WHY WE LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING
WHY WE LOVE
Words by Kelsey Timpany
Do you remember your first love? Close your eyes and take yourself back to that time. Can you remember those butterfly moments, the giddy feeling and your stomach doing somersaults? No? Me neither. Does the thought of riding your bike down a sun-kissed mountain ridge, schralping up the inside of a freshly built berm, fist bumps, and high fives after nailing a feature bring on these warm fuzzies? Yes? Me, too!
Your bike can open up a whole new realm of opportunities. It can inspire gratitude and appreciation, and it will always be there for you. There are moments of utter bliss when you are climbing or descending, and have thoughts such as, “There is no better feeling than this,” “I’m glad I actually dragged my butt out of bed,” or, for me lately, “I wish everyone could see and feel what I’m experiencing right here, right now.”
The best way to explore this theme is to break it down into the top-three reasons why I love mountain biking.
CONNECTION AND COMMUNITY
The connections with people that go hand in hand with mountain biking are second to none. Mountain biking attracts true salt-of-the-earth people. Inspiration and stoke can be shared over beverages—tall tales told of near-misses, gnarly shoots, bad taping jobs at races, tricky features and more. Having a common interest in riding often breaks down social barriers and brings different people together. Some of my best friendships have come through mountain biking. I have yet to find these types of friendships and support in other areas of life.
The cycling community brings out the best in people, uniting us in many ways but mainly based on our pure stoke and passion for riding.
THRILL AND ADVENTURE
The need for speed and intense experiences is something that most mountain bikers relate to. The adrenaline rush keeps us coming back for more. Every pedal stroke gives you the power and freedom that other activities, such as golf (no offense, just a great example), lack.
The mental and physical challenge of completing a huge ride in the red zone, feeling that good kind of muscle ache at night, or putting away a technical feature with confidence, speed, and flow are a few of the accomplishments that can be experienced through mountain biking. The satisfaction you feel can put you in such a good headspace, leaving you feeling on top of the world and yearning for more.
OUTLET FOR US TO BE
We all need an outlet, something to do or somewhere to go when we have pent-up energy, stress, or the need for fun. Getting out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and putting all your energy and focus into the trail in front of you is therapeutic. Studies regularly show that consistent exercise can positively impact your mental health. Natural endorphins relax you and boost your mood. Increased blood flow, and therefore more oxygen to the brain, helps creative thinking—even if that outlet is party laps with your pals!
UNITY AND CONFIDENCE
When you unite a group of riders who share a love of biking, you begin to create something so powerful it can start a serious movement! A case in point is that the women’s movement in mountain biking is building more and more momentum, and I am so excited to be experiencing it at its core! Key athletes are using their following and status to highlight room for growth within the women’s mountain biking community—whether it be more variety in female-specific technical gear, equal prize money or recognizing that women deserve a place in the mountain bike community. Seeing these ambassadors speak up from a place of love for the whole biking community is so inspiring, and you can see it trickling down through every level, all the way to your local tracks. Truly spectacular!
Ladies Jump Night with Mons Royale is a perfect example of the community coming together to help achieve their goals and have fun.
The confidence I have gained from mountain biking is one of my most invaluable assets, and it wasn’t until I sat down to write this column that I truly realized the extent of it. Carrying over what I learn from the love of riding into my daily life makes me compassionate and a better friend, worker and community person. Having the support of Pivot, who sees and shares my vision and passion, has amplified this, all because, well—bikes! And, as always, for the love of It.
Everyone has his or own reasons for loving mountain biking. If something from the above discussion resonates with you, then you yourself are a participant of bike love.
CHECKING IN WITH KELSEY
MBA: How can our community get stronger, and what steps can be looked into taking?
Kelsey Timpany: In my experience, there are always a few key players within a community that really embody the love and passion of the sport. Their selflessness, unconditional love, unpaid hours, and dedication are what start and maintain a strong community. Surround yourself with these people, latch on, watch, learn, then act. Having a hub for mountain biking is key, as it brings together those who sometimes don’t have anything in common but bikes. Creating rituals such as Wednesday-night trail digs, followed by a cold one at the local pub or Friday-night airbag sessions, creates a sense of purpose and drive within the community and creates rich social bonds and experiences.
Getting involved in these communities—from groms to veterans—your number-one step is to simply show up, which can be easier said than done. Show up with an open mind to events, such as casual dig sessions, jump jams to races, and more serious events. Bring your best attitude and the rest will follow suit. Eventually, the environment will nurture friendships and bonds, all with the common underground theme of bikes. Uniting people with the same passions that provoke only the best outcomes in the ultimate environment is the end game!
MBA: What are some other examples all can work on to help bridge the gap for equality in our beloved sport?
KT: Equal opportunities for all. Be kind. Support companies such as Mons Royale. They share the same vision as many by supporting women in freeriding. They created and executed Future Ground (a progression camp for athletes) that I was so fortunate to be invited to. This was following in the footsteps of Red Bull Formation (the women’s equivalent to Rampage), but on a level that is more accessible and inspiring for everyone! Another recent campaign that really stood out was All Bodies on Bikes by Shimano that promotes inclusivity of larger body types. It was so inspiring to see this community band together to change the narrative of riding stereotypes. Let’s come together and change the narrative for the better!
MBA: Now that you live in Queenstown, New Zealand, what is your vision for the future?
KT: I am surrounded by an epic mountain bike community with so many friends and riders. This place is literally a breeding ground for up-and-coming talent, and every summer more and more people from all backgrounds are out on the trails being nurtured in this incredible sport. This is what motivates me to progress—seeing the top boys and girls hitting huge features, putting down wicked race runs and pushing their own personal limits. I cannot help but think, “If they can, why can’t I? And if I can, why can’t you?”
It is my vision within the next year and beyond to keep this dream alive, travel the globe with my bike, cement myself as an all-around rider and be an advocate that embodies the pure joy that biking can bring. This is just the start!
Editor’s note: Kelsey Timpany grew up as a track and road cyclist at a national level; however, it wasn’t until she moved abroad that her discovery and love for all things mountain biking was born. Competitive by nature, it wasn’t long until she fully immersed herself in the culture, community and race events that mountain biking brings. What started as the “beer league” in Whistler on her downhill bike then ushered her into traveling the world. From national series events to enduro races and freeride events in North America, she’s now back in New Zealand.
Recently, Kelsey has signed with Pivot as an ambassador while pushing her free-ride boundaries and showcasing how we all can progress, love and create harmony through biking. Pushing this idea further, Kelsey has also actively been documenting in her blog and social media. For this feature we showcase one of Kelsey’s blogs about bike love, along with an exclusive interview with MBA. Before the questions, however, let’s jump over to Kelsey’s own words and thoughts.