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!