Why I Fell Back in Love with Mountain Biking - Derek Wintermans
“Back in love?” you might ask. Yes, I fell out of love with mountain biking for a good seven or eight years. Quick history here, I started in 1998 as an SFU student with trails surrounding my campus. My first bike was a Brodie steel framed hard tail followed by a slew of early full suspension bikes. I loved the challenge, the speed and the forest but one thing remained consistent, crashes and broken bikes were the norm.
Mountain biking wasthe perfect cross training through that period of my life as well.I was an aspiring Olympic athlete with the Canadian National Snowboard Team racing snowboardcross. Butfinding money to buy high end bikes and/or fix everything I broke was tough. Then a relatively minor ankle sprain in the Whistler Bike Park kept me out of the gym for 2 months. So I started to fall out of love with mountain biking.
Fast forward to 2014, four years removed from competitive snowboardingand my wife and I bought our forever home at the base of Burnaby Mountain. I was now living next to the same trails I learned how to ride in the nineties. Thanks to Norco’s support of the National Snowboard Team I still had a 2009 Norco SIX One, the predecessor to your modern all mountain/enduro bike. Still having mechanical issues on most rides, my lovely wife bucked up and bought me a new bike for my birthday, a 2016 Norco Sight A7.1. Little did she know that the fires of biking passion had been ignited again (for her as well obviously, what an awesome birthday gift).
Over the last two years,I have thought at length as to why I love biking again and I’ve come up with these four. They are all a little different from my first relationship with biking and all have changedjust enough to woo me back:
- Because Bikes are better (duh!?!)Better materials and engineeringallow for better geometry, bigger wheels with better rims and lightersuspension. We’re not riding little wonky wheels that perpetually need trueing. We’re not riding endo-machines anymore, and trailside maintenance is a very rare occurrence. So much so that apparently most people don’t even ride with packs, just a few essentials(tube, C02 cartridge, and multitool)strapped to the bike are all that’s necessary for most rides.
- Because Trails are better.In the 90s it was all about gorilla trail building; secret, insanely hard trails built with a ton of love and effort but only for a good time, not a long time. Today, they’rebuilt better and built to last. They’re well maintained and navigation/signage is light-years better. It because of the new relationship between trail builders/organizations and municipalities/governments has made mountain biking more accessible and friendly for more people. Our provincial government recognizes that more people safely biking makes for a healthier population and boosts tourism. Now we’ve got wonderful groups like TORCA, BMBA and NSMBA building thoughtful trails with the support of local governments.
- Because Enduro over Freeriding.It’s easy to relate to the all mountain/enduro racing movement, it’s exactly what our rides look like. Ride the same bike to the top that you can then rip down. The riding to the top is fun now, with one bike to do it all being the goal. It’s cool to be fit and climb to Burke’s upper trails without dabbing. 90s freeriding meant shuttling or pushing your bike up, and then either braking your bike or body trying to emulate the FroRidershucking 10’ drops to flat.
- Because Dropper Posts = More Fun. A gimmicky seat post thing that seemed a little silly changed the face of the sport. The dropper post lets you ride comfortably and confidently without slowing down making for a better all-round experience on the trail.It’s less time caught descending with a raised seat or climbing with a lowered seat.
What hasn’t changed over the last 20 years is the support of the local bike shop. We’ve had a few come and go in the TriCities. Right now we’ve got Kinetik Cycles, and they’re bad ass. We also have world bike power Norco based in Pocothat develops their high-end products on our trails (see Pinkbike’s “How Norco makes a Bike” video). I just recently proudly bought my son’s first bike from Kinetik a few months ago, a Norco Ninja 12 (with brake), and I’m excited to pass this reignited love of mountain biking onto future generations.
What do you think? Am I off base on these? What do you love about mountain biking right now?