When you think about it, we have all kinds of friends in our lives ... work friends, neighbor friends, family friends, club friends, soccer friends, school friends, gamer friends, and of course mountain bike friends. Even within your mountain bike friends there are all sorts of these smaller "friend circles" ... your chum around and ride friends, your hardcore cardio pedal-happy friends, your easy cruise / out of shape friends, your bikepacking friends, your XC friends, your CX friends, your downhill friends, your friends who push your limits on the trail where you go "I jumped off that???" and so many more.
This is what is called your squad. Or more aptly put ... your squads.
As a mountain biker over the years, like you, I've had many different squads. Singlespeed XC squad, mountain bike guide squad, 24-hour race squad, and more. When I first moved to Portland I connected with a downhill squad. The problem though, I came into town on my lightweight XC singlespeed. But I rode with them anyways on shuttled runs. It was a lot of fun.
I was thinking of all of this recently when I rode Post Canyon in Hood River with one of my squads. It was a chill ride despite the hour of climbing. We weren't in a hurry as we had just as much fun talking as riding. There were plenty of stops to chat and enjoy the views. I was grateful for that squad. Call it a post-40 year old with kids squad. Brown hairs turning gray squad. Tempering wisdom with enthusiasm squad.
We all need our squads. Again, we flit in and out of different ones over the course of the month depending where we're riding, what we're riding, and even who's available. At the end of the day it's about community, friendships, conversations, post-ride brews and wood-fired pizza, and more talking on the way home. Squads are what makes mountain biking special.
I've shared before that I do a lot of solo riding. Most often because it's a spur-of-the-moment decision and I just need to get out. They end of being more cardio- or workout-oriented and usually I look forward to the ride being over. However, when you're rollin' with your squad the experience is opposite. You want to ride more, ride longer, and do a lot more lingering.
Mountain biking is so much more than a good workout. If that's all we were looking for we'd be satisfied with spin classes at the gym. Instead, it is about community. About our squad(s). Mountain biking is just as much (or more) about a lifestyle and a people than it is about simply a sport.
Who are you rollin' with?
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Deanna Campbell.