The Stoke is an occasional opinion series highlighting the things that get us stoked about mountain biking. 🤘 👍 👏 🙏
Scrolling through Facebook the other night, Leah paused on a meme posted on the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association group page. “Isn’t this your bike?”
Sure enough, there it was: My old Trek 7000 hardtail. I gave the bike away almost a decade ago, and the photo in the meme is the same one I remember snapping on my back porch just before its final send off.
In a Facebook conversation with Marc Allen, who posted the meme to the Ottawa group, he seemed to imply that he created the meme. Of course with memes it’s always tough to nail down the original creator; an email from someone named Carl Loin claims Ryan Mock created it. In any event, Marc says he chose the image because “it just resonated with me since I started MTB in the early 90s.”
Of course Facebook being Facebook, there were comments. Initial commenters found humor in the meme, but later posters weren’t entirely on board. It seems some felt like the meme was a form of mean-spirited bike shaming, or perhaps a flex by a member of the old guard.
Coincidentally, the Singetracks team was just talking last week about how it seems like some — certainly not all, but some — downhill courses have become faster and less technical compared to those from a decade or two ago, despite the huge advances in bike tech. Mountain bikers today are lucky to have thousands of miles of machine-built, bike-specific, and flow trails to choose from, something that barely existed in the 1990s. At the same time, bikes are undoubtedly much more capable today than they were three decades ago.
So is mountain biking easier today or — gasp! — even more fun than it used to be? Back in the 1990s it was hard to imagine anything more fun than mountain biking; for me it was pure bliss. Looking back though, there were plenty of parts that weren’t fun like pinch flats, heavy bikes, awkward-handling angles and seat heights, and trails that often flowed like a clogged drain line. My vote? I’ll take 2021 mountain biking any day.
Sure, not every trail looked like the one in the 1990s photo, and not every trail today is a smooth flow track. And hardtail riders, either present or past, are no more hard core than anyone else. Still, you’ve gotta admit there’s enough truth and irony in the meme to at least let a small chuckle slip.
I’m mostly just stoked to see my old bike is still rolling along with the good times.
Updated to include new information about the possible creator of the meme.
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