Photo from MTBR
Remember when Mountain Biking was King in the USA? I'd say that was in the mid nineties with names like John Tomac, Ned Overend and Julie Furtado. A time when "the race" was the cross country event. The bikes had little or no suspension and even some like Tomac even used dropped style handlebars adopted from his road cycling years. Transition between road and Mountain bike wasn't that big or at least as big as it is today.
[Time Warp late July 2013 Winter Park Colorado to the Colorado Freeride Festival and Enduro World Championships]
Great event with hundreds if not thousand(s) of spectators watching riders perform aerobatic stunts and jumps on their bikes that now make the once was amazing back flip on the movie Rad seem lame. Then the Enduro event, one that is so extreme that rider must wear more than just a helmet for protection and some will say the event lacks in actual pedaling time. Either way, this event is not for the light hearted, skill, strength and wits are needed. If Marty and Doc could have taken the Delorean up to 88mph in 1993 to 20 years later in Winter Park they would be amazed by what they would have seen, at how much the sport has changed from it's original roots
Rider upside down at Slopestyle course WP
Photo Credit: Sportif Images
First off, are these changes to the mechanics of the sport (the actual bike) and the events spectators are attracted to like the crazy event like the Slope Style where riders are more stunt riders with precision of a gymnast than one of a great VO2 the past cross country riders had, is all this a move in the wrong direction?
Before anyone goes off the handle, I don't think the sport of cross country mountain bike riding or racing is falling off, if anything it too is rising. But mountain biking at one time was a sport filled with cross-over roadies or the alternative sport to road cycling but today's mountain biking is diverging away from it's roots at a much much faster rate than road cycling is. Negative? I believe no but interesting to see where the sport was 20 years ago and wonder what the next 20 years not just to mountain biking may bring but to cycling as a whole. What will be next, will we have a bike commuting boom or a recreational touring boom like that of Holland and Germany. Will more states adopt our recreational like culture with cycling?
I don't know but after attending the Colorado Free Festival I'm am pleased at where we have come in the last 20 years and am excited for the next 20 to come. And you?