Who We Are

Who We Are Issue 13.3

For those of us who’ve been mountain biking for two, three or even four decades, the sport of today has progressed far beyond our wildest imaginations.

When I threw a leg over my fully rigid Bridgestone MB-4 Trailblazer in 1989 and stumbled onto my first stretch of singletrack, I could never have conceived what mountain biking would look like in 2022.

At that time, the sport had certainly evolved from the seminal days of klunkers bombing down fireroads, but the notion of trails designed specifically for mountain bikes was fairly new. Most riders back then cut their teeth on hiking trails and animal tracks, eventually venturing deeper into the hills to hack out what were usually fall-line slivers of carnage.

The learning curve was steep and intimidating, and most riders operated quietly in the shadows of the forest. It was, at best, a fringe activity. If you’d told any of us that mountain biking would someday become a mainstream pastime for the whole family—one that would attract countless millions of dollars for the construction of legal trails all over the world—we would have laughed with incredulity.

These days we’re laughing jubilantly, with perhaps a tinge of disbelief, over just how far we’ve come. Mountain bikers have established strong relationships with land managers, municipalities and even conservation groups to produce sustainable new trails in communities throughout North America. The advent of the flow trail, together with quantum leaps in bike technology, have dras- tically lowered the entry barrier. Tens of millions now identify themselves as mountain bikers, and this is surely just the tip of the iceberg.

This edition of Freehub, along with our new “Biketown” film, commemorate the steady progress we’ve made over the last several decades and point to a future in which bike trails will be as com- monplace as football fields, basketball courts and baseball diamonds. Kids from all backgrounds will grow up riding skills parks and singletrack networks near their homes, and communities will increasingly structure their economies around the outdoor pursuits that multi-use trails engender.

In our “Pedal to the People” feature, we examine how towns across the United States are con- verting abandoned lots into pumptracks and investing government funds in professionally built trails on both public and private land. In “Realms of Reality,” we explore how YouTube celebrity Seth Alvo has parlayed the generous support of his channel’s subscribers into the creation of a brand-new bike park through an ingenious partnership with a small city, bike companies and a consortium of forward-thinking conservation groups.

These advancements might blow the minds of mountain biking’s pioneers, whose reputations have been transformed from those of renegades to inspired visionaries. But as generations come of age in a culture that revolves around bikes and trails, it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll be two, three or four decades from now. I’m guessing we’ll still be laughing.

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