Ask Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave, I've lost that lovin' feelin'...

Photos Kaz Yamamura (cover shot)
Reading time

Hey Uncle Dave

Have you ever had a stretch were biking has lost its luster? A period in time where going out and hitting the trails just doesn't sound anywhere near as fun as it used to? After 11 years of commuting, cycle touring, road riding, mountain biking, and zwifting, I now feel like I'm forcing myself to go on one half-assed ride a week. 

It's really strange, my skills are at an all time high and I'm hitting stuff I only dreamed of a few years ago. My friends have the best intentions, but it's starting to feel like they are nagging to get me out all the time. I look at other people, and I remember when I used to be that excited about going for a pedal, but it just isn't there. 

Should I take a break and try something else for a while? Should i force myself on more rides on hope of jump starting something? Please let me draw on your life experiences!

Bored of bikes 

Dear Bob:

How much of our life have we spent doing the things that we’re “supposed to do”? Go to school. Get a job. Buy a bunch of shit. Get married. Have kids. Retire. Die. All due to pressure from parents. Friends. Spouses. Bosses. Coworkers. Baristas. It turns life is an endless cycle of expectations that we can never seem to meet.

This should not include our hobbies.

Yes, we have it pumped full blast into our faces that we should be riding every day on the newest bikes as fast as we can down the hardest trail with a dozen other people. When we get to the bottom we should high five our good looking friends and then load up our bikes in slow motion onto the back of our rugged crossover vehicle. If we’re not doing that, we should be colour coordinating our grips to our spoke nipples and we should be visiting the yoga studio twice a week so that we can stretch out our spines so that we can fit onto a longer, slacker bike. We judge ourselves against the curated moments of our friends or against the 10 second nuggets created by professionals whittling down hours and hours of footage. All of this bullshit smacks us so hard and so consistently in the face that we’re always just a tiny bit surprised when each ride doesn’t play out like a beer commercial.

This is supposed to be fun. It is fun. Right? We’re having fun?

Sometimes I question that notion. Usually this happens as I’m sitting in traffic on my way to the trail or spinning up the same climb for the 1000th time. There’s almost always an element of fun to a bike ride, but we tend to gloss over how much work it can be, sometimes. The planning, the driving, the maintenance, the laundry! The parts shortages, the gear envy, the chafing! There’s always something that we need, or a place that we should go, or a person that is doing it all better. You finally think you have it all figured out, and then some 10-year-old passes you on the trail and he’s riding a better bike and his teeth are a whole lot straighter.

You’d think that having stoked friends would help you through all of this, but that can be a bit of a double-edged sword. I mean, how great is it to have somebody to show you that new trail or to coax you out of your funk? How amazing is it to have somebody cheering you along? But sometimes you want that happy bastard with the endless enthusiasm and chipper demeanor to just keep quiet for a little while so that you can spend a few hours sitting on your ass, drinking lemonade.

Here’s a little secret about life. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to do it! You’re allowed to say no! You’re going to be fine if you don’t ride your bike for a few days/weeks/months! It doesn’t matter how stoked that other person is. You don’t owe them a damned thing.

But nobody tells you this. Nobody admits that this is the case. Nobody tries to sell you shit by telling you to take it easy, appreciate what you have and not worry about what all those other yahoos are up to. Nobody tells you that most people will forget all about you 5 seconds after you drift out of their field of vision. Nobody cares if you’re wearing fancy clothes or riding the latest bike. Certainly nobody gives a shit if you’re out there riding your bike. Or not.

This sounds a bit harsh, but holy shit can it be liberating to know these things! Worrying about what other people think of you or expect of you is a terrible, petrifying experience. I remember in Grade 8 stressing out that people were going to laugh at me because my pants weren’t rolled correctly. I remember in University being afraid to eat lunch in the cafeteria alone, lest I be judged a friendless moron. Now, rolling solo into a restaurant, wearing sweatpants and a stained t-shirt sounds like the beginnings of a really solid day! I know that unless I slip in a puddle, split my pants open and soil myself as I go crashing to the ground, not one single person in that restaurant is going to have any memory of me, even just a half an hour later.

