A Rebuttal to Close-Minded Mountain Bikers

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in the Bridgestone Owners Bunch Gazette, June 1993, as sort of a response to letters to the editor that were received after I published "Mountain Bikes: Who Needs 'Em?" See below for other related articles.

America has a sacred cow and it is the mountain bike. And its worshippers angrily proclaimed "don't tread on me" after reading my recent article in Bicycle Guide, "Mountain Bikes: Who Needs Them?" (Feb. '93)

My premise is that road bikes are more ideal for most of the riding done on mountain bikes (remember that 80% of the ATBs don't leave the pavement!) and that much can be gained from venturing into the dirt on skinny tyres. It was a simple "Hey! Try this!" article, not a personal attack on fat tyres. I was just telling it like it is: "I routinely dust every mountain biker I encounter on the trail. And I ride a road bike." This is because my road bikes outhandle my ATBs on most of the dirt terrain that I can legally ride in my area and my road bike has forced me to develop superior skills and strength when used in terrain where an ATB is superior. Thus I'm a stronger and more skillful rider because of using my road bike in the dirt. And thus you can do the same!

But America missed the point. What ensued was the biggest letter and phone-in campaign in the history of the magazine. (May, '93) The readers' almost unanimous reply? "F*** you, as****e!" And I'm not paraphrasing. The letters were filled with four letter expletives, personal character attacks, and even sketches of clenched hands with the middle finger raised. Talk about class and sophistication...

What's wrong with America? What happened to our wild frontier, try anything, Land of the Free, speak your mind and be respected for it attitudes? Guess those days are gone like friction shifting. Instead, at least among one segment of Americana, we're breeding knee-jerk, egocentric, xenophobia. Too bad.

It's been said for some time that some of the new bicycle technology just further separates the rider from the natural element and makes the rider more dependent on equipment than on talent. Likewise, it's been said that powerful marketing hype has duped the public into believing that they can not possibly ride without all of the latest whizbang gizmos.

I guess the readers' reaction to my piece proves that a hefty number of America's cyclists are truly being led like cows with rings through their noses: "Think this way, America. Believe this, America. Don't try anything unusual, America, especially something that might liberate you from your enslavement and allow the kind of to-heck-with- the-establishment free-thinking that Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers utilized."

McCarthy would be proud.

However, one reader, though dubious, took my advice and ventured off-pavement on skinny tyres: "After testing your seemingly bizazrre road bike in the dirt theory I can concur with your observations and recommendations. There is a very tough dirt hillclimb near my office that my office mates and I use for time trial purposes. On my first attempt I lowered my PR from 22:43 to 19:47 (a course record). I could hardly believe it. I plan to use a road bike for the hillclimb competition in the first round of the Sizzler off road series." -D.W. of San Jose, CA.

This guy has balls. What's wrong with the rest of America?

Closely Related Articles

"Mountain Bikes: Who Needs "Em?" — Bicycle Guide, February 1993

"Any Bike, Anywhere" — City Sports, May 1993 and The 1994 Bridgestone Catalogue, September 1993.

"Mountain Bikes: Who Needs "Em?" — Bicycle Guide, February 1993

Other Related Articles

"Training Specificity: Who Needs It?" — Bicycle Guide, May 1993.

"The Way of the Outdoor Athlete" — (long version), Triathlete, July 1993.

"Wholistic Training Spurs Superior Skills" —Tail Winds, January/February 1994.

"Planet Ultra: It's Just an Attitude" — Over The Edge, July 1994 and City Sports, October 1993.

"Less Equals More: The one-speed Ibis Scorcher delivers an incredible workout" — Bicycle Guide, November/December 1993 and Wire Donkey Bize 'Zine , Vol.11, No.128, October 30, 1998.

"Never Say Fred" — The BOB Gazette, Issue #8, September 1994.

"When Style Was Effortless And Unmistakable" — The BOB Gazette, Issue #1, February 1993 and Wire Donkey Bize 'Zine , Vol.11, No.128, October 30, 1998.

"Moustaches and Pineapples: Bridgestone's Grant Petersen Speaks Out" — with photos, California Bicyclist, August 1992.

"SCOOP: Darwin Speaks on Bicycle Evolution" — with photos, California Bicyclist, June 1992.