Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.
Many of us in the mountain biking community are extremely blessed—we get to ride our mountain bikes, after all! While I’ve written about why I need to mountain bike in order to live, the opposite side of this coin is that when I step back and look at this sport that we all enjoy, I realize that getting to mountain bike, even if it’s just once a week, is an incredible luxury—and one that we should all be thankful for.
To highlight the luxuriousness of this sport, consider the demographics of the average mountain biker: a middle aged white male who has a household income of six figures… or more. (Source) For my purposes, let’s just focus on the income numbers—a household income of over $100,000 on average.
While I proved as a broke college student that you could still live the mountain biking life on a bare bones income, as you grow older and find that you have more financial responsibilities like a mortgage and a family, having disposable income to dedicate to the purchase of a multi-thousand-dollar mountain bike, associated accessories, and the annual (or perhaps more frequently) mountain bike vacation makes shredding singletrack on a regular basis a heck of a lot easier.
Even if you don’t fit the average income bracket and you’re instead mountain biking on a slimmer string budget, the factors that have come together to allow you to ride your bike on a regular basis are considerable.
On the most basic level, you have access to singletrack trails to actually ride your mountain bike on. As urbanization climbs and the migration out of rural areas and into the city continues, millions of people are born and raised in locations where it would physically take hours for them to drive and access mountain bike trails.
But that really isn’t the most basic level, is it? If we broaden our focus to the entire world at large, simply having the spare time and energy to ride a mountain bike and even give a rip about pedaling a two wheeled machine in the woods is a luxury. In so many corners of the world, simply surviving is a struggle that absorbs the attention and focus of millions every second of every day. Millions work night and day to scrape together enough of a salary to buy enough food to keep from starving, or maybe they’re even on the run, fearing for their lives from military conflicts that have decimated their homes.
I 100% believe that physical exercise and getting out into the mountains could help millions of people live a better, healthier, more balanced, more fulfilled life than they currently lead, but to be honest, when you read the literature about the struggles of life in Africa and the news stories about the refugees coming out of Syria, simply leading a life of fulfillment and enjoyment is in and of itself a luxurious existence that should not be taken for granted.
During this Thanksgiving week, I encourage you to pause and be thankful for this wonderful sport that we all enjoy. Carve out an hour or a day from your busy holiday schedule, get out in the woods, and pedal your bike. But on what may be your hundredth ride for the season, don’t simply take it for granted. Soak in the beauty of the damp woodlands, the smell of the decomposing leaves as they break down to add sweet loam to the trails. Revel in the absolute silence of the softly-falling snowflakes. Soak in the cool breeze through the cacti and the warmth of the desert sun. In short, take a minute to appreciate this incredible treasure of the good life that we get to enjoy every single day.