1 Feb 2017

Love For The Mountains

WORDS & PHOTOS x Riley Seebeck

The Thrill

There’s something about big mountains that seems to pull at all of my adventure strings. The feeling of being at the absolute top of something is such an accomplished feeling and late last year I had a itch to scratch so I grabbed a friend and set off on my second 14er – Mt Democrat. It was November and that time of year Colorado, USA isn’t the most ideal place to ride high above the clouds. At altitude snow and quickly cooling temperatures can really throw you a curve ball but with Native American summer weather conditions abound I wasn’t going to miss one last big mountain ride for the season.

Shorts and a light jacket kept us warm and the crunch of the snow beneath our feet was actually a boon as it covered the rough rocks making our path at times easier. Reaching the top I came to the realisation that these trips feel like the real “enduro”; pushing through the pain just for the thrill of adventure. (Maybe “adventure biking” sounds a little better?) One reaches a point where the pain fades, numbness sets in and you continue to push. Lungs filled with what feels like only half of their capacity, shoulders aching, and yet this is what I live for. There’s something about enduring through the pain and keeping positive with motivation – all just to see what’s up there at the top of the biggest mountain peaks.

Yep, we’d conquered another 14er and a long rewarding descent from the very top of Mt Democrat was all ours. However, that’s only a small part of this story (or discussion).

The Big Picture

I feel that the really big mountains (like the 14ers) are extremely important to us as adventurers and bikers and there’s always ongoing controversy of whether we, as bikers, should be allowed on them or not. Keeping that thought in mind I feel that we need to respect these mountains as much as one would respect their own self.

Places like these are rare gems that we need to protect. Being a trailbuilder, I’ve come to understand the urgency and importance to build sustainable trail for everyone to use. These mountains will always be explored and thrive; the problem is making all trail users happy. Mountain bikers are out for the same reasons as anyone else – we love adventure, we love challenging ourselves and we love conquering that challenge.

Many of us want to be a part of a working solution so we can keep exploring the highest peaks on our bikes, and some want to keep these trails away from us. What is the best solution?

The Friendly Persuation

If we want to keep biking in these epic places I feel that the whole user community needs to grow together and through education and positive relationships we MTBers can show that we care about keeping the trails protected and healthy – just as much as any wildlife activist, hiker, birdwatcher, horseback rider or trail runner.

At the top level we can get involved in our local community, support our local bike shops, volunteer on a trail build days, and build relationships with other outdoor users and communities. But I also think the smallest and easiest things can haver the greatest impact. From my experience the biking community has been one of the most welcoming groups I’ve ever been involved with and such positivity circling our sport should be spread. Wave to people on the trail, say hello, be the friendliest person other trail users meet, and spread the LOVE. Maybe this simple and easy gesture can be our most powerful means of ensuring we can explore many more 14ers for years to come.