As a result of getting into mountain biking more, I have begun to watch many MTB videos on Youtube, and today I ran across this gem.
It is from 1979 and it is about a Klunking race. Klunking was an early name for downhill mountain biking because those early bikes were just Schwinn newspaper boy bikes which the riders had modified with things like thicker tires and more gears. These klunkers were riding fast down terrains that those bikes were NEVER meant to go down and they had a blast. Around the middle of the video up pops a guy named Gary Fischer who eventually became one of the most influential bike designers in mountain biking. In fact, the bike I currently ride is a Gary Fischer designed bike. Yeah my 2013 Trek Mamba Gary Fischer Edition is a wonderful machine.
Those early bikes were dirt cheap and just put together from whatever parts the riders could find that would work on the difficult terrain. Mountain bikes today ARE NOT CHEAP. In fact, they are super expensive to the point that it is prohibitive to the point that it keeps some from getting into the sport.
Or at least it is prohibitive when people decide that you HAVE TO HAVE a bike with certain features. Don’t get me wrong many of these expensive features are really helpful and make mountain biking more fun and safer. I am a really big fan of suspension and cushy tires that absorb many of the bumps that are involved in mountain biking. But do you have to have suspension and cushy tires?
How do I know this? Well I know it because I have seen people riding the same trails, that I was repeatedly told to not even consider trying without a strong mountain bike with lots of suspension, on bikes that were definitely designed for nothing more than a lazy Sunday afternoon ride. Some people even get pretty snobby about telling people that you can’t actually be a real mountain biker unless you have certain specific equipment. There can be a lot of snobbery in biking.
Yes, the more expensive mountain bikes make the trails significantly more manageable, but you can have just as much fun riding on bikes that are pretty similar to those old klunkers. The bike industry has realized this and over the past few years, they have begun selling gravel bikes which are basically nothing more than expensive versions of early mountain bikes with no too little suspension.
I love the new bikes but the video of the klunkers reminds me that all it really takes to mountain bike is a desire to ride two wheels down terrifying stretches of trail. Well, that desire and good health insurance.
I think we often do the same type of thing with the Gospel. We start out simple. We repent (admitting who we are and are state of neediness), which in a world obsessed with image is a revolutionary act because it demands that we actually admit who we are in all our messiness rather than present curated “authenticity” concerning ourselves. As we repent we ask Jesus to forgive us and give us His grace. That grace is the Gospel, the “good news”. That is what it is all about.
Other things can be helpful in living in the Gospel. Yet they are never the main thing. Living in the Gospel is what life is supposed to be all about.