Given the number of mountain bikers out there in the world combined with the population of cities the reality is that most mountain bikers live within the city. That ranges from the central city to the suburbs or even exurbs ... but most are in proximity to the city. Again, that could range from larger metro areas like Vancouver, BC (2.4 million metro) to smaller communities like Hood River (pop: 7,100) or Oakridge (pop: 3,200) here in Oregon. Then there are the "tweener" communities like Bellingham (pop: 85,000) that are either (a) "overgrown" towns or (b) small cities.
Mountain biking certainly carries with it a leaning towards all-things rural. I mean, we most often have to leave the city to go for a shred. Sure, some cities have trails on the outskirts and other communities have ample riding within the metro area (darn you). However, "backcountry excursions" and "cities" don't seem to always mix so easily. And yet again, many notable companies in the bike industry are found in larger cities (along with smaller communities).
So what do you do if you're a mountain biker living in the city ... and in particular larger cities?
Embrace the dichotomy. Become comfortable with the tension.
You see, most of us live in the city because of the access, opportunities, and amenities that cities offer. This ranges from a vibrant economy and abundant jobs, educational opportunities, and the life, culture, and entertainment in cities. But yet we love getting out and away into the backcountry. This is a dichotomy that most of us live with in a weekly basis. Sure, living in a remote cabin on the flank of some distance mountain sounds ideal. But for most of us we'd be bored after a week of chopping wood, feeding squirrels, and running 20 miles to the nearest store because you forgot a gallon of milk.
Most of us don't want one or the other ... we want both. We want to live this rurban lifestyle where we love and embrace everything that the cities offer and yet want to be within striking distance of losing ourselves in the backcountry not simply on weekends, but for an after-work ride.
While those of us living in the cities notice or feel that tension the best thing to do is not fight it, but embrace it. It is time to put on your skinny jeans along with your redneck flannel. Embrace the tension. Live with the paradox.