The Joy of Mountain Biking

Recently, I had the chance to poke around Mike’s Team Active Bikes and learn a bit more about what gets people into mountain biking, and why they continue to do it.

The more experienced bikers I heard from talked about how mountain biking has recently been getting more and more popular. A lot of the talk was in comparison to city or road biking, where most of them started out. Simply put, they said “[road] is scarier than mountain biking.” It came out as clarifying a misconception, something people got into their heads that wasn’t necessarily true anymore. While road bikers have a million different moving hazards to worry about while they’re moving—a car, a pedestrian, and so on—mountain bikers really only have to focus in themselves and the path beneath them.

Mountain biking does present its own set of hazards and risks, but from what I heard, trails aren’t nearly as bad as they’re made out to be, and the experience definitely makes it worth trying for the first time. While they did mention that a certain level of caution is important out on the trail, once they got into a conversation about their favorite sections from the trails around Battle Creek, everything else was all but forgotten. They talked about the most challenging sections with a kind of reverence, some obstacle that was immensely satisfying to overcome, and kept them coming back to the trail to try over and over again. Once they get a taste of the trail, it seems, most people are instantly hooked on it.

Mountain biking in Michigan sounded all the better when most people told me that Southwest Michigan has some of the best trails in the world, offering a huge variety and having a low threshold for beginners, without the risk of barreling off a steep cliff, like most trails out in the western states.

Later, I also had a chance to interview Mike on the subject, and he gave a pretty good perspective on what gets people into mountain biking and what might hold them back. “The fear of unknown,” he called it, “thinking, oh, I can’t go that far, I can’t go that fast,” that’s what holds people back from trying or switching to mountain biking. Once they do their first ride, though, Mike believes that mountain biking changes peoples’ lives.

“Being healthy and exercising,” he says, “that’s not natural. Now playing, enjoying yourself? That’s natural. There are very, very few people who are going to eat healthy and exercise because it’s the right thing to do. If it’s fun, you’ll do it.” That said, I would have been hard pressed to find any mountain biker who walked through the store that day that wouldn’t have told me mountain biking is fun.

-Husam Beitello

Husam Beitello

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