Hang out with any group of enthusiasts long enough and you soon learn they each have a language all to their own. Slang for their passion that outsiders often find confusing or hard to follow. Many of these words crossover or get adopted by other groups. Skaters, surfers and bikers all cross pollinate terminology that best fits their particular discipline.
When it comes to mountain biking the well of unique nomenclature runs deep. Lingo such as “gnar,” “yard sale,” “KOM,” “shred,” and “rip” all bounce around the room of any respectable after ride meal. One of the more interesting pairings of terms attentive eavesdroppers might hear are that of “old school” and “new school.”
“Old school” is used to describe that which has always been and does not necessarily need to be changed or improved upon. It is generally the idea of simplistic perfection. The less is more type of approach. “New School” however is just the opposite. An abandonment of the old ways. The understanding that technology pushes advancement and in turn greatly improves whatever one happens to be describing. The terms can be stapled to just about anything in regards to mountain biking. From bikes, riding styles, apparel, pedals, trails and even people.
But which is better? After all, evolution pushes the sport forward. Allows new riders to find mountain biking more appealing. Why would anyone elect to hold on to the past? The reasons for choosing one style over the other are different for everyone. This is part of the reason pedaling knobby tires creates so many different sub cultures.
Labels like cross country, enduro or single speeders just to name a few. In fact, it may seem at times the only thing riders have in common is their love of the outdoors and that all bikes have two wheels.
The divisions however are mostly illusory. A preconceived perception that riders of different interests can’t possible understand where the other is coming from. Some choose to climb all day on frames without any suspension, welded by hand by some artist buried deep in his workshop for days on end perfecting the craft. Others look for the most aggressive terrain possible, partnering with gravity to push their carbon fiber technological masterpieces downhill to the brink of some sleepless mathematical virtuosos’ design.
The truth is the technology underneath the rider is not what the experience is about at all. Everyone guiding a handlebar will find similar challenges and flow. Each earned summit will bring with it deep breath and pounding heart. The adrenaline rush of nailing a flawless apex or floating perfectly through a rock garden will bring the same smile across ones face. The creek crossings, wild life sightings and unspoiled sunsets are what brings us all back out into the Prescott forest time and time again.
The ride after all is about just that… the ride. The experience. The feeling one gets from just rolling along and exploring the twists and turns they find along the way. So be sure to wave and remember we are all having the best time ever regardless of the school we choose to attend.
Steve Reynolds is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Instagram at @Prescottopia. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.