Waki Designs

Dear Uncle Dave: All these kids are messing things up for me

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Aug 22, 2017

There was a moment last week where I got a bit confused, as fresh questions poured in like it was orientation day at the ice cream factory. I was pretty pumped that everybody was so excited to converse! “We’re giving away a fork” is what Pete had to say.

There you have it. I thought about denying you of your coveted fork in some way. But they’ll give the thing away, one way or another, so there is no point in fighting it. So here you go.

Dear Uncle Dave,

My wife is expecting, what to the best of my knowledge is, my third child sometime in the next few weeks. I'm essentially universally happy about this, despite being pretty familiar with what I'm going to be dealing with. That includes accepting I'm going to be riding even less than the very little I do now. Shit, with demands at home I spend so little time at work that I can barely justify stealing the time to write you for help now, let alone living vicariously through the experiences you guys share at NSMB.com. Can I even get away with pretending to be a mountain biker? If I was to say hello to you as you pass me riding up the fire road on Mt Fromme, would you shun me as some pathetic pretender trying to gain credibility through your fame in mountain bike media? It's not like I'll have any genuine stories containing epic climbs, descents, or killer race experiences to impress you with. While I feel comfortable in the motivation I have to ride as much as I can, does my willingness to accept compromise rule me out from being accepted, even socially, among the mountain biking elite?


Not hardcore enough.

Waki Designs

Illustration - Waki Designs

Dear Harko:

 You poor, delusional soul.

The entire time I was in University, I had this horrible feeling that I was missing something. Each year I learned more and more things that felt like they wouldn’t have much use to me in the future. I assumed that it was all leading somewhere, and at some point it was going to all come together in some magic, swirling moment of clarity. By the time I hit my final term in fourth year, I was starting to get pretty damn worried. The final months clicked away and it never materialized. Somehow, I managed to graduate without ever really figuring anything out.

I had the same thoughts once I started working. They gave me projects, and I waited around for a few days for somebody to explain what the hell was happening. They never did. So I just started poking around at stuff, making spreadsheets and writing on clipboards. It seemed to do the trick. Stuff got built. It didn't break. I bought new bikes. Win, win.

The same thing happened with my writing “career.” I remember the first thing that I actually wrote. I wandered into the office of the Discorder at UBC and I pitched them some idea of going to a show and writing them a sample review, which they could then use to determine if I was worthy of their time and interest. They were really confused. “Why don’t you just go to the show and write an actual review?”  This seemed bafflingly easy. Wrong, even.

Writing about bikes was kind of the same thing. I did a thing and then I wrote a thing and then I e-mailed a thing and then the thing sort of showed up online somewhere. All along the way I figured somebody would eventually point out that it kind of sucked and it wasn’t that interesting and they would use their wisdom and judgement to put a stop to it. But they never did.

And with all of this, I learned about life. I learned that the vast majority of people don’t really know what they’re doing. Your shit and how it should work are so far from their realm of concern that it’s a tiny bit sad and depressing. But...if you just show up and sort of act like you know what you’re doing, people are pretty much going to leave you alone and let you do it, because they’re far too worried about their own deception to think about yours.

I say this, because if you actually knew what was going on in the background with anything related to “mountain bike media”, you’d be incredibly dis-heartened and a little bit frightened. You think these people actually know what they’re doing? You think they actually know what they’re talking about? You think these things they say they are doing really happened, in a way at all related to what they wrote? My goodness friend, you can convince people of just about anything when you have a professional photographer in tow.

But hey. I hear you. I actually am one of those people that can get a little bit excited when a famous bicycling photographer strolls into the room. And there’s one or two writers that I’d be too nervous to share a beer with. But on the odd occasion that I have met people along these lines, it’s been, like the rest of life, a somewhat disappointing experience. Not that they are bad people or un-interesting or whatever…it’s just that it doesn’t take long to figure out that they are also pretty confused about things, and once you have that rug pulled out from under your feet it can be a bit disconcerting.

What I’m trying to say is that, unfortunately, we’ve all spent a large chunk of our lives poring over the rantings of a bunch of schlubs that just happen to be pretty good at pretending to know what the hell they are talking about. You think it’s nothing but globetrotting adventures, seeking out virgin singletrack on the hottest new bikes? You think those stories you read bare a resemblance to what actually happened? You think these people are anything other than skinny dudes with awkward little beer bellies who spend large chunks of their days worrying that they aren’t riding their bikes enough? I mean…there’s a few people out there that do get the cherriest rides and do seem to have nothing but time on their hands for epic rides (they’re called editors, I think). But it’s all an act, man! It’s pretend! Feeling jealous or worried or inadequate about these things is pointless and silly. We’re all just holding on for dear life, hoping that nobody notices. Like you will be in a few weeks when that extra kid shows up.


Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave’s Music Club

One thing there is never enough of in this world is shit that…I’m not going to say “rocks”…but shit that gets things going. We’ve got “pretty” coming out the ass. “Catchy” is easy. But “kickin’ shit up a notch” without resorting to volume, flames and guitar solos is a bit more tough. Sheer Mag is doing it for me lately.

And…holy crap…this is embarrassing…I didn’t know until this moment that they were fronted by a woman…this is definitely a thing for me lately. I mean…of course they are…but I mean…it also sounds a bit arbitrary, no?

