Before we dig into the meat of what you can do with your mountain bike, let’s point out one very important thing. This is not your ordinary bicycle. Sure, it has two wheels and a frame that resembles the 10-speed you had in junior high, but this is a very different type of machine. Picture your old school bike on steroids, and you may get a bit of an idea of where we are going with this. A mountain bike is a rugged, sturdy apparatus that is built to take a fair deal of abuse and keep you safe and sound while you tootle down unbeaten paths that would scare off the ordinary cyclist. With this in mind, we present to you crazy things you can do with that set of wheels.
1 – Racing Like You Just Don’t Care
The oval track and titanium, lightweight bikes with riders wearing skintight bodysuits is not the kind of racing we are talking about. So, relax. The racing world for mountain bikers is about as rugged as the bike itself. Untamed, unmarked and unknown are words that come to mind when we think about cross-country mountain bike racing. There are all the thrills and chills of a timed race on an oval only there’s no oval or all that much in the way of bodysuits. This form of racing pits you and your bike against Mother Nature. Sometimes she is a rather nasty bitch throwing dead trees across cattle trails and filling a lot of places with mud for you to get covered in from head to toe. Feel like a real bike race? Try mountain bike racing. Oh, by the way, the girls who participate in this sport will kick your butt several times over so be prepared.
2 – Ride In The Snow
It’s okay. This wasn’t exactly at the top of our list, either but wait just a minute. Your mountain bike is not one of those wimpy little pansy rides you have between walking and getting a car. A mountain bike is built for experimentation. We’re thinking the kind of experimentation that exercises your mind and stretches your reality to a place it has never been before without the assistance of drugs or a bad prescription. Snow is Winter’s way of saying you can’t do what you want to do on the road or any trail that you usually tear up during the warmer months. Snow biking is a whole different experience. It’s you telling Winter that you are not going to spend every cold day curled up in the fetal position near a heat register in your home yearning for some time on your bike. Consider getting winter tires for your wheels – as you would for your vehicle – and kick up some snow. You may never want to stop riding in the white stuff.
3 – Be A Trailblazer
You’ve heard the line, “If you build it, they will come” right? It’s about a whole different sport but was a reference to the fact that if you have a dream, and you are one of those who can organize a work party or know how to use a few basic tools yourself, you can build a trail for mountain biking. We know, it sounds like far more work than we are prepared to put into any hobby we’ve enjoyed but think about it for a moment. Say you and a few local bikers got together and built a trail with a series of jumps, curves and crazy stuff that you wacky mountain bikers love so much on your trails – including mud. You can’t forget the mud – imagine the fun you’d have. Maybe it would lead to the formation of a local group, and Y’all can start organizing group rides and taking turns digging another half mile on your trail system. It’ll be fun.
4 – Lights Out
We’re not sure what we like about the idea of night riding, but it’s got some kind of attraction to it. You know, the kind of attraction that a highway accident has as you drive by. You hope you don’t see any injured people, but you slow down enough to get a good look, just in case. With night biking you are left out in the dark. Well, okay, for beginners you can use a headlamp or a bike light, but sooner or later you are going to want to ditch those things and ride the risky ride in the dark. Okay, you saw the word ‘risky’ in there, and we have a small disclaimer for you. Don’t be a doofus and ride dangerously in the dark. We’re talking about not wearing reflective gear so other (much larger) vehicles can at least see you out there doing whatever it is you are doing on your mountain bike after sunset. If you live somewhere where the Moon lights up the night sky, you’ll enjoy night biking even more.
5 – Conduct Your Personal Clinic
In the mountain biking world, it’s referred to as sessioning. Essentially, that one piece of trail that keeps causing you to dump your load or some other obstacle that messes you up is your target. You spend as long as you have to to master that one glitch. So, you are taking a session on how to beat that snag. Normally, the average biker would either skip that place the next time they ride it, or they just chalk it up to experience that sometimes you are going to scrap your knees. Well, with a mountain bike you can go over that stretch of terrain as often as you have to to logic your way through without a spill or a cut. It’s really up to the style of rider you are. Do you really want that section of gravel to own you or do you want to own it? That really is the bottom line. We prefer to own our ground. Well, the ground our spouse lets us own.
6. I forgot what 6 was for.
7 – Just Ride The Damn Thing
Well, there is some truth to just riding your mountain bike because you can. Sure, you can scale some interesting terrain that those other cyclists cringe at, but that’s okay. You’re part of that macho group that falls between those kinds of bikers and that other kind of biker – the motorcyclist. But that’s a completely different blog topic altogether. Your mountain bike is built to withstand some torture. The wheels are thick and offer a great deal of cushioning that combines with the shock absorbers in the forks and under the seat. Those are there, so your dentures or fillings don’t get rattled out on a quick ride to the grocery store for a pack of smokes. A mountain bike is meant to be ridden. It’s not an ornament nor is it a piece of furniture. The most enjoyment you are going to get from one is spent on the seat with a firm grip on the handlebars. Sure, your Spidey senses are going to tingle every now and again. That’s normal if you are using your wheels for what they were designed for.
So, What Are You Waiting For?
If any of these suggestions sound like something you’d be interesting in giving a go, then you need to get yourself a mountain bike. If you already have one and are already bored to tears with just riding it up and down the street, hopefully, we’ve inspired you. There are a lot of fun things you can do with such a strong and durable set of wheels under your undercarriage. It may not win you an Olympic Medal because you find lightweight titanium bicycles dull and boring just like the oval track they are raced on. You want to get out there. You want to breathe the fresh air, hear the sounds of nature and have mud crust on parts of your body you don’t normally throw mud at. These are the magical things that make mountain biking so freakin’ cool and rad and hip and happenin’ all at roughly the same time.
It’s that call of the wild – whatever that really is – that beckons you to jump on your mountain bike and explore that range you used to just drive by in a pickup truck. There is no better way to experience the randomness of the rough surface of the Earth (unpaved, if we have to explain) than on the seat of a mountain bike holding on for dear life and opening your eyes when you quit feeling tree branches slapping you in the face. It is all of these things and a whole lot more. But for us to give away all the secrets, what’s the point in your checking it out for yourself? So, mount that bike and give it a rough ride as you’ve never done before. You may discover you like it a bit on the rough side.