I know some might find this hard to believe, but mountain biking isn’t a ‘fringe’ sport anymore. Why? Because I say so. No really, it isn’t just for the weird antisocial guy at work, it isn’t just for the yuppie in the big house who travels to the trailhead in his new hummer, and it isn’t just for the hiking-but-with-a-little-more-umph granola eaters anymore. Dead serious, normal folks ride too, now. What made the difference? Probably a number of events, but just to name a few (after all, we do have a blog to publish here):
Does this one seem odd? Allow me to explain: how many people do you know who wrecked their knees jogging or doing step aerobics in leotards or some other high-impact sport? Yep, all of those people are now looking for low-impact sports to replace the injurious sports they came from. The alternatives to mountain biking? Swimming
, elliptical machine use, water aerobics … that’s about it. I’d say the choice is obvious.
You Know Who (not Voldemort)
Cycling was one of those sports that you had to wait around until the Olympics to watch right up until the US of A managed to grab a sport icon: no Greg LeMond, that honor falls most conspicuously to Lance Armstrong. Okay, so not everyone wants to be at the finish line waving a “Lance Fan” sign or waving the Texas flag. (On a side note: has anyone ever thought that maybe Texas and Quebec could break off from their respective countries and form one of their own: Quexas, they’d be Quexicans.)
Anyway, not everyone needs to be Armstrong-tastic for this phenomenon to promote the sport. The bottom line (yes, that
bottom line) is that polls, taken just a couple of years ago, showed that most people would trust an endorsement from LA before any other cultural icon. (If you don’t believe me, think about how many people used to diss on car-trucks vs how many of those same people now own Subaru Bajas
—sweet car.) And while most can’t afford a new $9,000 Trek Madone, most can afford a $450 Trek 4500. Never mind that it’s a one-stop purchase. You’ll probably never need a new one (that is, until you can
afford that road bike—think Cannondale here).
Suddenly with casual, recreational mountain biking, one didn’t actually have to wear spandex to participate in cycling, unlike its skinny-wheeled Euro-based equivalent. You can actually go out and do this sport wearing shorts and a T-shirt and look relatively normal (although you still probably ought to have the dorky helmet for safety reasons).
In fact, mountain biking began coming without a lot of the requirements other sports have—you don’t even have to have gone into the mountains to qualify as a mountain biker as long as you’ve been around town with your shiny new rig. Heck, you don’t even have to turn the pedals to qualify, you just have to have your rusty steel frame sitting in your garage or locked to your apartment’s bike rack or staircase. Your dates will spot your knobby tires and immediately swoon at the fact that they’re out with an extreme athlete.
Despite the shift of normalcy to include mountain biking, certain aspects of mountain biking insist on shifting away from the normalcy. This isn’t so much directed toward the downhillers as it is to the freeriders, but haven’t y’all noticed that your bikes look more like motorcycles sans motors? Then there’s the umpire equipment you have to wear for each ride. I realize it’s a thrill, but c’mon people. Mountain biking was looking so normal until we got to this end of the spectrum.
Okay, so what do y’all think? (Yes, Mocha, I’m asking for your reaction as well.) Are we normal yet? Or are we right up there with tap-dancing fiddlers who grow beards, look like leprechauns and are named ‘Ashley’?