To the outside world mountain bikers are simply mountain bikers. We all look the same, act the same, ride the same bikes, dress the same, wear the same shoes, frequent the same websites, and even talk the same. You know and I know, and I know and you know ... that's utterly not true.
Mountain bikers are tribal. Viewed from the vantage point of a cultural anthropologist it would be an interesting case study to look into, research, and explore the various tribes or subcultures within mountain biking. Like uncovering lost tribes hidden away deep in the Amazon in the Brazilian interior I'm sure there are still mountain bike tribes out there yet to be discovered and classified. We have the "known" tribes ... downhillers, cross country riders, cyclocross fanatics, bikepackers, dirt jumpers, singlespeeders, rigid singlespeeders, fixie rigid singlespeeders, enduro, the bikepark-only crowd ("I only ride park"), klunkers, and you get the point. While there are obvious overlaps between them my hunch is you belong to one to two tribes, maybe three.
The fun part is when you belong to one tribe and then attempt to join and ride with another. You not only need a new bike, but a new wardrobe, helmet, shoes, and even lexicon. A singlespeed cross country racer tries out downhilling for a day at a bike park is bound to be in for a shocker. Probably not as much as a lift-assist-obsessed bike park downhiller trying out cross country riding for a day. Wait, pedal??? Pedal UP hills???? What the ...
Interestingly though is how this conversation intersects with Loam Coffee. I'm sure it's pretty obvious who and what we lean towards, but our hope is it doesn't mean we're exclusive to any mountain bike tribe by any means. While we certainly lean into all-things the PNW freeride scene (lots of plaid, bike bikes, etc) it doesn't mean that's only who were are. By the way, I ride an XC bike myself currently. I've heard from some of you at events and such who may say, "you guys aren't really into the XC crowd, are you?" Farthest from the truth! We'd like to believe that we're here for mountain bikers far and ride ... from blue jeans-wearing dirt jumpers to lycra-clad XCers.
To the known and unknown tribes of mountain bikers out there ... we're here for you. Why? Because we are you.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Cover photo by Peter Dyck.