From an outsiders perspective, mountain biking can seem intimidating, dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Like any sport though, what you see in Red Bull videos and YouTube stunt videos is not the reality of the sport that is enjoyed by the average participant. If you’re new to the sport of mountain biking or thinking of hitting the trails, don’t be intimidated because of the stereotypes you hear. On the flipside, if you’re a seasoned mountain biker, make it your duty to dispel mountain biking stereotypes and create a welcoming environment for newcomers.
5 Mountain Biker Stereotypes
1. WE ARE OUTRAGEOUS THRILL SEEKERS
We do seek ‘thrills’, but not in the way the media portrays mountain bikers. We take calculated risks based on our skill level and we push ourselves just passed our comfort zone. For the majority of us, ‘thrill seeking’ means challenging ourselves every time we hit the trail, planning hour-long, day-long or weekend-long mountain bike adventures, escaping to our local singletrack trails to clear our minds from our busy lives or pondering life at amazing viewpoints along the trail. We’re not after heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing experiences all the time. Most of all, we appreciate mountain biking as our passion that connects us to our community, friends and the natural world. It’s our way to disconnect and recharge.
2. WE “SHRED THE GNAR”
‘Shred the Gnar’ basically means to ride with ‘exceptional speed, ability, or enthusiasm, especially in difficult terrain and conditions.’ It’s usually accompanied by the word “bro” or “dude”… and NO, that isn’t how most mountain bikers speak and it isn’t what all mountain bikers do when they ride. The majority of us are not seeking the biggest gap jump we can find, nor are we searching for the ‘gnarliest’ drops and skinnies. Most of us find glory in the beauty of a flow trail that weaves through the trees, the challenge of a climbing switchback trail or conquering a rock garden.
3. WE ARE A NUISANCE ON SHARED TRAILS
In any sport, there are usually a few bad apples that give it a bad name. Rest assured, the majority of mountain bikers are friendly, welcoming and want to be good neighbors on shared trail systems. We want to protect our forest, desert and mountain trails for the enjoyment of all users. We understand good trail etiquette, we respect trail closures, we practice a ‘leave no trace’ philosophy and we yield as required.
4. WE ARE GEAR SNOBS
The majority of mountain bikers don’t look like they just rode out of a Pink Bike video or dropped $500 on clothing at Whistler mountain bike shops. You can ride in whatever makes you comfortable. You don’t need the latest sweat-wicking fabric or trendy cycling shoes. Most importantly, make sure you have the gear that will keep you safe out on the trail — a mountain biking specific helmet, a water bottle to stay hydrated, plus a well-maintained tuned up bike.
Wear whatever brings you joy…
5. WE ARE ALL “BROS”
Women are taking over the mountain bike scene and new women’s only clubs, rides, events, and races are popping up everywhere. The mountain bike community welcomes people all ages, genders, and abilities. It’s common for local mountain bike clubs to hold beginner, intermediate and advanced riders, as well as skills clinics for kids and adults. Don’t be intimidated, everyone rides together and learns together.
To all the mountain bikers out there, remember that you’re representing the sport and the mountain biking community whenever you go for a ride. Help crush these stereotypes and encourage more people to enter the wonderful world of mountain biking!