Did mountain biking ruin the hike for me?

Photo: Matt Miller

It was on my way back to the truck, hovering for the second time over the edge of a rock knife, where the compressed tectonics ended in dramatic fashion, that I realized my adrenaline was running low. exhausted. I really don’t like the heights or the vulnerability that comes with a long fall below. Part of this route was poorly planned by myself, but oddly enough the hike back to Grays Peak had little information compared to almost every other trail in Colorado. It was July 4th, and we wanted to do something other than mountain biking and try a spot that might be less crowded.

So my wife and I continued. We had climbed Grays, above 14,000 feet; a challenge even if you have a paved path. Rather, it was a trace along a ridge line that required all four limbs to touch the ground to navigate safely, at least 2-3 miles of the 6-mile journey. What should have been a shorter trip to the top took much longer than the longer traditional route due to the technicality.

On the way home, I was physically and mentally exhausted, but deeply satisfied – the kind of satisfaction that comes from pushing yourself through great discomfort. I hadn’t felt this after a bike ride in quite some time. I was wondering why I don’t hike more often.

There is a common phrase among my mountain bike colleagues lately who have tried an electric bicycle. “It’s going to ruin me for regular mountain biking. The idea is that because you can climb faster and ride further with less effort, we will lose interest in mountain bikes without a motor. It’s a bit like going back to green beans after you’ve already eaten a brownie. As a quick aside and rebuttal, I haven’t found e-bikes to spoil me yet for bikes without a motor.

But, I found that in my life, as I did more mountain biking, my interest and participation in hiking waned and bicycles completely dominated the tug of war match with hiking, like a mastiff would do a Maltese. It seems most of my ATV friends also prefer wheels over boots for their trail activity, at least according to Strava.

So what’s different about hiking? A slower pace, and while some may disagree with my second thought, an experience more connected with the surrounding nature. When I’m riding I’m focused on the track ahead, unless I’m on a pull-off devouring a waffle stroke. The hike allows you to listen to ambient sounds and look off the trail for new things and even provides space for reflection and introspection.

This year, I have done more than 130 races. I did two hikes. On both hikes I left reminding myself that I should hike more often. Of course, not all hikes and rides can be some sort of captivating trip. This steady dose of adrenaline, mixed with serotonin, gives me all kinds of sensations on a normal basis when mountain biking, so biking is a hard activity to put aside for any other hobby. .

Research on extreme athletes indicates that sport addiction is possible. Some people joke that we are addicted to mountain biking, hence our wacky purchases. Many of us have seen the meme that implies that if we introduce our kids to mountain biking, they will never have the money to buy drugs. But addiction requires two things: a higher capacity for tolerance – that is, it takes more of something to achieve the same effect – and withdrawal symptoms, which are seemingly exaggerated when they occur. is about any sport.

However, researchers have found that athletes can experience withdrawal when they abstain from sport. They mainly studied climbers and parachutists. During the study, the athletes exhibited symptoms of anhedonia, or loss of interest in other activities, and an overwhelming urge to play their sport. And, the more they participated, the more likely they were to be “addicted”.

“Skydiving addiction was low in novice participants, moderate in intermediate participants and high in experienced participants, implying that addiction increases with experience and exposure to their sport. “

And so, the more we sink, the more we sink. It’s no wonder mountain biking is a first resort. The study also noted that athletes may experience negative emotions or emotions during periods of abstinence from sports and feel stressed or unhappy.

While my short answer to my own dilemma isn’t that I’m “addicted,” everything is in place to make it easier to choose mountain biking over hiking. My friends are mostly mountain bikers, I have good trail access and the right bikes. And mountain biking may well elicit stronger feelings. But of course, too much of one thing can always be bad, so the next time there’s a chain of mechanics in my garage, I know what I’ll do.


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