When you get right down to it, there are really only a handful of reasons to ride mountain bikes: It’s fun as hell, it's good for you, and it gives you a reason to hang out with the coolest people on the planet.
It should be done only out of love, because few people will ever have the legs and lungs to do it for any other reason. It'll never earn us a living. Most of us buy our own bikes, pay our own race-entry fees and fork over the money when it’s time to replace the shit we break. That’s just how it works.
There are a few amateur riders here and there who manage to bag a sponsorship or two, and good for them. But except for a very tiny number of people who turn it into a job, a sponsorship means little more than some free stuff. Nothin’ wrong with free stuff. I'd love some.
But I wouldn’t get on my knees for it. I wouldn't lie for it. And I wouldn't let a sponsor lie for it.
What’s your integrity worth? What price would you put on dignity?
Would you sell it for a stem? A handlebar?
Probably not. Most likely, you'd quit riding before you'd show up at a start line stripped of what really counts.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter if you never win a race in your entire life. The only things that count are the ride and the people you ride with.