10 Ways Mountain Biking Prepares You For Life


Mountain biking is a microcosm for real life. You crash, you fail, you get frustrated. You succeed, you achieve, you improve, you push your limits, and then maybe you crash some more. In the process, you’re constantly learning, and those lessons extend far beyond the trailhead. Here are 10 major reasons mountain biking prepares you for real life.

1. When you crash, you get back up. The whole “get back on the horse” thing is probably the most over-used life advice out there, but naturally, it’s true, and mountain biking certainly teaches you to get back up and give ‘er, because otherwise it will take you all night to get off this f*cking mountain. Thanks to mountain biking, you’re better at handling failure in the rest of your life, too. You know that sometimes all it takes is another go.

2. You’re good at dealing with frustration. Mountain biking is thrilling, breath-taking, glorious fun. Most of the time. Other times it’s the goddamn worst most frustrating thing in the world. You bash your shins. You can’t get up any of the rock features that everyone else is dancing up like mountain goats. You’re the slowest person in the group. Etc. Etc. But, you know what? Life is frustrating at times. And mountain biking provides you with some good coping mechanisms. Afterall, as much as you want to chuck your bike into a pile of rocks, you can’t, because it cost $5,000. So you have to, like, take deep breaths and shit.

3. You learn to ALWAYS BRING SNACKS. Which gives you one-up on the Bundys. After your first mountain bike ride that goes about five hours longer than planned and leaves you stranded in the wilderness with nothing to eat, you learn your lesson. And then you become that kid who always brings a bag of snacks, wherever you go. You understand what happens when the hangries set in and you’re willing to do just about anything to avoid it. Whether it’s a road trip or a workout or a clandestine mission to overthrow a bird sanctuary — you are prepared.

4. In fact, you’re prepared for crises on all fronts. You have spare brake pads in your hydration pack and you know how to fix a busted tire with a dollar bill. You have an emergency blanket and snow boots in your car (even in the summer). You’re that person who brings a water bottle everywhere and packs a raincoat to go to the desert. Everyone borrows your chapstick. You may not always have your shit together, per se, but you’re borderline paranoid when it comes to that whole “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” thing.

5. You look ahead when the going gets rough. One of the first tenets of bike skills is “look ahead.” If you’re focused on every little obstacle in the trail, you won’t be prepared for what’s coming down the trail at you and before you know it you’ll be excavating with your face. Mountain biking teaches you to keep your head up and not get too caught up in your current problems. When life gets real, you’re looking 20 meters up the trail (or whatever the IRL equivalent of that is).

6. You know how to handle minor injuries without LOSING YOUR FREAKING MIND. Don’t mind me, I’m just scrubbing rocks out of my knee in your kitchen sink. Wait, isn’t that normal? Oof, my bad. You can handle the sight of blood, and you know how to bandage and clean a wound. And when something’s reeeeeeeallly wrong, you know the difference. (Although you may wait until AFTER dinner to get your face stitched back together, see point #3 about the hangries).

7. You know how to commit to something and make it happen. Anyone who’s ever ridden a mountain bike understands the concept of a “hesitation fall.” You know, that moment when you decide you don’t want to ride something, but goddamnit, you decided too late yet again and now you’re getting up close and personal with a tree. What you might not realize is that hesitation falls are a thing in real life, too. In the workplace, in your friendships and romantic relationships, in your personal passions and projects — commitment is often the difference between success and huck-to-face.

8. You practice humility, every time you step out on the trail. Mountain biking is a pretty humbling sport — just when you think everything is going your way, BOOM-mechanical or BOOM-mysterious-unexplained-eating-of-shit. You can find the occasional arrogant asshole in mountain biking, but frankly, they’re rare. I think this is because we’ve all been that kid who cried because a trail was too hard, or the kid who forgot his water bottle on a 30 mile ride, or the kid who’s sitting on the side of the trail with a flat tire looking forlorn. We’ve all been that kid, so now, if we see that kid, we stop and help the kid. It’s pretty simple.

9. You learn to be brave. You learn to try things that scare you because frankly, you have no choice. Which means you are privvy to one of life’s greatest secrets: a lot of stuff looks worse than it is. This is true on the trail, and it’s true pretty much everywhere else, too.

10. You’re all about balance. After all, it’s pretty important for staying upright on your bike. But mountain biking also gives you a greater appreciation for balance in other aspects of life. Most bike people I know are better at the whole “work-life balance” thing than normal human beings because, ya know, life = bikes and bikes = fun and therefore you prioritize life. Obviously, there would be more happiness in the world if everyone rode bikes.

Syd Schulz

Pro mountain biker.

Average human.

I write about bikes and life and trying to get better at both.

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