Why do you ride? It’s one thing as a cycling coach, mountain biker, and all-round navel gazer that I ask people, and myself, with great regularity.
There are a myriad of reasons why people cycle, some more complex than others, but a common theme when prompted is the enduring love of the outdoors and nature.
Regardless of whether the other reasons are competition, health (physical and mental), identity, mastery; if you don’t love banging around in the bush it’s unlikely you would have found mountain biking as a passion within your life.
But why do we, as humans and mountain bikers, find ourselves turning to nature?
It’s something bigger than we are
Whether you’re a believer in a deity or not, having something out there that’s bigger than us serves to ground us and can aid in minimising whatever woes are perplexing us. While we now have the technology to video-chat someone across the world in real time, suspension that’s electronic and robots to vacuum our floors; we have no way of controlling the weather and, to an extent, the very foundation of the land we exist on.
In an increasingly secular society, we have collectively developed quite an insular, liberalist mindset, whereby we fail to grasp the broader scope of the world. It’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of you; the microcosm of self and those tightly knitted around you.
Getting out and close to nature allows us to marvel at wise-old trees that have survived multiple generations, get bathed in an unplanned rain storm and nearly blown off our bikes at the top of a windy peak. Outside, in essence, reminds us how small we are and gives us a sense of contentment that there is something bigger than us at play.
The visceral realness of outside
In a world of smartphones and instant connectivity, where many of us earn an income by sitting with bad posture squinting at a computer screen, nature provides us with an experience that is real and sensory in a world of flat screens and Bitcoin.
Touching the bark of a tree, running our hands through soil (or even our body…should we find the limit in our adventures!), the sound of a whip bird and smell of the bush in the rain. These are all experiences that we are unable to attain in the indoor environment and act to ground us in immediate ‘real’ness.
Some of the best rides are one that endure past the shredding, your crew sits around on the rocky dirt until it’s dark having beers in the forest, or jumps into a nearby waterhole to cool down. It’s the extension of our indoor selves into the visceral realness of the bush or forest that can be so different from the rest of our lives.
A break from routine
As mentioned, we spend much of our lives connected to technology. If you’re reading this it’s likely you have already found the golden ticket and have a love for the outdoors. While it’s easy to continue to live in the city, hitting targets and deadlines and crunching numbers; whatever your job may entail it’s a sense of ‘really living’ that being outside on two wheels gives us. If you want to crunch numbers on the weekend and the weekday, buy yourself a road bike and a power meter or go crunch me miles on a treadmill inside a gym; yuck!
We buy into the predicability of the everyday, but nature is a force unto it’s own and is often random and unpredictable.
Outside scales back this importance of the minutiae of everyday and offers new perspectives…a break in nature can allow the mind to wander and time for creative, independent thought to bloom!
So why do you love to ride? What is it about being outside keeps you going back to the trails again and again?
Words: Anna Beck Photo: Robert Conroy