Every now and then someone comes along who redefines what is possible on a mountain bike. They ride a bike like it’s an extension of their legs. In fact they can do on a bike what us mere mortals couldn’t even do on our feet!
The big question though is why? Why push the boundaries?
George Mallory, an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest is famously quoted as having replied to the question “Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” with the retort “Because it’s there“.
Well, mountain bikers have the same drive and passion as those climbers who pioneered the slopes of Everest, except they want to push the limits of what is physically possible on a bike.
Kenny Belaey’s Balance has to be the most recent epic stunt on a bike; riding a slackline over a 112m drop in the French Alps at an altitude of 2700m
Here are my other top choices of mountain bike pioneers:
Lastly, my top pick, and if you watch one video, this should be it: Dangerous Dan’s flying circus (redux). Back in the 1990s Dan was building wood structures 20/30ft high to ride across, he paved the way for Kenny Belaey and his recent stunt. The council would often destroy his trails, but he’d build more, compelled by the drive to conquer narrower and higher structures. You can also read more about him here.
I recently bought some new Shimano brakes to replace my entry level Avid brakes.
I say recently, they’ve been sitting on my shelf for about four weeks, un-opened.
Why the inertia? The cables, they are too long and the prospect of bleeding my brakes makes my chest tight with anxiety. The alternative, ride around with long brake cables wrapped precariously around my handlebars.
Tonight I finally took the plunge. After a good hour of searching around, this was the best solution, and it worked, perfectly…
What is your motivation for getting out on the bike?
I ride because of the enjoyment of the challenge, the adrenaline rush, the fitness but above all because of the freedom and the ability to escape from it all.
What ever your motivation, when it comes to donning your gear and getting into the saddle, there always seems to be a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t go for a ride: your tired, you don’t have time, it’s raining etc…
At the end of the day though I always come back to one thing: It doesn’t matter how long you go out for, how rubbish the weather is, if you don’t perform well, whatever. When you get our there you’ll forget about it all and enjoy the moment. All those things you love about mountain biking will come flooding back to you.
So, next time you ask yourself should I, shouldn’t I go for a ride: just ride goddammit!
It wasn’t that long ago that mountain bikes were just road bikes with fatter tyres. MTBs have slowly been evolving over the last twenty years, but in the last five years mountain bike technology has gone mad.
With 27.5/29 wheels, through axles, dropper posts, better suited geometry, boost wheels, fat bikes, mountain bikes are a complete bread of their own.
But what is left to do? With that in mind, what will be the major improvements to mountain bikes in the next five years?
Electronic shifting: It’s already on some of the more expensive bikes, with Shimano’s XTR paving the way. We can definitely expect a trickle down effect to the mid range bikes soon.
Improved Suspension dampening: There was a time when bigger was better. Now with improved dampening and better geometry, bikes with shorter travel can manage the big hits. Will we see capable enduro bikes with shorter 140mm travel?
Wireless equipment: This year Magura are releasing their Vyron wireless dropper post. The first reports are that it is awesome. No wires to mess around with and ruin your lovely bike frame. I’m all for it and I imagine that a whole raft of wireless equipment will be on peoples bikes in the next few years
Carbon, carbon, carbon: Carbon is the new aluminium. Yes, many people already ride carbon bikes, but in the next few years the price will come down for us mere mortals and everyone will be able to enjoy its beauty (and weight). Some bike brands already only offer carbon. Brands such as Light bicycle are already paving the way for cheaper carbon products.
Electronic/motorised ready frames: Just this month a cycle-cross rider was found to have a motor concealed in her bike, in what is now known as ‘motorised doping’. Some manufacturers are already making small compartments for the batteries on their frames (for the advent of electronic gears). Will we see mountain bikes with secret compartments for motors and other electronic gear?
I watched the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships last night, held in Andorra on the 7th September 2015.
Well done Loic Bruni and Rachel Atherton who were both crowned world champions!
I’m always inspired by the MTB greats thrashing it out on a wild, step and technical trail.
What struck me though, reflecting on my own mountain biking is the ‘crash or win’ mentality of these guys. As I am nursing my injuries from a nasty prang I sustained last week, i’ve reaslied that it’s OK to crash.
Whilst hitting it hard, at night, down one of my local trails, Transient, in Aro Valley, Wellington, I hit the base of a tree with my shin, my leg now looks like a rainbow.
For anyone who is getting in to mountain biking, or anyone who wants to improve, crashing is all part of the learning process.
For the top riders, if they don’t go hard they don’t win, and if they crash, well, they accept it as part of the road to greatness.