Mountain biking can get under your skin. It’s more than just a casual diversion from the day–to–day plodding human condition; it’s life affirming, it’s pleasure and enjoyment, with the amusement of a game but with the reward of effort and achievement…
From Dirt Issue 137 – July 2013
Words by Seb Kemp. Illustration by Jon Gregory.
For most readers of Dirt, mountain biking is more than just a hobby or pastime. You are the core natives, not just an audience. Dirt is just a microscope and telescope to the actions of your kind; your deeds and exploits create the air with which Dirt can breath, not vice versa. Basically, mountain biking is your crack, your Tina, and your Precious.
Perhaps many of you are considering turning your burning hot love of mountain biking into your full–time romance. If you are considering making it your bean earner then read on for a quick rundown of possible careers in mountain biking…
Working in a bike shop
Whether working solely Saturday’s, smarming through sales in the front or stuck out back in the oil coated wilderness of the workshop, bike shops offer a great introduction and ending to your bike infatuation.
Pluses: Cost–plus–ten on product, being surrounded by fellow nerds, and being paid to be a conceited, pompous, twat to strangers for eight hours a day.
Downsides: Limited career promotion options, being paid barely enough to move out of your parents’ home, and very likely, becoming a salty old bastard.
This is the dream of many mountain bike kids. Fact is, you need talent, skill and dedication. Oh, and it helps if your parents are rich enough to support you for years while you “make it in the big leagues”.
Pluses: Travel, doing sod all and expecting the world, free shit, late nights and late starts (if you are content being an under achiever) and “following your dream”.
Downsides: You will have to face the fact you suck every weekend, one day you will realize you never did make it and now you are in your late-twenties and have no valuable qualifications or experience for a prospective employer. Oh well, at least your parents are loaded.
So you have a God complex that forces your trumped–up ego to believe what you have to say is more important than it really is? You love bikes and want to spurt your poisonous tripe to anyone that listens? You should be a writer. What’s that you say? You aren’t qualified, only have a basic grasp of grammar, or no idea what you are meant to do? No worries, it didn’t stop me.
Pluses: Free shit, free travel and a free–range approach to work hours.
Downsides: Eating beans on toast when not on ‘assignment’, having to be hard–wired to your laptop, and realizing if you want to work for a magazine and have a steady job then you will have to kill a dinosaur.
“Look at all the purdy pictures. They is nice. I should be able to do that.” If you like pictures then it doesn’t mean you should consider a career making them. Mountain biking is over saturated with cameramen. It doesn’t need many more. If you do insist on “making a career out of it” then just use Martin, Perkin, Lorence, Lucas, Fredriksson, Manley, and Barham as your benchmark. If you aren’t at least as good as them then just don’t bother.
Pluses: Travel, doing what you love, being an artist, mingling with pros, and always hoping that one day you will capture and sell one image that you could retire with.
Downsides: Camera equipment is really, really expensive, getting up early and going to bed late, not having a routine work schedule, taking shots that you hate but people love, editors mis–crediting your work, getting shafted on photo rates, and finding your work has been ripped off and being used by some spineless, Taiwanese catalogue company.
The ultimate biker bum job. You can travel the world, be a hero to your clients and ride trails that you could only ever dream of riding. If you have no attachments or commitments in your life then I recommend this kind of work for anyone wanting to link their passion and their work life.
Pluses: Travel, bike parts, getting some ‘qualifications’ and becoming part of a global network of friends and likeminded bike bums.
Downsides: Riding at a pedestrian pace will kill your soul, never a day off, chronic fatigue, living in squalor or out of a bag, being responsible for the well–being of strangers, and having to ride your bike when you really don’t want to.
Most people go through all the above jobs before reaching the top of the ladder and getting an ‘industry’ job. It’s not necessarily the best job, but there’s not much option if you want to own a house, get married and start a family.
Pluses: Steady pay with benefits (healthcare and pension), feeling a part of ‘it’ and being the true decision maker…ish.
Downsides: Office life, corporate culture, not riding your bike enough and hating yourself for growing old.