Luxuriating in the Swiss Alps.

Luxuriating in the Swiss Alps.

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.

Photo: Erik Proano

Photo: Erik Proano

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.

New York City. Photo by Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

New York City. Photo by Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

# Comments

  • Joel DH

    Great points Greg. We are all truly blessed by God that we get to live in a free country and ride our bikes.
    Felicidad dia de accion de gracias. [Happy Thanksgiving]

    • Greg Heil

      Most definitely!

  • Blue Horseshoe

    In my world, MTBing is as essential as air. Without it my life would cease to exist as I know it. It’s so engrained in my lifestyle that I would never consider living somewhere that doesn’t have trails and mountain biking as part of its culture.

    Today (and every day) is one to remember how blessed we as mountain bikers are and give thanks.


    • Greg Heil

      Heck yeah!

  • mongwolf

    Greg, you are so very right. Every time I get on my bike I give thanks, but even more so today. All the best to you and yours this Thanksgiving Greg. I think all of us who join in Singletracks day to day or week to week are thankful for you. Thanks for all you do to make Singletracks what it is. If you are interested, here is a link of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. What an awesome tradition in our country. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/GW/gw004.html

    • Joel DH

      Hey mongwolf great post. But I need to let you know that Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday in the 1700s. It was sorta celebrated on and off after Washington’s address till Thanksgiving was made an official holiday in 1863, after the battle of Gettysburg in the civil war. In response to this great military victory, president Lincoln pronounced a national day of thanksgiving, and that is how Thanksgiving day tradition began. Also, till 1863, Thanksgiving was only really celebrated as a local holiday in the New England area. Just some interesting facts I thought I’d share.

    • mongwolf

      Yes, you know your history. I was trying not to get into the details. The Washington Proclamation was a defining precursor to the official holiday. As was that fall meal/celebration of the Pilgrims with the local native Americans.

    • Greg Heil

      Thanks so much for the kind words Floyd 🙂 And thank you for being a part of this community with all of your insightful comments!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Daniel Lee Dault Jr.

    its true the fact that these trails are either on land owned by the cities they lie in or on private land that the owners allow them to be built on for us to ride on for free or little charge is a gesture of kindness that we should all be thankfull to and treat them with respect just as we do our fellow riders on the trail and even the hikers even when they dont always return that same respect back to us

  • mongwolf

    And wow that picture of NYC Greg included in the article … … I am soooooo thankful I do not live in NYC or LA. My youngest son showed me a live cam of an LA freeway on Wednesday evening. UNBELIEVABLE. Living most of the year in Ulaanbaatar, even with 1.5M people, is still a great blessing.

    • Greg Heil

      Yeah, I can’t do the city life–no way man!

    • socaljohn

      Ulaanbaatar? Wow, that’s a place I’ve never heard of! Had to look it up on Gurgle. Looks like you are in Mongolia. Who knew? Any good riding there? I gotta say, the internet is amazing.

  • mongwolf

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who joins in on Singletracks and also to the entire staff. All the best to you and your loved ones. And to those of us who have such understanding non-riding spouses we should give extra thanks and bless them and spoil them unendingly.

  • kevs04Cobra

    You speak so much truth Greg, thanks for writing this. So blessed to be able to ride!
    Every time I come home in one piece and am healthy for the next ride, I am so thankful to God. Happy holidays to all my mountain brothers and sisters

  • tonylapy@aol.com

    Sitting here inside looking at the two holes orthopedic surgeon punched in my knee two weeks ago while outside, a 60 degree sunny day beckons me to the wilds of Pisgah which is a measly 20 miles away. Oh well, 4 more weeks and I’ll be back shredding and for that, I’m extremely thankful for.

  • Fanbelt

    Great post Greg and very accurate too
    South africa is one of those countries that is also a bit lacking in the mountain bike communities
    i only know of 3 decent bicycle shops within 50 km of my home and the nearest trial is about 2 hours drive away more than half the cyclests i know havent even heard of tubeless tires thru axle hubs fatbikes or air suspension and south africas unemployment rates are skyrocketing leading to more people ending up homeless

  • jdanielowich

    Well said sir! I’m unbelievably lucky that I get to ride 5-6 days a week, and even luckier still that I have miles and miles of awesome trails a little over a half a mile from my house (that I ride to). I cannot imagine not riding (when I don’t, I don’t even go into the garage ’cause my bike gives me dirty looks), am truly thankful that I get to ride, and never take even one second of it for granted (as I get older, I take less for granted)… I agree wholeheartedly with you that if people could get out, exercise, be in the mountains, it would help them immeasurably; I really do wish that everyone could! Thanks for the good thoughts and Happy Holidays and happy riding to all!

  • Morgan L.

    The best way to be thankful is to be involved. Many people have sacrificied, lobbied, and volunteered to make mountain biking a reality for all to enjoy. Be a volunteer trail builder, get involved with local government, take a kid mountain biking, donate money,…… find a way to be involved. It’s even more fulfilling when it’s not just about you.

    • Endo Alley

      “Be a volunteer trail builder, get involved with local government, take a kid mountain biking, ” Great point. I have been involved in all of those things. I belong to a local group who work one evening each week, and numerous weekend projects in the summer for various projects the National Forest wishes accomplished. If people volunteer to repair neglected trails and roads in the forest, the national forest supervisors are much more amenable to opening up terrain to riders. And there is a contentment in riding trails which will remain stable for decades to come. Where I live we have a lot of Hispanic immigrants from Mexico working in the resort community. I have a few extra bikes from yesteryear in my garage. I take quite a few of these guys out riding and hiking, backpacking in the past. They want to enjoy the mountains, but don’t know how to get started A lot of these immigrant people will be the next generation here in the Rockies. I like passing on a little back country etiquette and respect to them. S

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