2020 and the state of the sport


During the festive season a mate penned a couple of articles for the local paper.

These got us thinking about the state of our sport from where we sit… and it is amazing. And confusing, in equal measures.

Graeme’s weekly mountain biking column in a daily newspaper, for a start. That would have seemed very unlikely to a younger me, when I wheelied out of a bike shop on my first mountain bike 35 years ago. 

There were no magazines around to help us figure out what we were supposed to be doing on these things. 

Today we are swamped with imagery and inspiration, but it doesn’t necessarily represent reality. 

The latest edition of a magazine arrived over the holidays, and to my eye all but one of the double page spreads at the start were the same photo: three quarter front image of a dude striking a pose, a metre or so off the ground. 

Anybody idling though the mag in the checkout line would think that is mountain biking. Anybody watching me on a trail would get an entirely different impression. 

And I'm not representative of the huge number of people who have gotten into the sport in the last few years, they will be doing something different again. 

Over the break we went and rode the Timber Trail - another sign of the times, a government-funded point-to-point ride in a fairly remote location that supports a raft of businesses.

We were all reasonably seasoned riders, enjoying the location, and the outing, as much as the trail itself, which is fairly pedestrian. Literally pedestrian to be fair, it’s dual use.

One of our mates is a talented photographer and if he sees an image and says let’s stop, we do. 

Stopping often, then turning for home after 22kms, let us see an amazing number of fellow Timber Trailers. Another noteworthy thing: remote trail, amazing number of riders.

The typical modern mountain biker? Who knows? We saw state-of-the-art young pinners, well-equipped middle-aged couples, nature-lovers on e-bikes, bike packers a quarter of the way from North Cape to Bluff.

We saw an old couple on e-commuter bikes, and we seriously hope their batteries got them where they were headed. 

We passed a young couple on basic hardtails, with a two-year-old mounted to mum’s top tube. 

Twenty kilometres in either direction from any type of civilisation, and a fair old hike to the nearest cell phone reception. 

What could possibly go wrong?

They struck me as a result of the flipside of the aforementioned flying dudes illusions: I guess they had seen images like the one at top of the page and thought hey! We can do that! Lets take the baby!

The reality could be so different.

But they were out there, and so were the flying dudes, and so were we.

And as far as we know, it all went OK.