Australian Mountain Bike - - X Factor - WORDS: ANNA BECK PHOTO: ROBERT CONROY

Why do you ride? It’s one thing as a cy­cling coach, moun­tain biker, and all­round navel gazer that I ask peo­ple, and my­self, with great reg­u­lar­ity. There are a myr­iad of rea­sons why peo­ple cy­cle, some more com­plex than oth­ers, but a com­mon theme when prompted is the en­dur­ing love of the out­doors and na­ture. Re­gard­less of whether the other rea­sons are com­pe­ti­tion, health (phys­i­cal and men­tal), iden­tity, mas­tery; if you don’t love bang­ing around in the bush it’s un­likely you would have found moun­tain bik­ing as a pas­sion within your life. But why do we, as hu­mans and moun­tain bik­ers, find our­selves turn­ing to na­ture? floors; we have no way of con­trol­ling the weather and, to an ex­tent, the very foun­da­tion of the land we ex­ist on. In an in­creas­ingly sec­u­lar so­ci­ety, we have col­lec­tively de­vel­oped quite an in­su­lar, lib­er­al­ist mind­set, whereby we fail to grasp the broader scope of the world. It’s easy to fo­cus on what’s right in front of you; the mi­cro­cosm of self and those tightly knit­ted around you. Get­ting out and close to na­ture al­lows us to marvel at wise-old trees that have sur­vived mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions, get bathed in an un­planned rain storm and nearly blown off our bikes at the top of a windy peak. Out­side, in essence, re­minds us how small we are and gives us a sense of con­tent­ment that there is some­thing big­ger than us at play. Touch­ing the bark of a tree, run­ning our hands through soil (or even our body…should we find the limit in our ad­ven­tures!), the sound of a whip bird and smell of the bush in the rain. These are all ex­pe­ri­ences that we are un­able to at­tain in the in­door en­vi­ron­ment and act to ground us in im­me­di­ate ‘real’ness. Some of the best rides are one that en­dure past the shred­ding, your crew sits around on the rocky dirt un­til it’s dark hav­ing beers in the for­est, or jumps into a nearby wa­ter­hole to cool down. It’s the ex­ten­sion of our in­door selves into the vis­ceral re­al­ness of the bush or for­est that can be so dif­fer­ent from the rest of our lives.


As men­tioned, we spend much of our lives con­nected to tech­nol­ogy. If you’re read­ing this it’s likely you have al­ready found the golden ticket and have a love for the out­doors. While it’s easy to con­tinue to live in the city, hit­ting tar­gets and dead­lines and crunch­ing num­bers; what­ever your job may en­tail it’s a sense of ‘re­ally liv­ing’ that be­ing out­side on two wheels gives us. If you want to crunch num­bers on the week­end and the week­day, buy your­self a road bike and a power me­ter or go crunch me miles on a tread­mill in­side a gym; yuck! We buy into the pred­i­ca­bil­ity of the ev­ery­day, but na­ture is a force unto it’s own and is often ran­dom and un­pre­dictable. Out­side scales back this im­por­tance of the minu­tiae of ev­ery­day and of­fers new per­spec­tives…a break in na­ture can al­low the mind to wan­der and time for cre­ative, in­de­pen­dent thought to bloom! So why do you love to ride? What is it about be­ing out­side keeps you go­ing back to the trails again and again?

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