-mbuk.com forum
mtb rivalry
You've got to love internet forums. As technology unfolds to create a truly global community within the reach of everyone, the net unites people from every corner of the globe, every walk of life, race,colour and creed.
Then they all call eachother tw*ts.

I guess it's the anonymity, but chat forums bring out the worst in everyone. The ability to insult someone and not get punched for it is very liberating. And very few places demonstrate this behaviour more clearly than mountain bike forums.

Technology brings new opportunities but it's an old rivalry that's being displayed. Like a thousand-year-old feud settled with a laser-guided warhead, the method may be new but the arguments go way back.

I've never quite understood it, but different kinds of riders always seem to dislike the other kind. To a downhiller, XC riders all shave their legs, are only happy when they ride uphill and are attracted to their own sex. To a cross country rider, DH'ers are all fat, push their bikes everywhere and are attracted to their own sex. It's a generalisation, but to some extent every rider I've ever known, heard of or read about considers their branch of the sport the best. And don't thing 'freeriders' are any different- they just insult anyone who doesn't do everything!

This rivalry is odd. True, healthy rivalry is great- it's what makes those end of ride races with your mates such a buzz; it's what makes you want to jump higher or drop off bigger to go better than the people you ride with. You need to feel that desire to be better or you'd never ride faster, higher or bigger. But when you turn that against people you don't compete with, it stops being healthy and turns plain nasty.

To you and me, telling a Trials rider from a DH'er would be obvious. But how do you think all mountain bikers look to non-riders? Can that bloke and his dog make the subtle distinction between Fox armoured DH shorts and Cannondale freeride shorts? I should coco- to him, we're all the same.

What he does with that depends entirely on the person. To some, we're damn cool. To others, our (in some cases perceived) fitness is a source of great envy. But to far too many, we're a pain in the arse.

This isn't deserved. Don't get me wrong, I know there are idiots out there buzzing past people, scaring horses and endangering families on Sunday walks, but they really are the exception and they really should be focus for all this hate. In my experience, mountain bikers are some of the most clued-up people when it comes to respecting the countryside. The minute you're faintly serious about riding you realise how much you need it, how much you'd miss those hills if you couldn't ride them- up or down them. We don't leave gates open, we don't skid on soft ground, we slow down for horses and we abandon downhill blasts at the sight of walkers 500 paces away. I don't think this is an idealistic, rose-tinted Oakley view on my part; it's what I've seen in well over ten years mountain biking.

The minority of trail-twats give us a bad name which we really don't deserve. Shortly after 'dangerous' on Joe Public's list of mtb adjectives comes 'destructive'. We are apparently responsible for ruining the countryside. Well, if you gouge ruts in mud and pull down plants and trees then you're not helping. The reality is, though, that we are not the worst offenders.
Walkers do the most damage- just by their sheer number. Four-Wheel-Drives come next, because they butcher the earth beneath them despite their relatively small number. 4x4s are followed horses, because there are lots of them and they have a reasonable impact on the ground. After all these come mountain bikers. We're right up there because of our similarly high number to horses, but in terms of destruction, we're small fry.

We're a scapegoat, and that's why I mention these statistics. Personally- I don't care. It's the country, not a museum and everyone should be free to use it respectfully. But far too many people lazily consider us the enemy. Dog walkers seem to resent our very existence- but I've never taken my bike up the woods so it could crap in the middle of a path.

Next time you see someone doing something different to you on a bike, don't think about whether they could handle a manic descent like you on their 22lb racing whippet- think about whether they're making mountain bikers look bad. If they're riding with respect and care, they really can't be that shabby. If they're dropping litter, bunny hopping real bunnies or riding into people they're really the ones you should be insulting, because they're the ones who'll get you banned from your local riding spot, get you evil looks from non-riders you've never met, and stop us all being taken seriously.