Part of the problem is that we’re sold a notion that we are what we do. We’re all “cyclists” or “outdoors people” or “lifted pickup driving rednecks that happen to have a bike in the back”. It’s just easier to go buy a pair of NF pants than to develop an actual personality. What’s left if you can’t post to Instagram from the trailhead? Of course the threat of this disappearing from our lives is scary! If we’re not cyclists, most likely nothing remains! We’d become our jobs or the sports that we watch on TV or lame moms/dads or whatever. Cycling is that thing that anchors us to our group of friends, or that gives us that twinge of hope as we suffer through our work week, or that makes us just a bit less boring. Who on earth wants to lose that?

Think of how COVID, and the COVID cycling explosion, has impacted this. Way back when, we spent a month or two puzzling over whether or not we should even leave the house to ride a trail. Then, we felt this immense sense of gratitude as we finally were able to make it back to the trails. And then a million other jackasses figured out the same thing! Does the parking lot full of people make us feel worse about our life choices? Do all of the people riding the trail that don’t know how to ride the trail impact our feelings of self worth? Are we slowly realizing that the barriers to entry aren’t all that high, and thus the thing that we thought made us special, isn’t actually as special as we thought it was? That buying our way to the next level is a pretty silly thing to do? Sometimes, all you can do is shrug your shoulders. At other times, you’re left feeling like you need to prove your bona fides. Either way, it’s easy to see this as just one more division in our already divided sport.

Who are we? What are we? What am I since I don’t have an office to go to any more? Why did 20% of my coworkers also just pick up a pair of knee pads and a 150mm 29er? What does it mean now that the forest is a parking lot? Of course you have questions. Forcing yourself on another half-assed bicycle ride is not the answer.

We’ve already written this article before (probably with more care and attention) and there is some advice there that I would probably give again. Trying new things is usually the best way to break out of a funk.

But sometimes the funk is so deep that time away is the only answer. And if you don’t want to ride your bike, then don’t ride your fucking bike! The trails are still going to be there in a few months (probably). Your friends are still going to be endlessly high fiving in the parking lot. There’s still going to be a shortage of chains and brake pads. Things are going to be just fine if you stop riding for a bit. Maybe you’ll discover something else that is fun to do. Maybe you’ll meet some people that don’t ride bikes and figure out that there is a whole other world out there. Or, maybe you’ll realize that without cycling, you are nothing. You’ll buy a few more T-shirts and you’ll splurge on some Fox shocks for your Tacoma and you’ll start practicing your high fives in the mirror, and the circle will be complete.

Either way, like that friend who always seems to forgive you no matter what you’ve done, cycling will be there! It doesn’t care if you want to take a break to try other things. It doesn’t care if you find a new hobby that you like better. It doesn’t care what you’re wearing, or if you smell funny, or if somebody else is doing it better. It’s just a thing that we do that is supposed to give us some pleasure. So if it isn’t (giving you pleasure, that is), stop doing it for a while, figure things out, and stop worrying about it.


Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave’s Music Club

I swear I’ve posted this before, but my records tell me not. True story…the first time I heard Hollaback Girl, I asked “Is this Peaches?” What an insult to Peaches.


Well BOB, you win a prize, but we don't want to pressure you, so we probably shouldn't tell you about the Raceface Conspiracy shorts, and maybe even a Conspiracy jacket. Possibly. Probably. In your sizes of choice. Potentially.

While both of these products are designed to for bike riding, particularly in inclement weather, they would also likely competently cover your body parts when engaged in other activities. Or when disengaged from some activities and sitting in a dark room playing Fortnite. Or r(e?)watching every episode of Seinfeld. Or (re?)reading Harry Potter. Well, the shorts at least. The jacket is likely inappropriate for indoor gaming, Seinfelding, or Pottering.


RaceFace's Conspiracy jacket (left) and Conspiracy Shorts (right), modelled by the effortlessly dashing Geoff Gulevich (both left and right)

So it's up to you really. If you'd like to brush off the pressure these garments may bring, just let us know and we'll find a home for these items next time around. If you think you can handle it, send us an email! (but congrats all the same!).

If you have a question for Uncle Dave, you should send it to him. No pressure though.

