The sentiment of this post really resonates with me, and it's been stuck in my head all week. It feels like our sport is really at its peak (and I don't see any end in sight.) I've been riding mountain bikes since the late 80s, having been aboard all manner of designs and competed in a variety of disciplines. There has been so much positive change, both from the standpoint of bikes and their components, the breadth of great bikes available, to popular acceptance of bikes in our Western culture, to advocacy and its natural outcome - trailbuilding and bike-specific travel destinations*. It's really striking and uplifting.
One little nerdy bit I thought I'd share that seems to pertain here: I have a graph in my mind that I dreamed up a few years ago. It relates to Cam's statement about improved personal riding performance as time progresses. Imagine a bell curve but skewed left. I imagine how the graph represents how our average speed** on a bike likely increases pretty quickly early in our riding careers and perhaps hits a zenith at some point (as it does for me) when we're our risk-taking behavior is at a max/life responsibilities are at a min. I imagine that the line of the graph tapers off gradually (avg speed decreases) as years go on. But in my mind, there are upticks in this graph after the high point as it moves to the right and those are - for me - related to breakthroughs in specific bike features or tech. For example, full-suspension bikes, even at their crudest in the early 00s, permitted me to ride a lot faster than my double triangle Stumpy S-Works with its 72' HA and 74' SA. Then came along slacker geo and more fork travel, such as on my Rocky Pipeline. A little faster still on my RM7...then onto a Banshee Scream, and a Cannondale Gemini. Then faster-forwarding quite a bit: I put a KS dropper post on my trail bike and riding changed yet again. Then I hopped from 26" wheels of my SB66 to a Remedy 29. Now I am on a 170/150 travel Slash. Like Cam, I feel I am cornering faster than ever, climbing reasonably well, and handling the steep terrain of Western Washington at least as well as I ever was.
Halfway through my 42nd lap around the sun, I'm eager for the next breakthrough! How 'bout you?
* There are obviously several other phenomena in our sport like the beast that is Social Media, widespread access to streamable competitions from around the globe, democratization in tech to permit small builders to compete with more-established brands, just to name a few.
**Just to choose a measurable factor for the purpose of this example. One might also select race results, or days ridden per year, or % time spent on black diamond trails.