Open Up: Diversify Your Riding

July 26, 2021

It’s human nature to put things in boxes, to label, to erect fences, to categorize. We use fences in an attempt to contain what’s ours and to keep out what’s unwanted. And while we draw these lines with the hopes of creating order, the side effect is creating limitations.

Be An All-Bikes Cyclist

I often observe this phenomenon in cycling when I hear other cyclists say they are bound to just one form of the sport. At their core, bicycles are relatively simple machines, and it is through their simple, repetitive motion that they can allow a rider seeking recreation to transcend to full-on flow state nirvana. For me, the variety that comes with riding multiple disciplines helps keep my inner flame for the bicycle burning bright.

Dirt Jumping

Derived from Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics, the classic saying “what goes up, must come down” is in full effect when hitting dirt jumps. I’m sure it was the thrill of achieving maximum air time on jumps that Newton had on his mind when contemplating the realms of Physics and Calculus.

Striving to defy gravity, followed by the desire to do it with style, is what riding dirt jumps is all about. The never-ending quest for more air and more style is partly what keeps riders to log countless laps in a session (“one more lap,” famous last words). The other part of the equation is the community around this type of riding. Riding with others that are equally hungry to progress is an inspiring feeling. It is almost impossible not to get hyped up when someone else accomplishes their goal for the day after you’ve watched them try over and over between your runs.


If dirt jumps are heavy metal than riding gravel is a mellow R&B. Just to spin and admire the scenery is a complete 180 from all that makes jumping a bike fun, but the rhythmic roll of riding gravel is rewarding in its own right. Nature is stunning and being able to admire it with fewer stimuli from the saddle helps me to feel connected with the world around me.

No matter how you ride, crashes happen. When progressing in a sport where the bike and body fight the confines of gravity, one is bound to cross thin margin that delineates safe control and hitting the ground at some point. Without the added intensified tug of gravity pulling you earthward, as is the case in dirt jumping, riding gravel is generally a lot easier on the body and bike. When riding a lot, minimizing the wear and tear on the body and the bike can save a lot of stress and money.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is the pinnacle of cycling for me. The east coast delivers a lot of technical challenges to conquer, making the riding extremely dynamic and rewarding. The best way to describe it is organized chaos. Whether it is the plentiful rocks or root balls trying to snag your front wheel, it can feel like nature (or some crazy trail builder) is working against you.

Finding the flow and rhythm in it all is the most exciting part for me. At first glance, it may seem like an almost impossible task to carry momentum through a very technical section. Still, when you make it to the other side unscathed and going faster without pedaling, the adrenaline flows freely. When timing an improbable jump from rock to rock that flows as smooth as gentle ocean waves, the bike can offer an almost therapeutic experience.

Piecing it together

Have you ever ridden a single-speed dirt jumper up a hill to bang out more laps?

Have you ever bunny hopped potholes or pumped the backside of rollers on gravel roads?

Have you ever steezed up airtime off of a small roller in the woods?

Ride all the bikes. It’ll make you better while having fun while doing it.

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