photo: Leah Barber

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re a mountain biker. And there’s probably someone who first introduced you to the sport.

Whether you want to grow the sport or just want to introduce mountain biking to others so they can enjoy it too, consider who you might invite on your next ride.

# Comments

  • mad357

    Roadie for years, when driving and texting became I thing I started going off road and built up a gravel bike, then a mountain bike , rest is history, I’d choose mountain biking 10/10 over anything paved

  • rmap01

    I used to do a lot of trail running. But, like most runners, I sustained an injury that prevented me from running but not riding. Saw some guys riding on one of the trails and thought I’d give it a try as opposed to riding on pavement. At the time, I was in excellent “running” fitness. But I got my ass kicked on that first ride! After that, I was hooked.

  • kangaldog

    What passes for Mt. biking today is a far cry from what it was fifty years ago.
    I use to ride my old steel framed schwinn in the hills of california in the 1950s and beyond.
    I guess you could call that mt. biking . ????
    In those days we rode for the fresh air , exercise , scenery and the joy of paying attention to the animals ,trees ,boulders and all that nature has to offer and more.
    Today Kamakazi riders seem to only be interested in seeing how fast they can get off of the mountain.

    • ffdar911

      In those days we rode for the fresh air , exercise , scenery and the joy of paying attention to the animals ,trees ,boulders and all that nature has to offer and more.
      I still do that! 2019

  • kite005

    I’d say as kids we took old 10 speeds with drop bars put regular handlebars on them and rode around in the dirt, tried to see how far we could jump etc. There were no mountain bikes. But we got as close as we could.

    • kite005

      Early ’70 s

  • vapidoscar

    @rmap01 It is amazing to me how fitness for one aerobic activity doesn’t cross over. I’d say I got into decent biking shape this past summer but it didn’t translate to running or swimming at all.

    @kangaldog You forgot to tell us to get off your lawn. But I also don’t think most mountain bikers are doing what you see on youtube but I don’t live where you do.

    @kite005 For the kids in my neighborhood, it was BMX bikes. We even tried to dig a BMX track at the bottom of a hill. We started with the hill and then tried to build a berm into some “jumps”. With the room that we had it should have been like berm – roller – berm – roller – berm. But we dug like 5 micro jumps after a tiny berm.

    For me, I figured out putting wheels to dirt in my 30s. I had a mountain bike but wasn’t aware of where they would be used and it sat in my parents’ garage until my kids started riding. The love of the outdoors came much earlier, mountain biking replaced hunting and fishing for me. It is much easier to fit in my schedule and more active.

  • mtnjak

    I had ridden BMX bikes with my friends growing up in the 80s. Then one of my friends got a Canondale mountain bike in college as transportation around campus around 1994. I had sold my last BMX a few years before but when I saw my friend’s Canondale I got to thinking again about riding bikes. I starting researching and realized that with my job I had a lot of saving to do in order to afford a mountain bike. It seemed these “grownup” bikes came with a grown up price tag. I finally bought my first mountain bike, a 1996 GT Pantera, in February 1996. I went riding some singletrack locally and quickly realized a suspension fork was needed. However, that would have to wait. Instead of buying a new fork, I instead took that money and two months later me and my two buddies drove to Moab, UT for our first taste of real mountain biking. Nevermind that our vehicle blew up halfway there and we had to pool our money for another cheap vehicle. Undeterred, we kept heading west and made it to Moab. The rest is history.

  • Charlie Kelly

    My roommate Gary Fisher and I were road racers, and had a couple of 40 year old balloon tire bikes we used for town bikes. Where we live there are a lot of dirt roads and trails, so we started riding them out there. Then we came up with the idea of racing downhill against the clock, and our old bikes weren’t up to the task, so we designed and built off-road bikes from scratch and decided to sell them.

    And we called our product a “MountainBike.”

    • mtnjak

      Charlie, thank you for your contribution to our sport! You, Gary, Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey all helped get us to where we are today. Sidenote: my buddies and I revisited Moab in 2001. We were chatting with some guys from a youth group from California while riding Slickrock one day. They invited us to ride with them and another well known mountain biker the next day on Porcupine Rim. We wondered if he was pulling our leg or not. We showed up the next day and made it to the lookout point on Porcupine. Sure enough we look over and there he is on one of his classic rides–no suspension and no helmet! (I don’t suggest riding without a helmet, especially off-road and on Porcupine!). We took off and not even my friends who are a little faster than me could not keep up with him–and we were on full suspension bikes! We finally caught up with him at the very end of the ride back at an after ride party back in Moab. I remember snapping a pic of my buddies with his bike in the background. The rider was Tom Ritchey himself. Good times!

