Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What I learned from Riding a Mountain Bike for a month

 

This was my only bike for a month

Do we need a bike for every discipline? How necessary are gravel bikes, road bikes and all of the other sub categories that are sold as "essential" items? Can there really be one bike to rule them all?


Some bikes are designed for speed, others for dirt trail endurance and still others for recklessness. The best bike you can ride is the one you own. Whatever discipline you choose, you will find the limits of your abilities and that of your bike real quickly. Some might trade and "upgrade" to something that might be a better fit for them, at least in their own mind. But what if that isn't an option anymore? What if there is a global bike shortage due to the supply chain being massively impacted by a pandemic? We don't have to imagine that scenario anymore because we are living and breathing it. The industry seems to be sputtering back into life but is still unable to meet the massive new demand it has acquired. If getting a new bike isn't an option for you, you might be able to take comfort in my experience of riding my mountain bike everywhere, for a month.


Before getting into my story I understand that while you can ride a mountain bike on the road, you can't ride a road bike in the mountains (at least most people can't without breaking it). So while I was stuck with a mountain bike, your experience might be that you are stuck with a road bike, a cruiser, a tandem or a unicycle, which might greatly limit where you can ride your bicycle in the event an upgrade was not possible. With that out of the way, let's continue the story, because there is a point to be made about mountain bikes in the end.


Last year a lot of the best things happened under the worst circumstances. We welcomed another child into the world, yes a COVID baby. We also bought a house. We couldn't stay where we were living at before moving into our new house, so we were nomads for a month. I got to take full advantage of my campervan which I had spent years getting ready for a big journey I knew I would surely take one day. Out of all my bikes that I had, I could only choose one to take with me while the rest waited for me in storage. I knew that where I was going there would be hills, nature and some singletrack. I knew that I wouldn't be able to escape to the mountain bike trails every day because we would be on a working vacation, using whatever Wi-fi was available in our Airbnb and our hotel. It wouldn't be realistic to think that I would be mountain biking every single day, but I wanted to be prepared just in case I did. I ended up taking my hardtail 29er which I hadn't really ridden much since I already had other bikes that I rode more. I spent most of my time riding roads, and only once did I make it out to the trails. 











((As readers can tell from the photos, I did other cool stuff besides riding bikes))

I learned something valuable from this experience. It really important to be content in life if you are blessed with the necessary things. It's foolish to follow every trend and be a sucker for every marketing hype that is put before you. The illusion of speed is just that, an illusion. There will always be someone who is faster, no matter what bike you are on. A bike that can handle the asphalt and the dirt really is the only bike you need. A dedicated bike for a specific riding surface or type of riding should be looked at as an added bonus but not as a necessity. Before the pandemic we had an idea of what needs and wants were. During this time some of us have gained a better understanding of what needs and wants actually are. If I was stuck with only my mountain bike, even though the majority of my riding is done on the road, it would be difficult to deal with at first, but then it becomes second nature, as we humans are good at adapting to new challenges and circumstances. My average speed would go down by about 3mph, but then again I could get on dirt paths or even ride where there were no paths at all. By their very nature, mountain bikes are less fragile and more durable than other types of bikes. They can be ridden on a bike lane in Berlin or in the African savannah. If you are stuck with only one bike you can own, buy a mountain bike or keep the mountain bike you already have. 

Today I took out my 29er hardtail again for another road ride. The mountain bike trails in my area are closed due to 2 weeks of constant rain. Wanting to scratch my itch for mountain biking I went on a 41 mile ride through mostly country roads exploring my new area. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on what I went through last year and count my blessings. Compared to some who have had to deal with the COVID virus firsthand, I really didn't have to deal with any challenges of that magnitude. My life turned the page while some closed their books entirely as they fell victims to this horrible virus. It is important to look at things with the right context, because COVID took the lives and livelihoods of many people around the world. My point is that contentment brings happiness. If you are not happy with your current bike, current job or current circumstances, break things down into their simpler form. You have a bike, you have a job and you have the ability to control your perspective on life, which can then allow you to see how to change your circumstances. Contentment is not the same as complacency, which some people seem to get confused. Unlike complacency, contentment is important for your emotional health. Stay happy, and stay blessed friends.


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