Big Fat Tire: The mountain bike money pit |

Big Fat Tire: The mountain bike money pit

For over 20 years the Summit Fat Tire Society has been taking care of trails in Summit County and Mike Zobbe(pictured) has been there since the beginning. Why? "Cause I like mountain biking. It's totally selfish."
Sebastian Foltz / file photo |

News flash: Mountain biking is expensive. I was going through receipts the other day, and the number of paper slips I found devoted to my mountain bike was impressive. While I was too frightened to add it all up, it was obvious that I spend a ridiculous amount of money on my knobby-tired steed.

Now, I know that when compared to some hobbies, even the most expensive bicycle is small change. My dad was a racecar driver, and, even at the comparatively low level he competed in, I have nothing on him. (Bumper sticker on race car trailer: “Racing is not expensive, winning is.”) One of my sisters has made a passion for horses into her livelihood — she runs a stable that caters to people who make horses their hobby. You want to spend a lot of money, get a horse.

So, yes, there are more expensive hobbies out there, but, when I think about the money going out, I smirk a bit. This year so far, I have bought four tires, two chains and one set of carbon wheels that needed brake rotors and a rear cassette. (I could have just swapped those things off my old wheels, but I wanted the wheels to be ready to swap back and forth with my old wheels as conditions dictated.)

How much are carbon mountain bike wheels? Don’t ask. I’ve also gone through several sets of brake pads, my dropper post failed and had to be sent back for a rebuild and, when it failed, I had to buy a new seat post to get me through until the dropper was fixed. I replaced my small chain ring and my front derailleur. I need a new cable and housing set, and my seat is starting to groan like a rail wants to break, so I better replace that. I’m sure there’s more that I’m not remembering.

Most of what I just described is considered normal wear-and-tear for a mountain bike. (Well, maybe not the carbon wheels. Those were a splurge.) What have I spent on my road bike this year? Nothing. I have spent nothing. I haven’t broken anything on it, I haven’t worn out the drivetrain, broken any spokes … nothing. And, I do ride it, maybe not as much as my mountain bike, but I do like getting out on it.

An old girlfriend of mine wants to get into mountain biking. She never really showed much interest in the sport, but, for some reason, after all these years, she’s interested. She asked me for advice (or maybe I gave it to her unsolicited). The first topic was budget, and it’s not just about how much to spend on the initial bike. I also asked her, “Do you understand what money pits mountain bikes are?” Her eyes widened a bit when I told her what I spent over the last couple months. Of course, she (or anyone else) doesn’t NEED to spend that much. You don’t NEED all the pricy goodies. If you ride a lot, though, you’re going to spend some money — there’s no way around it.

And now, ski season is on its way, and I just spent a bunch of money on some rando race skis and bindings. What a maroon.

Final days of fall riding

Aspen colors are in full glory as I type. Autumn is a busy time of year for me work-wise, which cuts into my bike time. But even just a short ride though a golden aspen tunnel as the evening sun streams though will make me smile. I think we probably have another week or so until the leaves are off the trees, so I hope folks are out enjoying it. It’s getting close to that time of year when we start thinking about snow instead of singletrack in the high alpine, so if there’s one High Country ride you’ve been thinking about but haven’t gotten to yet, now’s the time to make it happen.

After the leaves fall, then it’s time to head to the desert for autumn road trips. Moab, Fruita, Eagle, Durango, New Mexico, Arizona, even the Front Range all have at least another six weeks or so of dry, snow-free riding. Time to load up the car with the camping gear and hit the road.

An autumn tip: Not only should you keep arm warmers, leg warmers and long gloves in your pack, but it’s also a good idea to wear bright colors or even a hunting vest, especially if you go to popular hunting areas. Most hunters are pretty thoughtful about where they shoot, but it never hurts to be smart. Leave the deer antlers at home.

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