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB


+17 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Vik Banerjee imnotdanny Cr4w Geof Harries Corinne Summers mrbrett Metacomet E-wok Andrew Major cxfahrer Luix Tayto Mbcracken Morgan Heater Tremeer023

Man, I needed to read this today.  Very well written, and the sentiment checks out.

I have been in the same boat as the OP, especially after a challenging 7+ months with neck/disc issues.  Now I'm all healed up and having a hard time getting motivated to ride.  I almost feel guilty not frothing at the mouth to get out, and as the article states its because we believe in a lot of cases it DEFINES us and our existence.  It doesn't.

After 34 years of MTB, I have to sometimes step back and remember I have periods like this in my life, taken chunks of time "off" - but I always come back to it again with the renewed vigor of a newb that just discovered it when the time is right.

This too shall pass.


+6 Ben Shaw Cam McRae blaklabl Metacomet Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

This too shall pass!

My wise grandmother also used to say that, but she was referring to proper hardships such as the Great Depression, various widespread outbreaks and colicky babies.

I too am with you in needing this article. I chuckled more than a few times reading it. Uncle Dave, you are a talented fella.

I've also been mountain biking for about 30 years and took nearly 2 months off this fall because I "was done." I just had no desire to ride a bike. I felt guilty about it too, and I'm not even on the wretched social media!

Now that it's snowing, that slump is letting up but at the same time continuing and I'm thinking more about snowboarding and snowmobiles. And that's okay. In fact, it's good. No, it's great.

Seasons change, and so do we.

My bikes will be still there, for future days and a future self.


+2 blaklabl Pete Roggeman

Oh, man - sorry to hear about the neck disc issue. I had my C6-C7 flare up recently for the first time in over a decade. Had the hand tingles and everything. I literally think it was due to a few rides with a new helmet that came so low on my forehead that I had to really articulate my neck to see up the trail.

Anyway, I did the towel-rope-door neck traction thing a couple of times a day for a few weeks and it did wonders for relieving the discomfort. Fingers crossed, but I seem to be back to healthy. Good luck and God speed with your own recovery!


+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

Thanks man, I did the series of 3 epidurals in the affected discs and have so far been pain free since.  Fingers crossed it stays that way!


+11 Andrew Major brianbernard mudhoney Ryan Walters Mark Vik Banerjee blaklabl Mammal Pete Roggeman kcy4130 stinhambo

One of the best things I ever did was move away from Vancouver and decouple myself from riding for a few years. I love bikes. I missed my bikes often. But it was an opportunity to discover myself outside of cycling. That might sound crazy, but it happened. I spend 10 years working in the industry and 20 riding. For many many years Sanesh = Cycling. I developed a fashion sense that wasn't cycling clothes. I hiked. And camped. And gymed. And xc skied. And windsurfed. And got really good at cooking. And travelled. And loved it all. Not as much as I loved bikes, but I did love it. It reminded me what I love about bikes - nature, tough climbs, great people, solitude, big rock faces - let me be ok with the things I was supposed to want but didn't - lift access, hucking, adrenaline. My break from bikes actually let me learn how to have fun outside of cycling. Bikes became a choice to me again, not just the only thing I knew.


+4 blaklabl Pete Roggeman kcy4130 stinhambo

"Bikes became a choice to me again, not just the only thing I knew."

The value in that comment is huge.


+9 Ben Shaw Geof Harries Cam McRae 4Runner1 Luix Deniz Merdano Cr4w Pete Roggeman shenzhe

When I am at peak MTB fitness/skills I try and remember this won't last so I appreciate it and tackle any goals/projects I've had in mind. When I am at a low point due to injury/fitness or no stoke I try and remember this won't last and I tackle any non-MTB goals/projects I had in mind. No matter where I am in the cycle of cycling I know it's only a matter of time before things change again. 

There is lots to do in life away from mountain bikes. So if your MTB stoke is low just hang up the bike and do something else you are passionate about until you start thinking about trail riding again.


