If you type in denverbomb.com into your browser, you might expect a visit from guys in suits and dark sedans. Although I visit this mountain bike site regularly, those guys still haven’t shown up at my door… yet. That is probably because that URL has nothing to do with explosives, but rather a group of guys in the Denver metro area that are passionate about mountain bikes, and sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. They are known as Denver BOMB.
While more than 83 percent of Americans in the US claim Christianity as their religion, the interesting thing, though, is that few people I know outside of BOMB even think of combining their favorite sport with their religious beliefs–no matter what they believe in. Maybe some would argue that they have nothing to do with one another, but the same argument could be made about bikes in beer. For some reason, they compliment each other well.
That being said, this is not an article about religion or faith specifically, but about riding with a group that has a purpose. It is not meant to offend anyone with different beliefs. I ride with several different groups, but I chose this particular group because I know them well, and they definitely stand out. There are other groups in my area, including other Christian cycling groups such as IC3 (International Christian Cycling Club), but for many reasons I keep showing up and riding with these guys/gals regularly, and inviting friends to do the same.
Denver BOMB is one of many offshoots from around the world, originally started by BOMB International in Simi Valley, California in 1997. Their mission statement is simple:
“We are Believers On Mountain Bikes, our intent is to expand the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, through people who mountain bike. Thereby, bringing the word to those who are not Christians, encouraging ongoing fellowship, and presenting the opportunity for all of us to develop a personal relationship with Christ.”
Interestingly, most BOMB chapters have little to do with one another and are not part of a bigger organization. From what I can tell, the chapters are usually started by a bunch of dudes with common faith interests and the group grows into a successful chapter on its own. There are no dues. No secret meetings or handshakes. No charter or pledge to sign. There is definitely no judgement. The club purpose is simple: show up and ride, and expect to hear a little bit about how God is impacting people’s lives to make the world a better place.
There are a lot of factors that comprise a successful group that rides regularly. Maddslacker wrote a great article about it last year. I can honestly say that I am a better mountain biker, and person, because of the contact I have with them. I also have friends who ride with BOMB in other parts of the US, and we all agree that there seems to be a common thread that makes this group a little different than our other local groups for mountain bikers. After riding with dozens of non-BOMB groups all over the country, Denver BOMB stands out because of the following:
Accountability: If you’ve been to a modern day church recently, you know that accountability is a concept about keeping people on the straight and narrow, i.e. on a good path in their lives. People have “accountability partners” that they meet with and discuss their struggles and get encouragement. Basically it’s like meeting with a buddy for a little bro-therapy. BOMB is no different. Although there is nothing formal, several members of the group regularly check in on one another when someone is going through hard times. People get divorced. Our kids go off to college and do irresponsible things. Spouses get cancer. And, of course, we all have our own individual, dark struggles. It is nice to have friends who genuinely care about you after the ride. We are there for each other, whether it’s helping someone move, or offering up a quick prayer for a grandma who’s dying.
Fellowship: Fellowship is friendship, but it is also a little more than that. When BOMB gathers, we pray and show our appreciation that we have our health, our families, and the means and ability to ride bikes when so many people are struggling in this world with just the basics. We stop often, and talk about how our faith got us through something difficult. In fact, some guys pose very difficult and thought-provoking questions that give you something to think about long after the ride is over. At the end of our rides, we celebrate with hot dogs, chips, and beverages. Most importantly, we stay in touch between rides, and make sure everyone is doing ok.
Skill: I thought I knew how to ride a mountain bike before I started riding with BOMB, but I was sorely mistaken. More than with other groups I’ve been with, I’ve learned a lot from these guys about pushing the limits. The great thing about a group like this is that there are men and women of all abilities and interests, from noobs to ex-pros. In general, the BOMB rides are no-drop rides and go at a slower, group pace, but there are some seriously fast uphill XC riders, as well as a few fearless downhill shredders.
Knowledge: There are some really passionate riders in Denver BOMB. We don’t just talk about bikes, but on long rides or trips (like our annual trips to Fruita and Moab), we have a lot of time to talk shop. We share our passion and knowledge about things like bike geometry, riding techniques, pro tips, bike maintenance, pro riders to follow, lines to choose, and how to fix/install components. We’ve had some very spirited debates!
Friendship: Aside from the regular group fellowship, I have personally made some very close friends in BOMB. We ski together, travel together, have coffee, and hang out throughout the week. I do ride with other groups and riders in my area, but I really don’t have the same connection with them. There is something really cool about having a group like this
Meeting and riding with BOMB has been an amazing experience.
We recognize that people are different and unique, and we are all imperfect people who make mistakes. Most of us actually go to different churches, and BOMB welcomes anyone, from any faith to ride with us.
Riding with the BOMB group has taught me a lot as a person, a rider, and as a believer. You probably picked up on that. I feel fortunate and blessed to have stumbled upon them, and the friends I have invited to ride with BOMB generally agree. Sometimes I still enjoy–and need–to ride alone. However, if you are looking for a group to ride with, I would strongly suggest that you check out your local BOMB chapter if you have one near you.
Your turn: have you been on BOMB rides or belong to a BOMB group? What do you think?