86 while shredding a crazy line and have the POV video make VOD and have it shown at the celebration of my life while my 7 widows weep for joy at having known me.
  • 7 0
 Great post. There's a million ways to live your life, that's what makes it awesome. The key is to be honest with yourself about the choices you make and the commitments those require. I lived as a dirtbag in my early 20s and had a great time. But I knew I wanted a bigger nest egg, so I spent the last 11 years pursuing a professional career. 5 weeks ago I quit my job and my wife's last day is tomorrow. We're going to spend a year on the road mountain biking, pack rafting and fishing out of our sprinter van before settling down in a smaller town. I'm pretty happy with the choices we've made, but I also wouldn't judge anyone else's. I've met equally great people who are dirtbags for life and career professionals. I've also met equally rotten ones. Your life choices don't have to define your character.
  • 6 0
 Easy to live dirtbag life being in Canada or US. Trying that in Russia would lead to a jail house. I will need more than 50k $ to settle in BC for two years, no guarantee they wouldn't throw me away afterwards. Still going to try that in 2016
  • 1 0
 For sure. All kinds of stressed out @ssholes here, just like everywhere, but in the end, we do have it pretty good!
  • 6 0
 Being a Paramedic works really well for the career plus riding style. Work 2 24 hours shifts a week, bike 5 days!!! Bike parks are always happy to hire you to help out to get some free passes as well. During winter switch bike to skiing.
  • 3 0
 or be a fire fighter, 4 on 4 off, better work, and sleep all night at work. Tons of holidays. I don't know why more people don't do this. Its the perfect job to make a decent wage, feel proud about, and then completely be left to do what you want for half the yearSmile
  • 4 0
 I'm glad other people think like me....I just quit my job, and although I totally missed the past 2 weeks of perfect riding weather because I was painting my house top to bottom, I can now sell it, move to NZ, buy a motorhome, be a full time bike dirtbag. Thankfully the missus is a nurse so they'll let me in! People say we're crazy....I hope I can find a decent part time job. Look out NZ, there's a new dirtbag in town!!!
  • 8 0
 OK I've warned everyone.
  • 1 0
 move to welly although not famous trails not bad and atmoshere well we have lots
  • 1 0
 Sounds awesome! I'm jealous.
  • 1 0
 I'm also in Wellington, it's pretty amazing how many trails there are so close to the city.
  • 4 0
 hmmm...

Predictable refs to the use of food stamps and welfare to support the "dirtbag" lifestyle in comments. No mention of public $ to support the inevitable health care needs.

I submit that minimizing debt and consumption while getting outside and remaining fit are excellent goals. However, living only to recreate is hollow and selfish and requires others to carry you.
  • 3 0
 I see where you are going. But the public health care costs of active mountain bikers is minuscule when compared to the public health care costs of many many other activities (overeating, smoking, etc).
  • 3 0
 I used to be an obvious dirtbag. Now help manage a bike shop. Still car free. Twins. Living in Cycling paradise. Trails, CX, Road, Pump Track... at least one of those every day. Don't even look or feel like a dirtbag. I feel like I'm winning.
  • 3 0
 True "dirt bagging" might very well work for an extremely small number of people, but I suspect that the vast majority (me included) have found that the balance must exist....... Ya, I'm a suburban work-bag because I have to in order to be a dirt-bag and I'm totally cool with that.
  • 4 0
 I'm only half a dirt bag these days which ain't bad for a 34 yr. old "man". I've been sitting in the office for the last hour looking at spreadsheets(pinkbike) but that's ok because I'll be out of here and riding by 230.
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike needs to make a 'boss button' in the upper left corner so it clicks the screen over real quick to a simulated spreadsheet.
  • 3 0
 Night shift. I technically have every "day" off. I like dirtbag as a term of endearment. I'm just as pinned during my work hours as I am on the trail; prioritizing a life spent outside doesn't mean one should compromise in any other aspect of their life. I think this is a lifestyle of changing hats at the right time and having the social awareness to know when that is. Be a family person, a worker, a lover, a good friend... when it's time for that. But be sure to find ways to get outside the rest of the time.
  • 3 0
 The dirtbag life is fun when you're young, but the best way to do it IMO is to find a balance between work and fun, because when a dirtbag becomes too old to ride, what does he/she have left? You need to prepare for the future young grasshopper.
  • 5 0
 This was on Movies for Your Monday a few years ago. I watch it every now and then to remind myself what is really important. youtu.be/xWtQ8IJoKn0
  • 1 0
 Dude thanks for posting that vid it made my day! Loved this article and reading the comments it seems many disagree. Live on dirtbag brothers! We are the few.