+9 Ben Shaw Geof Harries Vik Banerjee mudhoney LWK Adrian Bostock kcy4130 Pete Roggeman damientheo

Sometimes you need to force yourself to get out and ride. Sometimes you need to let stoke return on its own. The trick is knowing when to do which. If it turns out to be the latter I go do something else for a couple of weeks to stay fit or heal up or have an adventure then watch the stoke come back of its own volition.


+1 Pete Roggeman

I'll force myself to ride if I just think I'm having a funky day. Usually with the plan for a short loop that can be expanded if I get my groove on. I know I need some time off if I force myself to ride a few times in a row and nothing good happens.


+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

I've had a few days where I realized I had misjudged what was needed and cut a ride short. It's hard when that happens and you feel like a bailer. But riding is hard, and dangerous. 90% of the time I'm loving it even when I'm suffering. If I'm fixated on risk I know I'm in the wrong headspace. So if it's the wrong tool sometimes it's better to minimize risk and get my fix another way.


+2 Mammal Pete Roggeman

Autumn is always a funny time for me.  Your brain has to adjust from going fast and having plenty of grip to slipping around and riding janky.  Once you change mindset it's all fine and you start enjoying rides for what they are.  It's also a great time to get on the HT and accepting the jank.


+6 Andrew Major Luix E-wok Vik Banerjee Mammal Pete Roggeman

As I read this, on the day after Remembrance Day, and having had some pretty shit days and lost a lot of friends during my 16 years of service, I remember that any day that I get to ride my bike, even if it is just a wheelie session on the driveway, is a great day. 

A great day for me. 

And I remember that I don't give two fluffs about what anyone else is doing or not doing with or without their bike on any given day.


+6 4Runner1 Grif JVP Vik Banerjee E-wok Pete Roggeman

Not sure when this was submitted or if the submitter is local, but it's also been a wierd fall. Might partially be early-onset seasonal affective.  

I like winter riding well enough,  but I love fall riding and fall didn't really happen this year. It feels like it's been November for three months now, like we went from August straight into November.  

Demoralizing is too strong of a word, but the fairly abrupt transition to winter has thrown my mojo off a bit. Like Vik says though, just part of the cycle. 

I really liked the article, I often catch me putting pressure on myself in ways that are totally arbitrary.  It's freeing when I recognize it.


+1 Pete Roggeman

Good point about this seasonal transition. Combined with such  heinous summer temps, where all you could do for a while is hide somewhere cool, it's seemed like a kind of cruel twist of fate to lose most of those cool, pristine fall conditions that we usually get to enjoy for a month or two.


+3 Geof Harries Cam McRae Pete Roggeman

Just this past Tuesday I realized how bad I missed Uncle Dave's column. And Bam! he comes back with a bite. I know this piece resonates with a lot of us. And I know I will be sharing it with a lot of friends.


+3 4Runner1 E-wok blaklabl

Brilliant article. After 25+ years of riding the shore I'm sure there have been times when it didn't blow my mind - but if there was I sure don't remember them. It's possible that as much as the trail doesn't noticed you've been away, given enough time you might not even remember.
Now that I'm a few short years from a half century on this planet I'm realizing my time on the shore does in fact have an end. Whenever I'm in my car waiting for a red light to turn green and see a group of middle aged dudes in spandex lined up along the curb next to me I think "is that what it'll come to?". That thought alone gets me back on the trail.


+2 kcy4130 Stretch

My missus has my permission to shoot me if I end up being a MAMIL.  Road bikings fine an all but we don't need to see or be dressed head to toe in lycra.



Even if it's the most comfortable thing to wear on a road bike? Good luck with your century ride in TLD knee length shorts and flannel shirt!


+3 E-wok Derek Baker Pete Roggeman

For me, the best thing to do to get me super excited about biking again, is to spend a few months snowboarding. The changeover keeps things fresh. Just as soon as I start to get burnt out on one, the seasons change and it’s time for the other.


+3 E-wok Pete Roggeman Mike Kittmer

Taking on other hobbies while the already expensive bikes fester in the garage is too much for my bank balance (and my wife's patience) to handle. 

It's been a good winter and spring here in Wellington NZ to leave the bike at home and meet some mates on the trail with saws, shovels, rakes and grubbers to repair what needs it and tune up what's not quite working.

