YEAR IN REVIEW
Best Of 2018 - Andrew's List
Tuesday Night Lights
Have it all. Work, family, and mountain biking. There are 24hrs in a day and a coffee shop on every corner. I'm quite comfortable being 'Alone. In The Dark' but if you're not, then take that friend who keeps whingeing about having no time to ride, grab them by the bib shorts, and drag them out for a rip.
The cost of entry is less than two good tires. Buy a Bontrager Ion Pro, a helmet mount, and a Petzl* and go out and ride your socks off. Yeah, you might go crazy for it, buy a second light, and hit double-blacks on rainy February nights. You may also just go cruise gravel laps for fitness. Just get out there and ride.
*In case you crash-and-trash or forget to charge your light.
Make it a date. Rain or shine. Hike-a-bike through the snow. Drink a beer on the ride, or don't. The woods are beautiful on a dry, cold, night. Lame jokes are hysterical when you're practicing good-light-management on a torrential night when it seems that even your brake levers are saturated.
Having a regular Tuesday night ride again has been my riding highlight of 2018. The most contemptible night on a mountain bike is like walking on sunshine.
Wrenching With Kids
If you don't like kids scroll down. If you don't have kids, or your kids are old and/or boring, this is your chance to really shine because not only can you totally make your day, and a kids day, but you can gift their parents enough time to get out for a ride in the process. So. Much. Winning.
In any event, there's no better way to solidify your own mechanical skills than in helping someone else develop theirs and I think that goes double if that someone is a kid. The reward goes beyond tightening some bolts because they're going to grow up to not be completely useless with the tools and you get to be part of that.
Bikes are a great gateway into working on all sorts of things.
Plan your projects. Anything with big tools like headset or bearing presses and tools with ratchets are winners. Fine tuning saddle tilt for two hours, not so much.
Don't have space or the tools? Locally I recommend booking a Bench Time slot at BikeRoom. There's a mechanic on hand if you get in over your head and there's a toy box and clean corner if your little helper needs a break. Keep it fun and keep the time investment in line with their attention span and everyone will have a great time.
Two pieces of gear really surprised me this year. I would have laughed if you'd told me on January 1st, 2018 that this is the year I'd start regularly riding in pants and wearing a skid-lid.
I won't go into great detail as I've linked to both the Race Face Agent pants and the Kali Viva helmet in the respective photo captions, but suffice it to say that when it comes to gear reviews in 2019 I've got my fingers crossed for more unexpected treasures.
I get some regular correspondence asking if I still recommend product X or Y that I've reviewed positively in the past. Fair enough, I think everyone - myself included - is free to evolve their opinions but at the same time if companies aren't releasing a 'new' version of their product every year it's easy for quality stuff to get lost in all the noise.
The best product for 2018 are ones I'm using every single week without any desire for a replacement and here are a select few that weren't new in 2018 that I think are worthy.
"They should really fix this trail!" - ∞ Riders
Be their name Karen, or Peter, or Penny, or Brian, or Vic, or Judy, or Steve, and etc, I've often heard it said that "they know who they are."
And if I'm not the lead singer of their tribute band, I'm definitely doing the brown nose with the rest of the chorus.
It goes without saying that the trail builders and associations that keep trails open and in great shape should be on every bike rider's, writer's, and company's Best Of list every year. It just sometimes goes without saying for too long, so thank you very, very much for another amazing year of trails.
They are always recruiting and the only job requirement is a passion for mountain biking. Please contact your local trail association to find out more.
The quality of comments and conversations attached to NSMB articles this year was sensational. From the serious debates to fleshed out questions, to solid injections of humour I really enjoyed reading and interacting with so many contributors.
I'm very much looking forward to a lot more of that in 2019.
Happy New Year!
If I can leave our secret little mountain bike Og for a moment, I'm fortunate to have the love of my friends and family to help me drag my sh*t into 2019, and I truly hope that you are too. We all know the holidays are a hard time for many folks and perhaps even more so as we come down from the highs of the season into the dreary doldrums that can follow.
If someone you know seems particularly down please reach out to them, resources are a Google search away if you need some help making it happen. If you're feeling down and can't shake it with a good bike ride then please, please reach out. The self-made-person is an endlessly perpetuated myth but in fact its utter bullsh*t. There isn't a person alive who does it on their own and none of us is an exception.
2019 is here and the word of the year is Empathy.