In the grand scheme of things, mountain biking is still a relatively new sport. It depends on which origin story you subscribe to, but it's generally accepted that modern mountain biking is somewhere around 40 years old. That means there are still plenty of riders out there who were around for its humble beginnings in Marin County and Crested Butte, Colorado – the same can't be said for other action sports like the skiing or surfing, which have much longer histories.
I started mountain biking back in 1995, as an awkward 7th grader loooking for a way to explore the overgrown access roads underneath the powerlines near my house. It didn't take long to figure out that riding on singletrack was infinitely better than those steep, loose dirt roads, and soon I'd developed a full blown addiction, one that still hasn't subsided, even now, 23 years later.
The question of “How long have you been riding?” is a common one, and I'm sure many riders (myself included) are guilty of using it as a way to pre-judge a potential riding buddy, despite the fact that here's no direct correllation between how long someone's been riding and how skilled they are on a bike. Need proof? All it takes is a visit to a bike park to be instantly humbled by the number of fearless pre-teen rippers.
That being said, there's a certain amount of pride that comes with sticking with a sport for so many years. For those first couple of seasons you're still a wide-eyed newcomer trying to figure out the basics, and then before you know it five years have ticked by, then ten, then twenty, and all of a sudden you find yourself telling stories about how bikes were so much different back in the day.
As the 2018 riding season gets underway, it's as good a time as any to do some tallying to figure out how many years of riding you have under your belt. So, how about it – how many years have you been mountain biking for? By mountain biking I mean actual off-road riding, not just riding around your driveway and neighborhood as a little grom.