It's now well into nut-so spring over growth mode so out come the petrol line trimmers, loppers and brush cutters.

My point here is that doing other hobbies is one thing but nothing gets me stoked to session a new section of trail than when I've had a part in its construction or maintenance. 

Too few people around here (Wellington that is, not NSMB.com) realise just how satisfying doing a couple of hours of trail work a week can be.


+2 Luix Pete Roggeman

This is pure gold! I may be printing parts of this out to put on my office wall! Cheers for the Friday laugh Dave!


+2 kcy4130 Pete Roggeman

I'm two months in to a self-induced 'offseason' for the first time in seven years since moving to California, where it's genuinely so fucking nice outside you don't have any reasons not to ride your bike. But it got less and less fun, so I made it harder and more interesting and rode all singlespeeds for a while. And then all fixed gears for a while. And then I was out of ways to make it interesting so I stopped.

I don't miss it yet.

I've picked up new hobbies, run a half marathon for shits and giggles, and reveled in only doing half the volume of laundry each week. Bikes will come back, but the offseason feels good.

Nice one as always, Uncle Dave, and thanks for all the Peaches.


+2 blaklabl Pete Roggeman

I’ve been riding MTB since 1990. There have been several periods wherein I stopped riding. Maybe it was a month or two. A few breaks have even  been a year or two. I always seem to find my way back to the trails, though, as my passion returns. I believe, for me, these breaks have been key to maintaining my life-long love of riding. 

Hang in there, OP. What you’re feeling is normal. And healthy!



+1 Pete Roggeman

Happens to me mostly seasonally, when every ride is followed by an hour of cleaning and repairs to body and bike. Judge me for being lazy, I don’t mind. 

For me, hopping over to something else that I suck at (even more than MTB) keeps me happy until the feeling returns. And it always does. 

Running, hiking, climbing, gym workouts, xc skiing, tennis, ballroom dancing, whatever. A couple of weeks and I’m back. Maybe even fitter for it.


+1 Pete Roggeman


Re: Peaches...This what I hear in my head when i see peaches in the grocery store or think of peaches or see the word peaches so thank you for the torment in my head that I am now experiencing. 

Love Dave


+1 Ryan Walters Pete Roggeman E-wok

I’ve been riding mountain bikes since 1983. I am still pretty stoked to ride all the time. I find the weather is what can kill my excitement these days. Also I now live where the snow prevents me from riding all year. I ski for those months so when spring riding comes I get really excited again. And my ass hurts and I wheeze but in a good way until I toughen up after a week or two of rides. Sometimes stoking the fire only requires some new grips to try out. Or servicing the suspension. Or new wheels last week got me excited. Or it’s not raining today. But it started raining ten minutes into the Legacy Climb but I’m out anyway. 

When I was still working though it was easier to just sit at home and relax instead of ride. Commuting by bike was always a good thing. Take the long way home and get the ride in that way. I looked at commuting by bike as a small vacation every afternoon. Group rides are often good motivation. There was a Wednesday night ride I did a fair bit that left at 7 from Park Gate Mall all year. It was partly social and partly hard riding. Always fun.


+1 Pete Roggeman

This was great!  I've also been riding for 30+ years and was in a bit of a funk all summer.  I had great intentions but the MTB trips I was looking forward to got cancelled for various reasons, I was really busy in the spring and my fitness never did catch up, I didnt have much motivation to ride my local (very XC) trails I've ridden a million times and at some point I was kind of like "eff it".  

Couple of things helped me get my mojo back this fall.  One, spent a week camping at Tyax lodge with my wife in Sept.  It wasnt a bike focused trip but I did some riding including one long(ish) day.  It really came back to me why I love riding my bike.  Second thing was that I had bought a packraft and while I had a blast learning new skills this summer I was reminded it can suck to be a novice.  It made me realize and appreciate that I can ride my bike at a (relatively) high level while managing the risks.  For me, that is valuable and something I dont want to lose.

Totally agree that having an off season is important.


+1 Pete Roggeman

Great article. I sometimes get a flashback to a BMX track in the UK in the early 2000's. A buddy and I were there and thinking that we were awesome. An older guy was there on this own, freewheeling down the start ramp and not really getting much air. He'd just keep doing that and seemed content with what he was doing. Buddy and I would look at him and make one or two p!ss taking comments to each other because we were in our late 20's / early 30's and AWESOME!

