If you hang out with cyclists long enough, especially the ones who've been around for a while, especially after consuming enough post ride malty beverages, the nostalgia river starts to flow heavy with much lamenting and crying for the "good old days." You hear how it used to be "real" and how the days used to be epic, trails were new and fresh and exciting, riders weren't hung up on STRAVA or looking good, and they had soul, man. You eventually hear how things are mainstream, sold out, not cool, hollow, etc. And it makes people think "Damn, I missed the golden days of Mountain Biking, when it was this nascent niche outsider rebel thing. People beat their breast and cry to the heavens "OH, where have all the good times gone???"
Don't get me wrong, the things that happened back in the day were cool and fun and you should have fond memories of them, you shouln't forget them and you should keep them alive by telling the stories. Just don't make the past some unattainable goal that makes everything today look like that old chamois that got worn for a week straight and never got washed.
Here is the truth....right now, whether you realize it or not, it is probably the greatest time to be a mountain biker. here are three reasons:
1 - We have more trails than ever before. Go to any state, you will find some sweet trails. Yes, we here in Fruita are blessed with an amazing variety of kick ass trails in terrain you don't have anywhere else, but that doesn't mean there aren't some amazingly fun badass trails elsewhere. There is 32 miles of awesome singletrack at Lake Wilson in Kansas, there are the trails in Patapsco in Maryland, there is Copper Harbor, Michigan, Salmon, Idaho, Rapid City, South Dakota, just to name a few. And they are all legal, no hiding, no carrying your bike deep into the woods just to ride two miles of supposedly fun trail. And the best part is, there are new trails being built all the time. Wherever you live, you can ride and have a blast.
We get people coming into the shop asking where the locals ride, as if we have a secret stash of the really fun trails. We don't. We ride the trails we tell you about, because they are so damn fun and so damn awesome we don't need to build secret trails to have fun, the legal stuff IS the good stuff.
2 - Bikes today are amazing. I ride a full suspension bike that allows me to ride just about any thing I want. My seat goes up and down when my thumb pushes a button. I have a range of gears that let me ride steep hills and still give me what I need on flats and going down a hill. My bike is light and efficient and can take more abuse than a professional MMA fighter. The greatest bike eight years ago is crap compared to a mediocre bike today. Bikes have NEVER been this good, and they keep getting better.
3 - Lots of people = lots of information. I rememeber back in 1992 a freind and I driving around the North Carolina mountains for three hours searching for a trail we heard about from a guy who gave us vague directions. Now that so many people are mountain biking, there is a wealth of information out there and you can find just about any trail faster than it takes to upload the pics of that trail to your facebook to tell everyone you rode it. How many forums, blogs, sites, with trail info, bike reviews, gear reviews, discussions are there? About a bazillion and two. And they are not just from magazines or companies trying to persuade you to spend your money on thier hot new thing (by the way, OTE will be rolling out our newest hot thing, the "micro-29er" later this fall, look for it) but they are done by the guy who lives in your town who is on a budget, or the guy who's been doing this for a while and has tested out and tried the different energy gels and tells you what he thinks is the best. All this information can get confusing, and yes there is a lot of bogus crap info out there, but there is more good solid info than not, and you can get trail info and reviews almost immediately. Sometimes it's almost TOO easy, which might not be great, but that is another blog entry for later. Point is...it's a hell of a lot easier to be informed now than it used to be, and that is a good thing.
So...the 19th Fruita Fat Tire Festival just ended. We had some rain, which put a literal and figuarative dampner on things, and it might be easy to say "oh, it used to be so good, where have all the good times gone?" In a way, it turned out to be one of the most fun festivals to date. We had a smaller crowd, which meant it was more intimate, it was easier and more conducive to meet new people and make new friends who share your passion, which is what it's all about. The fun still happened, it almost happened more. A spontaneous game of Footdown broke out between reps from Hayes and Fox and some local groms. Then bike limbo happened, people just started making fun. There was some tallbike jousting. None of this was schedualed, it just happened, organically, because people are aweosme and they were having a good time. We could say "Oh, it used to be soooo cool, where have all the good times gone?" but we'd be wrong.
The point of all this is this: The good times are right freakin now. We are in them. Don't try to re-live that cool moment five years ago, if you focus on that, you will miss all the super cool moments happening right now. The bikes are better, the trails are better, access is easier, and right here, right now, is where the good times are.
If you missed the Fat Tire Festival, or didn't want to come because you think it got too big, please re-think it and come join us next year. If you feel sad because you missed the good old days of 1" long-travel bikes with wierd geometry and spending half a day driving around to find a four mile trail, you can still have those fun adventures, and the rewards today are waaaay greater. Consider yourself lucky to be riding now, when things are fantastic and will only get better. These are the good times. Don't miss them. Get out there and ride your bike, and if you can, come to Fruita, and come ride with us. We would love to share the good times with you.