September 2, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Pierce Sullivan | Photo couresy of CC Cycling Team Instagram
In the late 1960s a Marin, Calif.-based group of teenagers, self-dubbed the Larkspur Canyon Gang, were locally known for their unique optimism around the capabilities of bicycles. With extensive modifications, they found that bikes excelled off the beaten path.
This group found that they were able to tame the trails of Mount Tamalpais on their bikes. However, what was most notable about this group was their emphasis on fun. Even in their own races, competitions were always less important than progression and having a good time.
Since then, as mountain biking has grown, the culture of the sport has undergone a significant shift. Almost all media produced for public consumption by the likes of action sports websites Redbull Media House and Pinkbike center around an incredibly competitive and cutthroat sect of the sport.
What is now rarely seen is the true culture of the sport, which still teems with the energy of the Larkspur Canyon Gang. There is a lack of a cohesive culture, and instead the sport thrives on smaller groups within, which all have their own unique culture, in accordance with the spirit of the Marin teens.
It is important to note that this is not to say mountain biking culture is without flaws. Mountain biking is still filled with barriers that perpetuate an elitist, intimidating culture. In addition, the cost of entry within this sport is exorbitant at best; the cheapest bikes cost several hundred dollars and a capable bike runs the buying upwards of $4,000.
The beauty of this sport, however, is that with so many smaller groups, it is possible to enact a culture shift on a more local level. Overhauling the nature of a global sport is a tall order, but working from the ground up, as is possible in mountain biking, proves to be more practicable.
This is where Colorado College Mountain Biking comes into the picture. Although it is naturally an imperfect organization, the club is in the midst of undergoing sizable efforts to make the sport more approachable, welcoming, and affordable for all people.
The leaders of the team, as well as many members, are working hard to break down the barriers which have traditionally limited access to and participation in the sport. Sadie Fleig ’25, a team captain, discussed some of the action being taken behind the scenes to expand the sport.
She is planning on holding more beginner clinics this fall for those who have little to no experience on bikes, with the intent of making the sport feel welcoming and emphasizing the fun of biking.
Additionally, CC Mountain Biking leadership is obtaining some capable loaner bikes to start working past the steep costs the sport presents. Although OE has bikes available for rent, these are fat bikes, not true mountain bikes. Accessibility to necessary equipment is one of the largest hurdles facing those hoping to enter the sport.
Jonathan Cox ’25, an active member of CC Mountain Biking, discussed the root of these efforts.
“So many people tell me that they would like to join, but they do not have access to a bike,” said Cox.
If you are a beginner rider or have interest in trying out the sport for the first time, keep an eye out for events, from rides to bike maintenance clinics, this coming year.
If you have never considered mountain biking, I encourage giving it a shot. As Fleig noted, “Mtb is empowering and gritty. It teaches how to be strong and capable within yourself.”