As we're smack dab in the middle of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the shopping spree known as Christmas there are articles upon articles that decry our over-consumption. This time of the year brings out this madness. Look sweetie, a new Lexus! This weekend in particular brings out the worst in the human race as ordinary grandmothers-turned-professional-wrestlers give forearm shivers to unlucky shoppers who're about to grab that microwave she was reaching for.
I get it. It ticks us off. We see a lot of ugliness and the flurry of articles seeking to push back this darkness into the abyss where it came from are spot-on and needed reminders. However, there is another way of looking at this as well.
Let's look at the flip side of this conversation. No, it's not giving you permission to consume more. Instead, for those of us eyeing new bikes, bike parts, and gear it can and should hopefully mean only one thing ... that we're getting out and riding more. That's actually a good thing.
But more than that, where do we actually spend a lot of our time riding? The answer to that geographic question then in turn has economic ramifications. I'm guessing that a lot of you already know this, but when you load up your bike (and your crew's bikes as well) on your North Shore rack and head out to ride most often you're traveling to and through small towns. For those of us in Portland when we want to play in the dirt we drive away from the city and through numerous towns. Along the way we stop for burritos, snacks, coffee, and other essentials. Meaning, the more we ride the more we invest in local economies. In some cases these communities rely heavily upon you to visit and ride, stay in motels, eat and drink at local establishments, pick up spare parts at the local bike shop, and so much more.
While this article isn't meant to be a data dump on the exact amounts that mountain bikers pour into local economies on a daily basis, it is a simple reminder that you do make an investment when you ride.
This weekend I took my family to the coast to play. While I didn't bring my bike and ride so much of the ideas of this article were swirling in my head as we drove the small town after small town. We stopped lots to eat, get snacks, grab coffee at the local coffee roaster, buy tickets to see old airplanes, enjoy a hot chocolate after walking along the beach in the rain and whipping winds, and so much more.
This was no act of charity. Locals work their tails off to build businesses and make end meets. They provide services or amenities (like coffee) that we gladly buy, tip the barista well, and then enjoy. There is the sense of reciprocity or mutuality. We're actually helping each other out. That's the key or point of this whole article. By the mere act of heading out to do something seemingly selfish like ride our sweet bikes, we're actually helping to uphold and sustain communities along the way. I don't mean that in some savior-complex way, but that in small unassuming ways when we bike we actually do invest.
My encouragement to you is to be mindful of this as you plan your next ride. Now get out and ride. Oh, and eat a burrito too while you're at it.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Ben Wurmser and Tina Gerber.