Mountain biking ≠ mountain biking

On the varieties of cycling in the mountains

Mountain bikers are often seen as the hooligans of the mountains, reckless and destructive. But that is a simplifying view, as the mountain biker species is far too diverse to be characterized in just a few words.
In the following I will introduce the different subspecies of mountain bikers that I have encountered over the past 25 years of cycling in the mountains. Every mountain biker has a preference for one or more of these types of mountain bikng. But all of these variations have their place if we treat each other and nature with respect and tolerance and only intervene to regulate where there are actually problems.

The occasional off-roader

I like to ride my bike to get some exercise and enjoy the landscape. I like to ride along a river or around a lake. I try to avoid busy roads. I therefore like to switch to gravel roads or paths that are not too bumpy. I don't like it too steep, neither uphill nor downhill. Sometimes I have to push the bike for a few minutes, but I would never carry it. I respect closed paths as long as there is a reasonable alternative. I'm not averse to e-bikes because they expand my ability to ride longer distances and explore more of the landscape.

The long-distance cyclist

What drives me is to get from place A to place B over a route of several hundred kilometers. This can take a few days. Yes, Transalp and all that. For me the journey is the destination, but so is the landscape. I like it when it is demanding, but it shouldn't be too difficult - after all, I'm traveling with luggage. Uphill I rely on asphalt and gravel roads - these can be steep; there can also be one or two not-too-steep single trails. I love trails as long as they're not too technical; otherwise I prefer gravel roads for the descent. Asphalt roads are a necessary evil. I respect banned roads and paths if I know about them in advance or if there are alternatives that don't disrupt my planning too much. I like to torture myself, but I could imagine using an e-bike because it helps me achieve ambitious daily legs, even if I run out of bio-energy.

The approach shortener

For me, the mountain bike is a means to an end. Whether it's a hiking, climbing or ski tour - these often require boring approaches on endlessly long forest roads. I hate that - on the climb and even more on the descent. Fortunately, this problem has a solution: the bike. I treat people along the way in a friendly and respectful manner. I don't understand the point of banning cycling - I'm not bothering anyone. I ride as long as I don't have to push the bike. There is the starting point for the actual tour. I think e-bikes are great - I can get there even faster that way.

The bicycle mountaineer

My goal is to climb a peak or pass and then have a great descent, which I have earned through my own muscle strength. Riding downhill without having made any effort is self-deception. Discovering and planning new routes gives me a feeling of excitement. Planning is everything. Hardly anyone else has ridden the single trails that I ride - and probably only a few will do it after me. I try to avoid asphalt roads when going uphill; but I still want to get to the summit in a reasonable amount of time. For the expected great descent, I'll accept one to two hour stretches of carrying and pushing without complaining. An e-bike makes your legs weak and trains your biceps. I see myself more as a hiker than a cyclist. I therefore only respect cycling bans if there is a good reason for it: for example, busy paths that have been mistreated by erosion. Busy - but that's not where I normally go. I love being lonely and in great surroundings. There are no limits to the technical difficulties that I expect to encounter, including exposed sections. I ride with light equipment and defensively - if in doubt, I just dismount. I treat people with respect and minimize the traces I leave behind in nature.

The downhiller

Uphill is not my thing - I'm an adrenaline junkie: steep, fast, always at the limit of what's possible. I ride the same route over and over again until I get the most out of it. I know that this is not good for the paths and that this sometimes leads to problems. Hikers don't particularly like me when I rush around the corner unannounced. If my favorite route near home is closed, I may have to create a new one myself. I think it's good when separate mountain bike routes are created to avoid conflicts with hikers. I'm happy to use routes like this if available. I think lifts are great so that I don't have to waste my time pedalling uphill, carrying my full protective equipment. I can also sometimes be seen in trail parks to improve my technique. But then I go back out to the real mountains, where there are long downhill runs. Usually I don't have much time to enjoy the landscape.

The fun parker

Kickers, drops, steep curves and shores make my pulse rise - faster, higher, and ever more thrilling. I‘ve grown up in trail parks. I'm fine taking a lift uphill, so I get to ride a lot – downhill, of course. For me it's about the artistry, about the work of art - me, the route, my performance. With protective equipment, of course. A great scenery is not so important.

Last update: 28 April 2024

Legal Notices