2016 is just behind us, which means that it's time for some of that "new year, new me" bullshit that everyone talks about. You know, going to the gym, more green stuff (Mountain Dew doesn't count) and less bacon, and generally trying to improve as a human being. But let's be honest here: most of us are probably going to continue being the same people we were over the last twelve months, ten-visit gym punch card that you only used three times notwithstanding.
The last year out in the real world wasn't terrible overall, despite all the media fear-mongering that's pumped into us. Yes, some actors and actresses died, a gorilla was shot, and a megalomaniac managed to convince people that he'd be a good leader of the United States, but I feel like it's been a pretty decent year as a whole. You (probably) didn't get drafted and forced to fight in a war on another continent, you (probably) also didn't die from the Spanish Flu or the Black Plague, and I bet that you didn't even need to worry about having enough potatoes to survive another frozen winter. Hell, it was also yet another year that we weren't all wiped out by an asteroid or super volcano. 2016 was pretty good in the grand scheme of things, but my bad if I just jinxed us for super volcanoes in the near future.
In the mountain bike world, however, there were some trying times. We lost some legends long before they were supposed to go, and many tears were shed over them. Probably still are being shed, too. There were many beers drunk and skids laid down for the same reason, though, and I think that it made a lot of us realize how small and tight our little community actually is.
Now that the year is over, it's a chance for us to wipe our slates clean and start from scratch. Supposedly. I'm not a big fan of New Year resolutions. Hello, I know that I can try to be a better person and then fail miserably at it on any day of the year. But, in the spirit of this "new year, new me" thing, I've come up with a handful of mountain bike-related resolutions that I might try and put into action over the next twelve months. Hey, you never know, right?More Road Trips
I'm extremely lucky to be able to say that I've ridden bikes in amazing locations all over the world, but I also know that all those trips made me realize just how freaking amazing it is in the Pacific Northwest. Over the last few years, I've found myself actively avoiding riding anywhere too far away from home, simply because I feel that I know what I like at this point, and what I like most is located about twenty minutes from my house. Yeah, I do have a smug look on my face right now, sorry. But that's a shitty attitude to have, I know; I do have a great time riding new trails with new friends in new places. Trailforks
is a game-changer for me when it comes to road trips. Last year, during a rushed 1,000 km summer road trip, we randomly decided that we needed a break from driving and pulled over in a small town in southern British Columbia. Using Trailforks, we had a sweet little ride mapped out in mere minutes, and it ended up being one of the better ones of the year.
So, in 2017 the plan is this: two weeks on the road in the van, but completely avoiding well-known riding destinations or places I've been to before. The riding will only be in small towns that I've driven through before but never stopped in, besides to get diesel, pepperoni, and Mountain Dew for the drive. Now I know that I can easily find the gold up in those hills.Be a Grumpier Bike Reviewer
A few days ago, while working on an upcoming 'Ridden and Rated' comparison piece, I spent some time re-reading all of the trail bike reviews that we put together in 2016. If you've ever gone back and read something that you wrote even just months prior, you'll know that it can sometimes be an eye-opening experience, and it's fair to say that was the case for me. What I discovered by reading so many bike reviews back-to-back for hours on end is that we really need to grumble, grouse, and gripe more than we have been. Way more.
Here's the thing: today's bikes are really f*cking good. You may or may not realize this fact depending on how long you've been around, but they really are amazing. They're all stiff, they all pedal pretty well, and their suspension is often near-faultless. It kinda makes me wish that I was reviewing full-suspension machines in the mid-1990s.
It doesn't matter how good the bikes are, though, because they could always be better. And you'll hear more about how they could be better in 2017, along with far more direct comparisons to relevant competitors. They can't all be so damn great, can they? Nah.Introduce Someone to Mountain Biking
You're probably shaking your head right now if you know me, but I'm being serious here. I've written a lot of words in the past that cover my feelings about how our sport seems to be trying so damn hard to attract and coddle new riders
, so I'd probably have to pick my victim, er, newbie, carefully and make sure they're a good sport because I'm generally not the coddling type. But, assery aside, the idea of introducing someone to mountain biking and it being a life-changing type of thing for them, much like it was for myself and probably many of you, is pretty damn cool in a selfish way. Actually, let's call it a win/win for both of us.
I got lucky. When I was a kid I had no clue that people rode bicycles in the forest, and I distinctly remember how my first exposure to the sport was the cover of an old Mountain Bike Action magazine at the corner store. Some time on the internet (dial-up, because it was a new thing) led me to a chat room for mountain bikers where a rider from my very own town, one of probably only six of seventy thousand inhabitants, introduced himself and offered to take me out to the bush. I was maybe fourteen. Just imagine that now: "Mom, I'm going to ride bikes in the forest with this older guy that I met on the internet!
" There were barely any trails back then, and we had to suffer like dogs while climbing up the steepest fire road in the world, but everything changed that day.
Now, thanks to some amazing trail builders, a newbie's first ride can start by climbing up a meandering, low-grade singletrack before descending back down on a flow trail, which sounds a whole lot better than grinding up a gravel road with a 40% grade and then being scared stiff while skidding down fall-line singletrack and over wobbly bridges made from treated pieces of 1x1 and old pallets.
Also, the newbie I take out will end up really appreciating those easy climbing and flow trails after their first ride which will definitely be up that steep, shitty gravel road and then down all the sketchy stuff.
Now that you've heard all about my plans for this coming year, let's hear about your own ''new year, new me" intentions. Do you have any bike-related resolutions for 2017?