And it even looks like they made an Uncle Dave fire extinguisher for this video! Cool!

Here's the good news Harko, as diapers, tears and barf loom on the horizon, this SR Suntour Axon Fork may cheer you up some. This fork is so new it's not even on the web site yet. You may not be able to use it much for a year or three, but at least you can go out to the garage and push down on the bars a few times. Send us an email to claim you prize.

The Prize!

SR Suntour AXON 34 29/27.5” RL-RC PCS

34mm stanchions 7000 series alloy ($700 USD Retail)

120/130mmm internally adjustable travel

RL-RC PCS ( Remote lock out, low speed and rebound compression)

Coil negative spring (tunable)

110 x15  QLOC2 Alloy Axle

Integrated fender and full fender attachment points

SR Suntour Axon

The AXON 34 29/27.5” RL-RC PCS has a sweet integrated fender! Removable of course. And a coil negative spring. 

If you think Uncle Dave will select your query from the mountain of excellent questions he gets (e-sarc alert) send him an email

Trending on NSMB


+1 Cam McRae
rvoi  - Aug. 22, 2017, 7:57 a.m.

Regardless of who you are, dreaming is a big part of being a mountain biker these days. What this guy really needs is time during the day to ride, but it's still a win... staring at this new fork by moonlight will improve his mountain bike fantasy life by at least 1,000 percent. He's back in the gang!


natbrown  - Aug. 22, 2017, 9:21 a.m.



+1 Geof Harries
Merwinn  - Aug. 22, 2017, 9:47 a.m.

"While I feel comfortable in the motivation I have to ride as much as I can, does my willingness to accept compromise rule me out from being accepted, even socially, among the mountain biking elite?"

Some will shun you, but that's because they don't have kids and can't relate. They have no idea how much work kids are. So be it. Others will hear "three kids" and understand how little time you truly have, and that you have only a small fraction of your own time for riding.

Aside form that given the costs of daycare, clothing, sports and periodic travel, I feel like I can barely afford one kid sometimes, so committing to three is impressive, IMO. Hats off. I invested in lights for rides after my kid gets to bed, which lately is pushing 10 PM. Little bugger. Then again , if Harko's on #3, he's probably been there, done that. May I suggest riding between 1 and 4 AM? If you're going to burn that candle. might as well periodically use a propane torch. Wink.


+1 ZigaK
Geof Harries  - Aug. 22, 2017, 10:10 a.m.

I've got three kids (ages 6, 11 and 13) so obviously have been where you are. Feels like forever ago now, which indicates that this period in your life will soon enough pass and you'll be back to riding more regularly. In the meantime, you just need to change your expectations, which for me meant simply commuting to work via bike and finding trails along the way. That became my outlet.

Those longer bike rides you used to enjoy are going to be even harder to come by, so you have to find satisfaction in other types of bike-related adventures. Riding at night is a possible solution, but when you're getting by with less than four hours of sleep every night, there's a pretty good chance you'll be smacking trees and falling off cliffs as you nod off on the downhills due to zombie-like fatigue. Best stick to the commuting option, in my opinion.


+1 Cameron Curtis
another_waki  - Aug. 22, 2017, 1:08 p.m.

As a father of 3 and a 5 year old I can feel the time for riding coming back. My advice would be to get to the gym, and focus on skills practice. The only riding related achievement I have from the period when my youngest was 0-3 was that I learned to wheelie and manual. And that boosted my riding to another level. I am back bettet than ever. At 36, I am still feeling like I am getting better and better each year. Gym doesn't have to be boring, get a good training program, set some goals, maybe get into street workout which is relatable to MTB because you can do tricks using your body weight and getting closer to making them is a great motivation to pump those muscles. Then you get on your bike, with hard muscles and you rip shit apart. That feeling of your torso being converyed into a hard plank, that becomes a second platform for the bike (after ground) - priceless. 

All the best daddy!


+1 Cameron Curtis
LWK  - Aug. 22, 2017, 2:54 p.m.

totally agree with this regarding fitness and skill practice.  I would also say who on earth cares if the "MTB elite" accept you????  what is an MTB elite anyway?   ride for you. with the bike, trails and time you have available.  and  with your friends if you like.  although you might need to get used to riding alone for a few years...  at some point you'll have your kids to ride with which is rather cool even if you are on the most uncool green trails!  and now that my girls are teenagers I am starting to get at least some of my time back and that is also great!


+1 Cam McRae
Cameron Curtis  - Aug. 22, 2017, 9:05 p.m.

Wow. These comments are exactly what I have been doing. I have 6, 4 and just born (5 weeks). This summer I just got some lights and for the past couple of weeks for some 9-10pm rides. I have just started to work on my skills. And, in doing so, I noticed that part of my lacking skills is my lack of hip and gluteal (hip abductor) strength. My wheelie is coming along. My manual and ergo my bunny hop and jumping skills are truly sad still.

So, it appears that you are part of another club. Much more elite actually. I mean, any fool with 5-10k can own a flash bike and be a member of the elite, but you (and me and all us other sad sacks:) are members of the truly foolish club who've dropped that much in diapers and car seats! Ha. I live in the praireis now where like no one bikes, but in Vancouver surely you can find a group of dudes in a similar position and draw short straws for who watches the kids and who does a lap or two. 

Best of luck.


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