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Drunk On Stoke

The Best Part of Mountain Biking is all the Parts

Words Cam McRae
Date Jun 5, 2020
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I’ve never had a complete break from mountain biking that wasn’t from injury. At least not since 1984. During university I didn’t ride very much because I was too wrapped up in the absolute hilarity of post secondary socializing and athletics (and occasionally classes or last minute cramming). Living near the Endowment Lands in Vancouver,* I had access to some great riding. In fact, before I got hooked on the North Shore in my final year, I thought it was fantastic. The vast majority of my first years of riding were spent crisscrossing this rabbits’ warren of trails surrounded by Burrard Inlet, The Strait of Georgia, and the Fraser River

*now called Pacific Spirit Park, the good trails have either been sanitized beyond recognition or closed in this massive urban wilderness on the edge of Point Grey

My then new wife and I spent my one other year of limited riding living in Genoa, not far from the Finale Liguria in Italy.* In 1998 then there wasn’t much mountain biking there and Trailforks didn’t yet exist. We didn’t find any trails designed and built by mountain bikers, but there were old hiking trails everywhere once you climbed out of the city and into the mountains directly above. We got out a few times and found some interesting descending and spectacular landscapes, riding the full rigid bikes we’d ridden from Hungary, but none of the rides called us back for more.

*one of the EWS sites that is on the calendar every year, if there was riding there then I didn’t catch wind of it

When I was more of a diehard snowboarder, the bike wouldn’t get much love in the winters. In the last 15 years I have ridden year round, whatever the weather. These days I probably ride more in the off-season than in July and August, when things get busier and I spend more time away from home.

Right now the prospect of leaving home, unless I’m going somewhere with incredible riding, is rather unappealing. If mountain biking was only half as fun as it has been lately, it would still be my number one outdoor activity by a wide margin. In fact, on my ride yesterday Graham and I got to the bottom of the trail and the experience was so ridiculously good that I felt a little bit selfish and entitled for enjoying something so much. Then I remembered I’m not Catholic and everything was fine.

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In the Chilcotins in 2014 near the end of a huge day with a crew from Rocky Mountain and Tribe Sport in France.

What got me thinking about this was running into an old buddy who used to ride. If you’ve been riding for a long time, you’ve probably had this happen. You may even know the categories. In my experience the biggest two reported reasons for stopping mountain biking are having kids (never sell your bike if this is in your future) or a big crash and injury, but there are others. Moving away somewhere with crappy trails or no trails is tough to argue with, but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any good reason, as was the case with my old buddy. And that’s fine. Nobody is required to be as obsessed with riding trails as I am, and it certainly doesn’t make me any better than they are; I just can’t imagine stopping unless I have to.

Unless it was unavoidable, and it is avoidable, I wouldn’t move somewhere without good trails. I’d head to Nelson New Zealand or Finale in a heartbeat, or other places with A-list trails. Which boils it down to this: I don’t think there is a scenario that isn’t health-related that would keep me off singletrack.

I would love to one day be one of those epic characters in their 80s who continues to ride hard, or who at least continues to enjoy riding. This is what motivates me to occasionally live a healthy lifestyle.

The actual best part is that I don’t know what the best part is. I can’t point to a single element that keeps me coming back more than the others because there are so many that are so good. Feeding off my bros is obviously high on the list, as well as post (mid?) ride beers, trash talking, and shenanigans. Forest bathing recharges the cockles of my cockle and my appreciation for the wonders of nature continues to grow. The trails have become even more of a tractor beam lately because I’ve been learning some things and progressing. I also happen to really love bikes and my stoke for tweaking and maintaining and overhauling has resurfaced with renewed vigor lately. Beautifully built trails that compel me to ride moves I didn’t know I could ride, are way up there of course.* I even have a self-serving, unexamined, and mostly intuition-based theory that adrenaline is, in fact, the fountain of youth.

*The trailbuilders on the North Shore have been killing it lately

You may be getting the point. I won’t go as far as the late Wild Bill Meier, a New York bike courier who said, “the day I can’t ride a bike better be the day I’m fucking dead,” but I’ll be riding for as long as I’m able.*

*Note - if this article seems a little like one I wrote last year, you'll have to forgive me - it seems I'm drunk on stoke

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Age - 54

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 165lbs/75kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 33"/84cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 770mm

Preferred Reach - 475-490mm

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Comments

bailey100
+4 Cam McRae Niels Pete Roggeman IslandLife
william bailey  - June 5, 2020, 3:05 p.m.

My biggest regret is the many years riding dirt bikes instead of mountain bikes. 

At 57, having ridden for the past 10 years it just keeps getting better. 

Believe in the stoke, it's real and it keep us young in heart and mind. I have no intention of quitting anytime soon,

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+3 william bailey Pete Roggeman IslandLife
Cam McRae  - June 5, 2020, 6:42 p.m.