"Im aspiring to make it through my whole life without ever having to work" - Alex Honnold
  • 3 0
 This is one of the best articles I've read on Pinkbike.
Opinionated user generated synopsis of how we all wanna live. Bike more, work less.
Its not always about how the best-of-the-best-of-the-best ride. Its just about the ride.
Myself, I am moving to a beach town and gonna bike everywhere.
Im even letting my friend borrow my car for at least six months until he can afford one for himself.
OK Im gonna live where they have triathlon races, and pro cyclists train for the Tour.
There is just enough rise in the hills behind my town to keep things interesting (4,000 ft)
My bikes arent new by any means, but neither am I.
I strive to be a dirtbag.
  • 3 0
 How interesting. I'd always thought the quote was from Veblen. But here is proof that Kazis is correct - www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=187908&tn=20 . Learned something new
  • 1 0
 Neat...Thx for the link Lee
  • 6 0
 My dream is the motor home lifestyle
  • 6 0
 PBR is a legitimate currency!!
  • 2 0
 These are some of the best discussion points (in the comments) iv read on pinkbike!
We all fall somewhere into the spectrum of this life, its good to know that there is a lot of respect from both ends... then there are just soul-less a*sholes out there... but you know what, if your happy and satisfied with what your doing.. f*ck them!
  • 2 0
 Dirtbag after college from 21-27, then started business and was basically an entrepreneur dirt bag for several more years.

Live like no one will live for a few years... so you can live like very few can afford to live for the rest of your years.

Own your own business (except for a LBS, or most retail) - you will have more control of your free time, your income, and your destiny.

I have really enjoyed both, and am grateful have had the chance to do each at the appropriate season of life.

My boss (me) lets me keep my bike in my office, and go riding whenever I want to. Smile
  • 1 0
 If you don't mind me asking, what type of business did you start?
  • 2 0
 So what would happen if EVERYONE choose the Dirtbag lifestyle and lived it till the end of their years? Would your bikes/skis/boards ride as well? Would the lights still come on in the house you share with 7 other dudes? Would you be getting that shoulder surgery that you need after blowing it up on that tree?

We should all be happy that we have these choices to make and throwing stones at people making different ones just shows immaturity. I lived as a Dirtbag in my 20's, then decided I wanted something different and put myself through college. Now I am an executive in the tech industry, but lead a closet Dirtbag esque life. I still ride 3-4 times per week because I have an awesome wife that appreciates the work I put in and she supports my passion. I could live as a pauper and retire in 3-5 years, but I love what I do and wouldn't know what to do with myself if I did retire.

Just remember that all the taxes us non Dirtbags pay keep your open spaces, open, your ER's available, and the engineers graduating to make more cool toys.
  • 1 0
 This was an interesting read. I do think that based on my dirtbag climbing experience, that being a bike bum would be more challenging. Climbing tends to be a lower cost sport and lends itself naturaly to camping. I may not be a very good rider, but I find that I need to shell out way more often on my mtn bikes. You just plain wear things out way faster.
Let me end my rambling by saying more power to those mtn biking dirtbags who make it work. Dirty clothes, dirty car, giant smiles! What more can you ask for?
  • 4 3
 many ways to live the dirtbag life w/out the poverty. 1) become a teacher-3 months off every year. 2) work in the movie biz-lots of work and over time during a show/gig, when it's over, everyone get's laid off. collect some dole checks, ride every day for a month, wait for the phone to ring. 3) put off being a dirtbag till you're older, make some dough, get the house and car paid off, work from home. don't have kids. kids are really f*cking expensive. plus they're annoying.
  • 1 0
 I remember when I was younger around 16, that I wouldn't need my drivers license and that I was just going to bmx... not sure how it made sense. Though, now at almost thirty I have tryed to give up driving to work and I am a solid commuter, use a cross bike though.
  • 1 0
 I left the dirtbag life a couple of years ago now, somethings I miss everyday and hate that I left it behind, other things not so much. Not having to worry about what I can afford to buy at a supermarket is great, having to sit in an office to be like that is not...If someone would like to pay me my current wage to be a dirtbag, that'd be great, thanks in advance...
  • 2 1
 The 4 year + college/university def isn't for everyone. Depending on the major, tech schools is where its at. Usa has gotten away from this over past few decades and we as a nation are paying dearly for it. Meanwhile, the tenured leftist that run the failed education system get rich and cannot be fired, and promote areas of study/debt that do not equate to jobs.
Live the dirtbag life while knocking out your A.A/tech certs...ez peasy
  • 1 0
 degree in underwater basket weaving minor in socio economic studies. win! career at McDonalds, in the bag...
  • 1 0
 Its not a job in a bike shop, but it has definitely given me more time for biking and bike maintenance. I was offered a job several months ago (which I accepted) where I work Monday - Thursday, 7am-3:30pm.. every third weekend I have to work an hour or so Friday, Saturday and Sunday.. its fantastic!
  • 2 1
 pure escapism. then you wake up and wonder what it was you did with your life while everyone was getting their act together and playing grown ups. just like the Goa massive, or whatever else da yoots are into these days. yeah drugs. tripping. dirtbag life. whatever. just adolescent escapism
  • 1 0
 More and more difficult to sustain when you chose to have kids, and make sure you can enjoy till your late 80s/90s/100s.... Smile Difficult in this case to be a Dirtbag only; yes for sure you have good times and a lot of ride shreds, but who will take care of you once you turn 60 and make sure you can "die decently"?... That"s a fair debate.
But the balance between "Dirtbag" and "Life" can be reached : I ride 2-3 hours a day (during lunch breaks/commuting to work/once kids are sleeping), managing a challenging (but flexible) job, the family, house, etc. My days are then pretty full, but it"s finally a good balance Smile and I'm pretty fine with this.
I guess then it"s just a question of point of view and life philosophy.
  • 1 0
 Be a nurse. I work 3 days a weeks, plus, you can take bike trips without having to use vacation time. I was a travel nurse and lived in places like LA and Santa Cruz just to name a few. Getting an actual living wage to buy bike stuff is nice too!
  • 1 0
 Is there really any true way to attain all you desire ? there are factors effecting everybody.... personally time was always the main issue, and not the fact that i did not have any, but more the fact that every second spent doing something i did not like or enjoy was a second i could never recover, no matter how much money i had made... You make sacrifices, maybe major, maybe minor, but they will be sacrifices in time, some will be to achieve lifedreams (family, relationships etc), others for financial benefits, offsetting the expenditure of your allotted time, to seem almost a trade for your most precious commodity... Time allows for new experiences, reliving enjoyable experiences, remembering past experiences... Money is useful, but it does not buy time, unless you have a wealthy benefactor, make enough to survive in the life you choose, and use your time wisely, or at least in the way you choose... I consider myself very lucky, have lived in the mountains for nearly 10 years, i work crazy hours in the winter within the ski industry, and 8 months either side of the winter season i bike, most days, we have a small bike business that allows us to follow our dream.. today, 863m of mountain ascending XC over 23km, tomorrow could be AM or DH ? or maybe just pottering in my workshop on our bikes, my partner is similar in her desires, as is my 6 year old daughter (bikemad)... Decisions i made through my life have enabled me to be here, i traded time, we are not wealthy, but we also have no debt, we make enough to survive, we have time now to enjoy our lives...........
  • 1 0
 I didn't realize the dirtbag lifestyle was for me until last year. I quit my IT job of 9yrs and moved to Denver. Spent the winter boarding and riding. Now I bought a badass van to live in and I'm traveling around biking wherever I want whenever I want. Is this life for everyone? Certainly not, but it works for me because I have no debt, no kids, and no wife.
I admire those of you that save and plan for the future, but I can't base my life and experiences on something that isn't guaranteed. I live in the now. If I'm broke and have nothing at 70 I'll still have a lifetime of experiences that can never be taken away. Retirement holds nothing for me. At 65 will you or I be able to ride DH? No, but now at 32 I can and will. My only set expenses can be covered working part time at any $10hr job for 2 months a year. To me that is freedom. I'm not tied to money or material things.

