The Life and Style of Riding
This past weekend, over 200 kids raced at the first New Hampshire event for NEHSCA (the New England High School Cycling association), held at Highland Mountain Bike Park. An amazing milestone event for future generations of riders, as well as a barometer for youth interest, the event was a huge success.
This simple gathering of like-minded people sparked so many thoughts and reactions, all of which were encouraging. Kids who had never been to a bike race were suddenly immersed in the culture and camaraderie of the scene... A scene, which for many; has become their first foray into lifestyle sports.
For me, it was a bit of a time warp, since 25 years ago, I was much like these kids who have recently found mountain biking. I did the usual sports growing up, but the instant acceptance and support I experienced at my first bike race was simply unmatched. All these years later, I still keep in touch with the guy my parents randomly parked next to at my first race, at age 13. Wrap your head around that for a moment. This random "stranger" took the time to show me where registration was, and pre-rode the course with me, giving me tips along the way. A moment I have never forgotten.
Perhaps my favorite reactions (from the event this past weekend) were actually from parents, after seeing their kids creating relationships like the ones I describe above. Like any parent, they strive to teach their kids perseverance, focus, and to build a platform for longevity. So many parents were simply amazed this existed within bike racing, and on a similar high to the one I experienced all those years ago.
So much evolution in the past quarter century, but the stoke is the same as the first day it was found. Organizations like NEHSCA have given a whole sense of new life in the lifestyle of riding. Likewise, the style part of lifestyle has also evolved. Back in the day, you rode in all spandex, like the road riders of the era. It wasn't cool (or comfortable) to walk around in your gear after the ride. At best, you may have left an event with a t-shirt that had a few logos, but nothing that really allowed the style of the scene to cross over into everyday life.
As things have evolved, companies like ZOIC Clothing have addressed the need to make functional clothing, that is comfortable for all day adventures, as well as offering a subtle expression that lets people know you ride once you are off the trail. Versatility is truly one of the best things about ZOIC gear, and the very reason it integrates so well. The great thing is, they offer this for men, women, and even kids, so whether you find yourself at a local event, or the local coffee shop, you know they have your lifestyle covered.