Now I am that old guy, and buddy rides an E-bike :D 

So yeah, just do what you do. For all the money 'we' spend on all looking the same at the trailhead we just look like a bunch of dorks to everyone else. One of the reasons I still like mountain biking and stick with it after 30+ years is that I get to go off into the woods and be 'me', not everyone else. And if being you doesn't involve a bicycle, that's all good too.


+1 Mike Kittmer

The older I get the more I appreciate every ride. Injury, health, or life changes could take us out of the game at anytime, and I feel lucky to be healthy, fit, and skilled enough to really enjoy riding. Sure there are times when it's hard to get out the door but I have never regretted it once I am on the trail. Switching up bikes and exploring new riding zones really helps keep things fresh for me, as does riding with friends with different skill levels and watching them progress.  I know I will have to stop riding eventually, but until then I plan to get out there as often as possible.



Spot on man.


+1 Mike Kittmer

This past summer I went on vacation and dropped 40,000m in 15 days on the best trails of my entire life. Got back home and just felt nothing. The home trails looked so boring, the same drudgery of a 45min climb for a 2min descent. So I took time off. Call it an "off-season". Visited a few cities, hung out at cafes, drank at some good pubs, had a few more laughs with friends I don't usually see until the winter. This also helps prepare you for when you have an actual off-season due to injury, you realise that being off the bike ain't the end of the world and there's lots of other nice things in life. 6 weeks later, I'm keen for another ride, as long as a tasty beverage is waiting at the bottom of my local.



Great response. It really doesn't matter! I had a long break from 2013 to 2018. Never got bored or fed up, just slid out of it by accident. Got into cars, then hiking, then back into riding again. Both pastimes that brought me enjoyment in different ways, connected me with different people, and taught me different skills. It's definitely not a bad thing to dedicate some time to other pursuits.



I can relate. I've started gravel riding more than MTB'ing (heresy, I know) as I wanted something new. 'Buddy, what's more thrilling  that MTB'ing?' you say. True, but I know what I'm good at and what challenges I enjoy and it's suffering 50+ km's (a la Test of Metal, Nimby Fifty, etc.) not janky, higher-consequence terrain over 3 km's. I did some 6-10 hour days in the Chilcos this summer and I loved it. Yep, it's MTB'ing not riding gravel in a forest, but I just love watching and feeling the km's tick away and gravel riding is something I don't know much about. I think I'll be back to MTB but for now I'm just going where my riding takes mem and I can't go wrong with that.



I started riding seriously and regularly sometime around ‘94. Never really lost any drive to be out as much as possible and progressing until my early 30’s when I experienced illness and a bout of injuries that persisted into my 40’s. Those breaks between recoveries resulted in me addressing some things in my life that I really needed to (adult type shit). The riding I did get to do between injuries was never taken for granted despite at times wondering if I should call it quits. That period launched a phase of riding alone that I’d not experienced in a long time. I needed that to remember that this activity is primarily for me. I learned to love solo missions for that. Now in my mid 40’s (ok, 47 soon) I’m still battling injuries and a chronic illness; the injuries both an outcome of that that but also the repercussions of a lifetime of hard sessions (skateboarding and MTBing). As I’ve built back and learned to adapt, my love of riding is now close to the strongest it’s ever been. Maybe that’s in part the result of some mid-life anxiety and the need to ‘soak it up while I still can’ but more so, because I realized that the passion had somehow endured and returned stronger after some really hard times. Every moment I decide to go out is now cherished and if I’m not up to it any given day, I don’t go...no pressure.



My fave way to stoke up for a ride when im not feeling it despite having the time and the weather is to watch some technique video, they never fail to make me wanna hit the trails


-7 Merwinn damientheo 4Runner1 Carlos Matutes Joseph Crabtree Vik Banerjee Shoreboy danimaniac Mammal kcy4130 Stretch

The trick is- buy a new Emtb. 

Experience the Up hill flow - it’s magic.


Please log in to leave a comment.