Photo via flickr by pixelrobber

Photo via flickr by pixelrobber

by Jamie Mack

It’s 5:30 AM and I’m in my basement listening to Tim Johnson talk about coloring in one of his 9-balls for the 23rd time. The only thought going through my head, other than that I need to put in a new video tomorrow, is why am I up this early, pedaling away on the trainer. It’s not because this is fun – it’s not, but most of you know that – and it certainly isn’t because of some obsessive need to beat the digital bastard from Computrainer that I chase every morning (I’m never going to catch him if I keep giving those extra 10 watts). Like most of you, I’m up early, out late or giving up some other part of normal life to pursue this passion of ‘cross. I do this…

  • For the technology. I’ve been a die-hard bike geek for a longer time than I care to admit. I’ve ridden with toe clips because they were the only option, and I remember when front suspension on MTB’s was considered a fad, so I’ve been here a while. And I love nothing more than wrenching on my bike, installing some new-fangled part or just reading about the bikes that I’ll never be able to afford. The only way to justify any of that, is to ride more often.
  • For the family. Anyone with children knows what it’s like to chase a kid around for a couple of hours after work. I ride so that when the five year-old has me distracted, I’ll still be prepared for the flying two year-old coming in on my blindside. Forget all that the books and magazines tell you, the key to successful parenting are reflexes and stamina. If the little ones get the upper hand, it’s all over. ‘Cross is that rare combination of anaerobic stress and quick-thinking that will help prepare you to deal with the young ‘uns.
  • For me. Tearing through a park, race course or trails with a good group of like-minded folks is something that many adults would never even consider. But we know better. Coming out of the woods covered in dirt, maybe a little blood, is like a reset button for the mind and the soul. The stresses melt away, if only for a little while, and you find the kid inside that most people said goodbye to long ago. For all the meetings that we have to go to in our normal lives, one with your inner child needs to be worked into the calendar every now and then.
  • For the community. I’ve been involved in all different types of racing, from 24-hour to triathlon, and I have never found such a tight-knit, yet welcoming community. The folks involved in ‘cross make this a wonderful lifestyle to be a part of.  For all the reasons I ride, the folks that I have the pleasure of riding with are one of the best – and one of these days, I may even catch up with some of them…

So, the obvious question – Why do you ride? What keeps your wheels turning and cranks spinning? Drop a comment below and let us know.