It’s been said that mountain biking is currently in a “golden age.” In this episode of the Singletracks podcast, we debate whether that’s really true and speculate about what might be coming next.

# Comments

  • mongwolf

    Two thoughts from the podcast both of which relate a little to one another. In terms of young people staying involved in the sport in college, I think parents can have a positive influence on their young adult children even while in college. My wife and I have tried to keep our sons riding and rock climbing through the lean challenging years as they try to get established in life. We focus their Christmas and birthday gifts on biking, climbing and camping. We also encourage them to get out and ride and climb. And when we get family time together, we plan outings and rides during those times. The boys are always appreciative of my wife and my efforts to lead in this way.

    Secondly, I wonder if the decrease in sales and riders etc. across the industry and sport is because of the economy. With 94 million able citizens who could and should be working but are not, that puts a really strong downward pressure on recreational activity, especially expensive activities like mtb. There is a large segment of our population that simply can’t afford to invest in biking. The economy has been bad for years. So a much smaller portion of the population has the discretionary funds to get into biking.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      @mongwolf thanks, as always, for listening and for your comment.

      Apart from the financial aspect of trying to ride while in school, there are also just so many other things vying for your time. It’s not surprising then that some people drop the sport. And, you may get introduced to a new sport/hobby/passion while in school.

      To your second point, the 94 million number is missing some context. There are indeed that many people who are not working, but what you neglect to mention is that the figure includes: retired people (so they’re done working), college students, high school students over the age of 16, people with a disability that prevents them from working, stay-at-home parents, and even those that are independently wealthy (i.e. rich kids).

    • mongwolf

      Thanks Aaron. I did some follow up reading. Fair points.

  • mongwolf

    Also, Greg (or Aaron or Jeff), do any of you know of a resource that shows the current trails at Coldwater Mountain? Greg mentioned that it was up to 40 miles now. I hope to ride there this fall.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      Boom! http://neaba.net/assets/mapanddirectionscwm_20oct.pdf

      That’s the local trail organization and they are good about updating this map. You may want to visit their homepage before your visit to see if there have been any changes.

      When you ride there, I would recommend parking at the Anniston trailhead. That way, you get to finish with a long downhill (3-4 miles) back to the car. And also, if you ride it from Anniston you’ll hit Bomb Dog (the crown jewel) earlier in the ride when you’ll be fresher and enjoy it more.

  • Jim Klaas

    Golden age of trail building for sure!! In the last few years I have noticed a dramatic shift in trail building. More and more trails are looking less and less engineered and more and more natural. Capt. Ahab is engineered but it doesn’t feel that way or look that way. The more and more the trail feels and looks natural the more I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong…I love all the stunts and flow trails and I ride them all the time, but they feel like a climbing gym and not like an adventure into the wilderness.

    Comments about college made me think back to my days in college. The entire Penn State campus was a playground on my Ross Mt Whiteny (did I just date myself)…HA! Most college dorms don’t allow bikes inside and leaving a bike that is probably worth more than my car locked to a lamppost isn’t going to happen. That is a problem for sure.

    I noticed the first big hit to numbers about the time clipless pedals came online. It was the new must have item. Almost overnight you went from having a bike you could jump on and ride to class, go downtown, or hit the trails, to having to change your shoes to do anything. All of a sudden the bike became more hassle to ride than just taking the stupid car.

    All the other points raised are spot on…cost, time, how complex bikes have gotten, what college kid can afford to maintain a bike? and how many know how or have even tried to bleed brakes, maintain their forks etc…not only are bikes expensive buy but they are expensive to maintain. If I was in college now, I would probably be bashing around campus on a Surly steel frame, mechanical disc brakes, no suspension and having a BLAST!

    As always I really enjoy the podcasts.

    Jim Klaas
    Hood River

  • freewheeler

    I can relate to the comments about being spoilt for choice on mountain bike subtype options. I’m looking to get my second dual suspension bike having been back on a hard tail for the last few years. Going into a shop, you typically get asked what sort of riding do you do? or what sort of bike do you want? Well just a mountain bike for mountain biking please, is not an answer any more. I think it’s somewhat positive that bikes are starting to be defined by their travel distance, but you have to stay up with what the trends are there too.

    On the other hand in my home continent of Australia, the proliferation of well built trails in so many places had had me saying that it is a bit of a golden age to be a mountain biker lately.

    I just wish I was younger and had more time on my hand to enjoy them now.

  • mongwolf

    A very belated thanks Aaron for the reply about Cold Mountain. I missed it till just now. And great comment Jim about what bike you would probably be riding if you were in college right now. =)

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