As a mountain bike instructor and also a user of CushCore, I’ve had the pleasure of mountain biking a variety of riding locations, with a fairly diverse mix of people, and have experienced different ways these people see themselves or set goals regarding their riding.
I enjoy teaching people how to ride better, and I also enjoy the protection that a tire/rim protection system – such as CushCore – provides whenever I am out on my bike. Now, this may seem like a plug for both these products, but it’s not. I’m simply observing, reflecting on my experiences, and calling out some uncanny similarities between these two things.
- Helps you ride technical stuff – this one is fairly obvious. You will shred smoother, faster, and harder over certain trail features that you previously might have had second thoughts about. Think of rim-denting, tire-burping, low-traction situations you might be in… now imagine yourself smashing through them with less brakes and more confidence.
- Absent bling factor – no one is gonna go “Wow! Check that out!” the same way you expect they do after you drop a small fortune to rock out next year’s newest/limited edition/fancy colourway frame or a fully tricked-out carbon wheelset. Sure: dropping over $200 for MTB riding lessons or a tire/rim protection system might seem like an extravagance too – given that there will be nothing outwardly visible to show you decided to invest in that extra ‘something’ to improve your ride. And on that note…
- No one will know – unless you prominently display a sticker provided by the company that up-skilled you / produced the protection system, no one is going to notice – or care – about how you feel riding now compared to your previous way of riding.
- You probably do not know how many times it has saved you from disaster – if you ride often enough, and push the limits of yourself and your bike frequently, you will be familiar with the advantages of solid bike handling skills the same way you confidently plough through the gnar while rocking your tire/rim protection and lower-than-normal tire pressures. You would just know that without it in demanding riding conditions, you would probably have been… slower? More hesitant? But here’s the caveat…
- It is not a magic bullet – fact: mountain bike skills and tire/rim protection products do not make you ‘crash-free’ or invulnerable to wheel damage. A rogue tire-slashing pointy rock, an errant tree branch, a misjudged speed, or a missed line choice – all these are things that can defeat the best of us if the dice of chance are rolled often enough. Invincibility is a false expectation; instead, think of good bike skills and a good tire/rim protection system as things that give you a larger margin to practice good judgment and situational awareness.
- ‘Everyday Joe’ riders will probably tell you about it – people who ride mainly for fun and enjoyment (and that’s the vast majority of us) will share their experiences regarding the benefits of the training / of the product if it works well for them. If they have not already put the stickers on their bikes, they have probably written a positive review on said product/service’s social media page, and shared it with their friends. Their regular riding buddies would probably have been the first to know when told about it at the local trailhead.
- ‘Elite’ and ‘sponsored’ riders may not tell you about it – there are many instances of pro riders using tire/rim protection systems at the highest level of competition who are unable to tell their fans and followers about it. It is due to sponsorship obligations, maintaining good relations with wheel/tire/sealant manufacturers who support them, and the confidence of their team principals. The chief worry is having athletes purchase and install an add-on system as insurance and sharing this advantage with the public. This will ‘make the other sponsors look bad’; seeming as if their wheel-related products need a little extra help to not fail in race conditions. If a tire/rim protection system is not part of the official sponsor roster, few – if any – athletes are able to publicly endorse or review it. It is not any stretch of the imagination to deduce that the same can also be said for mountain biking skills lessons. To anyone who has a secured racing sponsorship / brand representation, or who simply fancies themselves the recipient of ‘secret training’ they would rather not let their buddies/rivals know about… you’re probably nodding your heads now, because it’s true.