Mountain biking; is it dying a death?

Banstead Woods, Stick People.

Stick People at work

I'm not really sure what the Stick People hope to achieve in doing this, the laying of twigs on a trail. Personally I think they verge on being mental, the need to possess beyond reason. Banstead is common land, open to all. The people laying the sticks appear to want to actually take control of the place. Yet they do it in this odd, passive-aggressive manner that just makes them look daft. 

Balancing tree.

Fallen tree balancing on one end

Well I found it impressive!

I mean, come on!

I found it impressive. I am in a minority though, as I've not found anybody else that interested!

What has happened to mountain biking?

It seems to me that the sport has died a bit of a death. Only three magazines now, and they are getting slimmer with each passing month. None of them are really worth reading. You have to travel to find a bike shop, and then they tend to be small affairs, with hardly any stock. Even on-line there's little interest, with dedicated web sites from enthusiasts being updated infrequently, if at all. The local ones, Diary and the Moles, are pretty much extinct. Out and about in the real world, locally I hardly see anybody now. Have to go to the hot spot of Leith Hill to see the big groups. 

It's almost like it was back in the early 1990's, when meeting other mountain bikers on the trails was a bit of an event. Certainly locally - on some rides I don't see anybody out on a bike at all. In the late 2000's there'd be big groups out, with up to 20 people. There'd also be lots of solo riders cracking on. Sure there's evidence of cyclists out and about; tyre tracks here and there. Nothing substantial though.

Where has everybody gone and why? I've no idea. Perhaps it is getting expensive, or elitist. Or perhaps people look at the magazines, and think not. Some are dedicated to doing things that end in pain, which always alienates people. One magazine seems to think the sport is about riding far flung places that take a week or two to get to. Product reviews are a laugh, where each item seems to involve spending a days' pay; £7k bikes, £260 jackets, tyres that cost £70 each and are weather specific. 

The activity certainly isn't what it used to be. For a start there's a lot of animosity towards riders on some trails. Walkers pretending not to hear bells or spreading themselves out on the trail, blocking progress. Dog walkers with either lose dogs, dogs on those silly extending leads, or that odd sort that look at you as though you want to have sex with their dogs - what's that all about? I used to think only I held that view, yet I've been out with other cylists who have come to the same opinion. Freaks me out a little, and I'm guessing the same dog owners perhaps lay down sticks on the trail? I'm always polite, always slow down, and do try and avoid walker hot spots - yet I'm always left wondering why I bother.

Perhaps the general public have seen enough mountain bikers to now think that we are a strange bunch. Middle aged men on muddy bikes? Get a life! Go play golf. Perhaps they are right. Sometimes it does feel odd, this cycling in circles, looking for mud and getting all sweaty. I spent £1,500 on my new bike, and broke it within four rides. Try telling people that!

It's a great sport, and ultimately harmless. It's been good to me, and I'm not stopping any time soon. Just feel that I'm cycling against the tide. I think it has gotten too complex for a lot of people. Dropper posts? What do they do? No inner tubes?? Come on! Where are the gears? How big are your tyres? That's not a 26" bike is it? Why are your handlebars so wide? I bet that's expensive!

Or my favourite; grow up, get a life!