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. • 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.
...but overall, still a dirt bag at heart.
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
...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.
Are you married, with kids?
If not you've got a lot to learn.
No, that would be @procex
Pinkbike gives you a notification when people mention your username in a post. Isn't technology neat?
*puts on flak-jacket*
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.
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.
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.
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
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 !
Man,between the diarrhea ,heart palpatations and rebound headache,..ill just go to work.
I have witnessed the above many times living in Whistler.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
and don't give a sh*t about what other People think
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.
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.
"Im aspiring to make it through my whole life without ever having to work" - Alex Honnold
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
Live the dirtbag life while knocking out your A.A/tech certs...ez peasy
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 and I'm pretty fine with this.
I guess then it"s just a question of point of view and life philosophy.
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.
be the salmon. flow in the opposite direction.