Mountain Biking Way of Life
You may have heard of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Or the Tao of Happiness? These are books that discuss paths to happiness and serenity. My own preferred path for the last few decades has been super creamy downhill singletrack strewn with rocks and ruts here and there. I call it the Mountain Biking Way of Life. (Maybe I should write a book!)
I love mountain biking. It brings you to places you thought you could only reach in your dreams. I’ve been riding bicycles longer than I’ve driven cars, since about the age of seven and I’ve been riding mountain bikes since 1986. My husband Mark and I even got married on mountain bikes in the Cuyamaca Mountains in 1987.
Compared to other bikes, a mountain bike has fat, knobby tires for good traction on dirty, rocky trails. It can have up to 27 gears to ride up impossibly steep angles. It can also come equipped with front and/or rear shocks for a cushy ride over rocky terrain.
What I enjoy about riding off-road is the exhilarating sense of freedom it gives me. You can cycle two or three times further on the trail than you can walk, so you can explore nature more deeply. It’s my favorite form of exercise. Well, maybe second favorite. Mark and I share a fiery passion for mountain biking which took us around the world.
Our bikes brought us within gazing distance of Mt. Everest, the Matterhorn and Mt. Olympus, home of the gods. In Costa Rica, we pedaled down into Turrialba Volcano and went “scuba-biking” off the Pacific coast. In Switzerland, we rode on a bridge over the Reichenbach Falls where the evil Dr. Moriarty shoved Sherlock Holmes to his death. The most fun we’ve ever had has been on our mountain bikes. Well, maybe the second most fun.
I wish that everyone could try mountain biking, but I know that many resist it because it is a rigorous sport, demanding power, motivation and endurance. It’s very rewarding however, both physically and mentally. It strengthens your legs, firms your butt and expands your lungs and your mind. It’s an excellent cardiovascular workout and it is never boring.
Just imagine pedaling down a wildflower-strewn alpine meadow overlooking Lake Geneva, or crossing an old miner’s bridge over a cascading river in Wales. Picture yourself on a dirt path along a tropical beach with a turquoise sea inviting you in for a swim. Imagine kangaroos hopping alongside you as you meander by bicycle across the world’s oldest mountains, the Flinders Ranges. As the sun sets and the sky turns a brilliant orange, listen to the roar of hundreds of parrots silhouetted in a gum tree as they take to the sky.
Mountain bikers are typically happy-go-lucky “Magellans on fat tires.” We have a finger-pulse on land access. Land access has everything to do with where you can and cannot ride a bicycle. What we have observed many times is this: Certain recreational areas where we go to ride for years without a problem, are suddenly closed. Some trails are closed only to biking; some are closed to everybody and some trails are obliterated forever after developments pop up. Some recent good news, however, was delivered in Moab at a mountain-biking festival in 2015 by a Bureau of Land Management Maps Video for Mountain Bikers representative who said that the BLM wishes to open more trails to mountain bikers, as it is the mountain biking community that does the lion’s share in creating and maintaining wilderness beautiful trails for people to enjoy.
One of the toughest things for me was to watch as big yellow mechanical caterpillars ate through the center of our favorite ride and transformed it into San Diego’s Highway 52 connector. There is good news, though. There are over 10 million mountain bikers in the U.S., indicating more people are eager to become involved in the sport and reap its benefits.
In 1996 at the centennial Olympics in Atlanta, mountain biking was an event for the first time. This prestigious honor was very exciting to us “hammerheads” and I believe it did much to popularize the sport.
If you are still unconvinced about entering the sport of mountain biking, I encourage you to get out there and explore nature without wheels. Immerse yourself in the turquoise sea. Smell the wildflowers. Revel in the sunset. Go to the places you have up until now only dreamed of, for they are truly out there.
Patty Mooney is has been an avid Mountain Biker since 1986. She is also a VP, Video Producer, Video Editor, Sound Technician, Teleprompter Operator and Voice Over Actor at Award-Winning San Diego Video Production Company, Crystal Pyramid Productions