Australian Mountain Bike - - Editorial - WORDS: MIKE BLEWITT PHO­TOS: TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH

There’s no avoid­ing the fact that this is­sue of AMB is heavy on event cover­age. From Crankworx and The Pi­o­neer in New Zealand, through to the En­duro World Se­ries (EWS) in Tas­ma­nia and the re­cent Na­tional Marathon Cham­pi­onships in Townsville. None of th­ese events were as a sim­ple as an af­ter­noon shred on the trails for any of the par­tic­i­pants, and none of those at­tend­ing would have ex­pected that. They prob­a­bly wouldn’t have even en­joyed them if the rid­ing was easy. While at both The Pi­o­neer and the Na­tional Marathon Cham­pi­onships, I had sim­i­lar thoughts. They ran along the lines of “Why do I do this? This isn’t fun!” And it’s true – at that very moment I wasn’t hav­ing fun. I was in pain, tired, and strug­gling to fo­cus on what I was do­ing. But part of the en­joy­ment, and sat­is­fac­tion, is over­com­ing that. It is dig­ging deep to find the re­silience needed to forge on. The re­wards are hard fought, but they are worth­while. Given that the open­ing two rounds of the EWS have been played out in rain and mud for race day, I imag­ine many rac­ers were go­ing through sim­i­lar men­tal bat­tles. Ques­tion­ing why they were there, how they would per­form, and try­ing to think be­yond the dif­fi­culty of their race runs to the buzz of fin­ish­ing. But none of them would have thought about not en­ter­ing an en­duro race again. Moun­tain bik­ing isn’t meant to be easy. With shut­tles, lifted bike parks, pedal-as­sist bikes and more ef­fi­cient ma­chines all round you might think the dif­fi­culty lev­els are re­duc­ing. But if you just take a good look at what peo­ple are achiev­ing on their bikes around the world, you re­alise the ar­gu­ment has no grounds. Rid­ers in bike parks use that en­ergy saved to put ev­ery­thing into their runs, hit­ting high speeds, mak­ing big gaps on fea­tures, and of­ten look­ing at ways to ma­nip­u­late what has been built to do some­thing new. Sim­i­larly, 29” wheels in down­hill aren’t mak­ing it eas­ier, they’re mak­ing things faster. That means faster re­ac­tion times and thought pro­cesses are needed by those who choose to pi­lot a big wheeled rig down a course. And in any case, ad­vance­ments in technology still leave us in the same el­e­ments, and that’s one thing we can­not control. Be­ing out­side and find­ing new lim­its of what we can do on our bikes is part of the joy of moun­tain bik­ing, and I think it’s per­fectly OK for it to be hard. Let’s hope events keep pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity, rid­ers keep push­ing their bound­aries, and en­gi­neers don’t stop in­no­vat­ing.

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