A guy I know—who isn’t a rider—forwarded this video to me and a couple of other mountain-biker friends, and asked, “What are these guys thinking?”
I couldn’t come up with much of a reply. Because while there’s a shit-ton of bold riding on display, there isn’t much evidence that these guys are doing a lot of thinking. Not the long-term kind, anyway.
We’ve all played the game of comparing wounds and scars over a couple of post-ride beers, but most of us strive to limit injuries to the category of cuts, scrapes and bruises. (OK, maybe a concussion here and there, but I’m trying to quit.) When guys in their teens and 20s rack up long lists of the bones they’ve broken, they’re really making an inventory of the orthopedic nightmare that awaits them later in life.
Ever meet a 50-year-old who fractured multiple bones and wrecked both knees in his 20s? It ain’t pretty. If you don't believe me, do a few Google searches and read about all the retired NFL players who are permanently disabled. A lot of freeriders are going to end up in the same boat, and by middle age, their mountain-biking days will be behind him. And that’s a shame because, if you do it right, bicycling is a sport most people can do well into old age.
Like anyone else, I get a kick out of watching videos of young dudes hucking off cliffs and landing huge jumps, but I cringe a bit when I think about little kids seeing such footage and thinking they’d like to be like those guys when they grow up.
I got my inspiration 18 years ago, on the only day I ever rode up a ski lift just to ride my bike back down. “Lift-served” riding was a new idea, and far from polished, so when my buddy and I reached the top of Sandia Peak, we had to wait a few minutes for our bikes to join us.
As we waited, a guy who must have been 68 or 70 years old jump off the chairlift wearing a T-shirt and denim shorts. When his bike arrived, he got a huge, shit-eatin’ grin on his face, then spryly jumped on and steered it down the hill.
When I grow up, I want to be that guy.