IT’S OK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING TO BE HARD
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.