I'm not going to criticize anyone for the life they choose to live, we each need to find what's best for us. I do highly recommend if you have the means and aren't afraid to take risks, take a year off of working. It will truly help you find out what you need and want out of life.
  • 1 0
 Haha I've done that a couple of years ago in France. Living on welfare without power, rent or water to pay. I enjoyed every day of that year. And I had a mean bike thanks to online bike shop and 2nd hand parts haha.
  • 2 1
 Dirtbag, along with blindside and bottlerocket are one of the best model names ever given a mountainbike. As for the rest of it, may all our inner dirtbag stay intact throughout.
  • 1 1
 the problem is society has grown to only accept kids that get 4.0s and work for the rest of their lives like everyone else strives to do, all to what? realize you are retired with all of this money that are now too old to justify.

be the salmon. flow in the opposite direction.
  • 2 1
 Dirtbag lifestyle takes serious commitment. The older you get the harder it gets. I admire the ones who can pull it off life-long. That's some serious sacrifice on so many levels.
  • 1 0
 I make a concerted effort to have no debts or a big bank account. I ride , hike and do photography as much as i can. Im a quasi dirt bag with my own company. Best of both worlds.
  • 4 1
 YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! my life dream has been realized.
  • 1 0
 i always wondered what tent meant by calling everyone dirtbag. I guess its a compliment.
  • 4 1
 Amen. The true how to be a mountain biker!
  • 2 0
 Shred every day=fountain of youth. You can't polish a turd but you can shine bright like a Dirtbag!
  • 1 0
 Another excellent OP-ED piece, really great advice, well-written.I needed a reminder about reducing my debt so I can work less, retire early & ride more - thanks Mike!
  • 1 0
 This kind of article does not exist in France. It is impossible so we conservatuer and tidy. Then congratulations to PB and Mike KAZIMER
  • 1 0
 at every age of your life.....find your happiness and let yourself be happy. Good luck we are owed nothing in life except a life.
  • 1 0
 @oogens where are you? This is your dream, mobile home with a pump track next to sweet trails.
  • 1 0
 Very timely article...I want to do three days of riding this weekend far away from home but def not spooning for a hotel
  • 1 0
 2 documentaries about dirt bags and the love of their sport. -Valley uprising -Riding giants
  • 2 0
 Drop out of life with bars in hand.
  • 1 0
 PROCEED TO THE RIFF FILLED LAND
  • 2 1
 its a great lifestyle, anybody wanna buy me a new frame im broke?!
  • 2 1
 Awesome bit of journalism here, PB.
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