It hit me recently that I share a lot of commonalities with my sons in terms of how they grew up and what kinds of entertainment was available. While I'd say that having an Atari or Commodore 64 is a far cry from amped up PCs and Xbox systems at the core they are the same ... gaming consoles. While Fortnite is a vastly better gaming experience today than playing Frogger or Pitfall on Atari there are more similarities than differences. I remember hot and humid summers after being outside all day coming in the house to game. Same concept, but what has drastically changed is technology. However, I didn't enjoy the experience any less than my sons do now.
The same with mountain biking.
Most of us had crappy mountain bikes as kids, but that's all we had and that's all we knew. I remember in the early 90s in college riding my Diamondback fully rigid mountain bike over what I thought was "gnarly" terrain. It was fun, exhilarating, and kept me wanting more. I wasn't concerned with how much travel my bike had ... well, because it didn't have any other than the flex in my knees and elbows. The feelings and experiences I had were incredible.
Since then, I've had too many bikes to count or remember. While technology has certainly advanced I can't really say whether my feelings or experiences have changed. In other words, simply because my bikes today are better it doesn't mean all of a sudden my experiences out on the trail are vastly superior. With that said, I'm also not hucking myself off cliffs or clearing 40 foot gaps. Point taken.
With that in mind, I see parallels. Gaming as a kid was a fun experience and I really don't think it was less enjoyable than the experiences of my sons now. Sure the tech was significantly inferior and the graphics on Atari games pale in comparison, but it was a blast. The same is when I had a sick BMX bike as a kid (heavy as a tank) jumping off plywood ramps in the front yard or riding my fully rigid Diamondback in college ... I had just as much fun as I do on the trail today. I even entered my first race with that mountain bike and got 24th out of 150 riders on a 24 mile course.
The point? Sometimes we're caught up in the insatiable thirst and hunger for more ... better bikes with new tech like coils made out of Wolverine's adamantium, a new "innovative" tread pattern on our tires, or those grips that are "game changers." Again, like new computers or gaming systems, I'm not against them by any stretch. It's just that sometimes we need to come back too our senses and ask whether keeping up all of the time on the tech arms race makes mountain biking more enjoyable.
Only you can answer it.
No, I'm not saying I want to go back to my Atari (although that would be retro cool now) or my rigid Diamondback. But I am mindful that none of those things really have any impact on the enjoyment of riding.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photo by Robin Munshaw