I Don’t Love My Mountain Bike, I Love Riding It

I Don’t Love My Mountain Bike, I Love Riding It

Over the past few years, I have been really puzzled by social media in the mountain biking universe. It seems like people love their bikes, their bike brand and photos of their bike more than actually riding their bike! This is beyond scary to me.

I love what modern bikes and 30 years of practice allow me to do! But, no one needs the latest and greatest to have fun. In the late ’90s at the end of my downhill racing season, I would go for a ride on my fully rigid Rockhopper with cantilever brakes and 40 pounds of pressure in the flimsy old tires and I would have a blast, on a beginner trail.

Two years ago we were climbing up Porcupine Rim from the river (because the top of the trail was covered in snow) and we encountered a smiling guy coming down the trail. He was on an old rigid bike with V-brakes and an elastomer fork. He was grinning ear to ear and told us the snow wasn’t that bad, only 6″ in places! That guy made our day, that is a great attitude!

The marketing in the mountain bike industry is over the top and like most marketing, it is designed to play on your insecurities and your desire to be part of a community. It really saddens me to see riders hashtagging #iamspecialized, especially when Specialized isn’t sponsoring them! You are you, a unique individual who may own a Specialized bike but please don’t let your bike brand define you. (not a knock on Specialized bikes, I just dislike their slogan)

On that note, don’t let any “thing” you own define you. Let your integrity, personality, and love define you! Yes, I love mountain biking and yes, when I was younger I had moments when I let mountain biking define me. How sad, there is so much more to me than my love for mountain biking and my love of coaching. I love live music, learning, traveling, getting to know people from other cultures, making friends, spending time with friends, getting my mind blown Neil deGrasse Tyson, helping to raise my girlfriend’s children and so much more.

Love yourself, not some company. My degree was in business with a focus on marketing and entrepreneurship and it quickly became obvious that the goal of most marketing was to get you (the consumer) to feel that you aren’t worthy (worthy of love, worthy of respect) unless you own the product being marketed. Marketing is powerful and it affects all of us, including me.

Marketing preys on our insecurities, our idea that if we just had something more we would be happier. Things don’t make us happy, happiness is a choice. Instagram doesn’t make you happy, living your life as joyfully, as challenging and as fulfilling as possible makes you happy.

Speaking of Instagram, does anyone else feel it is sad that the photos I post that get the most likes aren’t the ones of me riding or the ones with incredibly beautiful views?  The photos that get the most likes are photos of my bike! My bike, just sitting there, how sad.

Be happy, be a good person and if it doesn’t drain your bank account buy a great bike and ride it! Post Instagram photos of you riding that bike and having a blast! Here is one of me from 1989:

BetterRide founder Gene Hamilton's first mountain bike

Gene Mountain Biking in 1989, When Bandannas Were Helmets!


12 replies
  1. Peter Cook
    Peter Cook says:

    At last someone with common sense ! Good article Gene, it is about the riding. The magazine’s always amuse me, with comments like this new version of a bike with 10mm more travel and 1degree extra here blows last year’s model into the weeds when the reality is it might be a second or so quicker down a 4min trail run, hardly any difference in reality. Unless you are competing where every second does count then I don’t care how long I take on trails, I’m having fun – and isn’t that the whole point ?

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Thanks, Peter! You nailed it. Most of us aren’t exactly riding our bikes to their limit, including most racers. The top pros are and as you said a few small tweaks could really help them. Bikes have come along way in the last 5 years so a newer bike (with 2 degrees or more difference in head angle and/or a steeper seat tube angle can help but it won’t turn an average rider into Aaron Gwin!

  2. Jose Delgado
    Jose Delgado says:

    Thanks Gene, well said. I wish you would of told me this before spending the 10 grand! Anyway, I did get some wider tires and more suspension and it feels great! I am the traction monster! I do grin often, sometimes more of a smirk but it’s all good…

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Nothing wrong with your 10k bike, I bet it is a blast and technological wonder! As you you didn’t have to take out a second mortgage and you love riding absolutely nothing wrong with that. Please just post photos of you riding it, or it covered in dust, dirt or mud after a good ride. Glad the wider tires and more suspension are feeling great! Keep grinning Jose!

  3. Dave Brown
    Dave Brown says:

    Excellent post. I think often people forget why they are out there; it’s to have fun. I remember over a decade ago I was riding the Livestrong 100 road ride event on my old triple chain ring road bike (still ride it) and as I passed this guy going up Lookout Mountain he yelled – A triple, think of the rider you could be. Brought me a good laugh.

  4. Michael
    Michael says:

    Thanks for encouraging the joy of riding instead of the mania of buying. I picked up a beat up 3 year old boutique bike 3 years ago for cheap and just added a nicer fork and better seat dropper this winter season. I’ve invested mostly in time working on my balance and riding the local pump track to boost my skills. I’m looking forward to just enjoying riding more.

  5. JD Dallager
    JD Dallager says:

    Well said, Gene, and THANKS! If you want to see people who enjoy riding regardless of the machines they’re on, then go to a NICA MTB race near where you live. High school competitors, parents, relatives, friends, and grand-parents all having one heck of a good time and ENJOYING the activity itself.

  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    You know what? I have noticed this. People take their bikes out to a beautiful trail, prop it up and take a picture of their bikes! I do find it sad and odd. Why aren’t you in the picture? Even if you’re just standing there, holding the bike in the beautiful panorama! Just a sad, lonely bike.

    I think some people are a little insecure that they can’t ride like Fairclough or Richie Rude. So what? Get a photo of yourself going over that rock! I think we’ve been conditioned to think that everyone rides like pros, when in actuality, they are a small, small sliver of the mountain bike population. And then we’re embarrassed to post photos of ourselves riding because we don’t look like that. Maybe that’s part of it — I don’t know. Maybe they don’t have anyone to take their pictures.

    But yeah, I’m with you. Last fall, I bought a new bike and took a picture because I was proud to have been able to scrape up enough money to buy a new one after almost 10 years. I was stoked about the bike, but I resolved it would be the last photo I would take of this “thing.” From here on out, I’m on that bike if a photo is involved.

  7. Esteban
    Esteban says:

    There is a well known relationship developed by the owner and the bike (more than with cars, watches…), especially when you can’t afford anything else, precisely because what a bike gives to you (freedom, life, joy). If you are fortunate enough and can change bikes regularly, maybe that relationship becomes less important.

    I very recently had to sell my ’90s steel hardtail to buy a new transmission for my current alu hardtail, and it was sad for me, all the memories had a physical representation, an avatar, in that bicycle.

    Yes, “iamspecialized” and “iamnikon” and whatever, is laughable and sad at the same time, because they hide a hidden wrong belief that the brand is the best, or that little bit of extra technology, that extra half degree, will suddenly make you able.

    I always say the best bike is the one that you own.


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