I love hearing that!

Reply

Waterdnddc
+4 william bailey Niels Pete Roggeman IslandLife
Waterdnddc  - June 6, 2020, 5:29 a.m.

At 67 I have few regrets but one is that I did not discover Mtn biking until I was 57 - been riding ever since every chance I get - makes me feel 12 again - except when I fail LOL

Reply

BigSmokey
+4 Niels william bailey Pete Roggeman IslandLife
BigSmokey  - June 6, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

It’s been a few years since I’ve really got to ride. I just got my new bike Thursday and took it Friday and it was the greatest feeling to be out again, I’m 56 and love riding with my son and daughter.

Reply

otagoboy
+5 william bailey Cam McRae Niels Pete Roggeman IslandLife
otagoboy  - June 6, 2020, 12:41 a.m.

Though primarily a runner, I've been hitting the singletrack since 1991, from Edmonton, Calgary and Banff and now back home in Dunedin New Zealand. At 60 years old I'm trying to learn to jump properly and handle the double black enduro lines after years of XC bikes. Got me Yeti SB5C and Zerode so can't blame the equipment! 

The speed, the freedom, the company (or not) just makes every day worthwhile. I too aim to be pinning it into my 80s, health permitting. 

And I want to be reading NSMB 'til the then, so keep up the great work.

Reply

Vikb
+5 Cam McRae william bailey Niels Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - June 6, 2020, 7:52 a.m.

I've been riding bikes my whole life. I can't see stopping until I can no longer turn my legs. I'm 51 and hope to get another 20+ years on the dirt, but I appreciate it's a limited time opportunity so I am trying to make the most of it when I can. I left home on my mountain bike yesterday morning and came back 8hrs later when the hunger got too strong. 

At some point I'll have to switch to the road only and then maybe one of those recumbent trikes, but whatever it takes as long as I can pedal I'll be out there riding something!

Reply

Hollytron
+6 Andy Eunson Cam McRae william bailey Mammal Pete Roggeman IslandLife
Hollytron  - June 6, 2020, 8:49 a.m.

Doctors are seeing more and more bros suffering from accute over-stoke. That's why we've created a revolutionary treatment called Bro-tamp. If you find yourself starting each sentence recalling a corner or feature and involuntarily raising a hand for high-fives in your sleep ask your doctor and find out if bro-tamp is right for you. 

Side effects include excessively clean drivetrains and obsessive analysis of suspension graphs. Do not use bro-tamp to reduce the size if your positive spring or if you have been using CBD aka fake weed.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 IslandLife
Pete Roggeman  - June 9, 2020, 8:02 a.m.

This is the best comment of the week.

Reply

Shoreloamer
+4 Cam McRae william bailey Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman
Greg Bly  - June 6, 2020, 12:40 p.m.

The pedal bike is the catalyst for adventure and personal challenge. And we get to geek out on hi teck stuff .  We are lured by that new and improved part . We are excited to discover the new trail or zone for riding.  Perhaps every other sport is constricted by the rules of what is defining the sport. Mountain biking was spawned out of the desire to have personal Adventure with the marvel of human power combined with human Ingenuity.  You can have just as much fun on a fat bike as a full sus slack and low rocket. We have diverse variety in bikes and flavour of trails . Big , small , fat , thin , old , young no matter who you are your invited into the culture of cycling.  

Cycling is the celebration of human power. Cam,  I too can't put my finger on it but when I'm pedaling , sucking in fresh air , muscles pumping I feel alive. Reboots my spirit. 

Maybe it's an addiction . My bikes gets me high😁

Thanks for less teck talk and more sharing of what makes this sport great.

Reply

skooks
+1 Pete Roggeman
Skooks  - June 6, 2020, 8:25 p.m.

That was great Cam, thanks for writing it. I think there is a word for that feeling you are describing. Joy. 

I am 59 and appreciate every day I get out on my bike. None of us know how long we will have that ability. There is something special about a ride with friends/family, and the post-ride beer never tasted sweeter.

Reply

cxfahrer
+1 Pete Roggeman
cxfahrer  - June 6, 2020, 11:27 p.m.

After two rides that were about 5hrs each I am suffering a kind of overflow. I literally tasted the smell of those trails even some days later, and the imagination of going for the next ride was so real I could not bear it. Have to recover by slowly riding the easisest trails with very little emphasis.

That's what happens when living for 25 years in the same place, you have ridden everything around over and over again, all year round. At some point one wonders whether one is becoming a part of the land, going round in circles over and over. Riding more technical did not change that. Occasional trips to bikeparks or more far off places like Finale or LaPalma helped for the moment.

I dont want to become 80 still riding in circles like a hamster in bis cage. I could imagine starting doing something completely different still...but probably wont. Maybe I would become sick If I stop it and become ill for the next 20 years...? It is raining outside.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - June 10, 2020, 7:24 p.m.

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