  • DMig

    Signed my 12 year old up with the local youth riding group 906AT. They are great at including the kids off all skill levels. The trails in Marquette, Mi are varied and many and he had a blast all summer.

    Late summer, a local bike shop, Downwind Sports had demo days with Giant bikes. My older son and I hit the trails and we’re hooked.

    I bought a Giant Trance 29 Pro 3 and learning how great a bike it is.

  • Podiumcrasher

    Riding dirt trails under power lines as a kid on my bmx bike in the 70’s and trying to figure out a way to get gears on my bike.

    Later in life got a summer gig with the PD educating people about bike safety riding on sidewalks and in the college pedestrian mall. Rode a bike with knobby tires and some gears. Then assigned to “patrol” the nature park and that did it. Something about getting out in the woods and a sense of freedom that I don’t find from any other activity.

  • m.krupp

    Like many people near my age (44), me getting into mountain biking evolved over time. I read so many stories and have multiple friends that loved BMX. Loved riding my bike and being in the woods. Eventually I would discover the bikes that combine both these. Like most it is hard to nail an exact time down when i started. Technically I was riding horse trails and farm roads on a BMX bike as a kid. So maybe a lifetime. I do no one had to tell me about it. It seems so natural. I do make effort to bring others to the sport. It is so good for my soul.

  • mongwolf

    Loved the comments. Great stories everyone. My first ride was in the mountains of Mongolia. We rented some crappy hardtails and did a brutal two mile climb (some hike-a-bike) on a pristine trail, followed by a four mile downhill (part of which was off trail all together and included one endo for me), followed by a brutal one mile climb, finishing on a one mile downhill … … all in beautiful old growth mountain forest and short grass slopes. Needless to say, I was hooked. That was seven years ago now. Though I will ride wherever, mountain biking for me is all about the adventure in the mountains — the challenge, the nature, the solitude … and the thrill of a long descent. =)

    And to add a +1 to the conditioning comments, being a forester and a runner, I had spent years hiking in the forest and running trails. None of that seemingly provided any conditioning benefit to the rigors of mountain biking. In reality it obvious provided some. At least I wasn’t 6’0″ and 400lb. But it took me a good two years before I felt like my cardio and my core (especially my hips) were in some reasonable mtb-specific shape. Still to this day (this is my sixth year of riding in earnest), I do not feel like I am in good mtb shape, probably because I mainly just ride, I don’t train … and I’m 57. =)

    R I D E O N ! ! ! ! !

    • m.krupp

      I second mongwolf with more stories/articles on personal experience from the ‘average’ mountain biker. Nothing against the pros but I am not a pro and don’t aspire to be or really look up to them. I am impressed by pros skills but I want to hear about how the average guy/gal does this sport. Someone who has a limited budget and time because the have a job (not a sponsor) and kids (not a support crew).

  • mongwolf

    Also, I wanted to say that this was a great survey question imo. Really liked the personal nature of the question. I would love to see Singletracks do more stories/articles about the personal experience of riding as was the case a few years ago, rather than emphasizing products and professional riders/races and the likes. Maybe that’s just me or maybe my perception is off. That being said, Singletracks is still the best online mtb site there is, primarily because of the community of riders and how everyone for the most part respects one another (unlike other sites). Jeff and Leah have done a fantastic work over the years with the “product” and the culture of Singletracks.

  • abegold

    Was hiking and a girl flew by on a mountain bike in 1995. I said, “Damn, that looks like fun!” Bought some dirt tires for my road bike until a friend bought a hard tail. The second I got on it I realized how much more stable it was. Bought one within a couple weeks.

  • RetiredVTUPSer

    Working at UPS and delivering to a really cool bike shop. Bought a Haro full rigid and loved to explore logging roads as that’s what we did a long time ago.

  • Poshua

    I got a Walmart “Hyper” mountain bike and went to a small trail, which was definitely a novice level trail looking back at it, and kinda fell in love with mountain biking since then. I guess I introduced myself, but also not really.

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