Is it Time to Update the Meaning of MTB Progression?

The author standing on the edge of a cliff looking out over a desert valley.
"Solitude is independence." - Hermann Hesse

Progression. Not being content and keep pushing your limits to what you can do on the bike – getting faster and stronger, hitting the gnarliest lines, boosting the biggest air, landing the tricks you can do – is progression. To many, it’s an obsession. Google “mtb progression” for a second and the first thing that pops up are riders hitting jumps. “Send it, bro” – that’s the thing nowadays.

Fact: The faster, the gnarlier and the bigger you go, the more risk you’re asking for. Is it fun? Sure. Is it worth it? I don’t know. That depends on your ability and how much you value what you have in your possession.

Let’s face it, though, not all of us can totally “send it.”

But is that all there is to progression? I think not.

Randy riding his bike on a skinny log.
Building skills takes time and patience.
Randy giving a high five to a fellow rider after an enduro race.
Good times keep the fist bumps going.

Progression is being able to know the difference between tube and tubeless and be able to fix your own flat. Be the most mechanically inclined.

Progression is having the patience to learn the basics. It takes time to build self-confidence to get comfortable at something. Get to know yourself. Observe others. Ask questions. Be curious.

Progression is knowing when to say no. It’s okay to walk your bike. Injury sucks. Be smart.

Progression is finishing your ride unscathed. Again, injury sucks. Be healthy. Be rad.

Progression is going riding comfortably on your own and being alone with your bike to enjoy nature when your friends aren’t around to roll with. Be independent.

Progression is adventuring to unfamiliar places and get lost on your own, and have the confidence in yourself that you’ll find your way back to get back where you started or know where you’re headed. Be brave.

Progression is leading a ride and sharing your knowledge, but at the same time be open-minded if you get corrected. Be that someone that others want to get a tow from. Be inspiring.

Progression is giving respect to other trail users. No one likes an asshole. Be that someone that others want to associate with. Be courteous.

Two of Randy's friends walking their bikes through some rough terrain.
It's OK to walk your bike.

So just because you can’t hit the gnarliest lines or hit the biggest jumps doesn’t mean there’s no room for progression.

One pedal stroke at a time.

Progression is being a better version of yourself today than who you were yesterday.

Find your Crew.
A wide view of the Sedona desert from a high vantage point.
Impromptu solo trip to Sedona, eating up all the views.
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When Randy was 10 years old, he'd wake up at 4 a.m., hop on his bicycle and sell fresh baked breads from his aunt’s bakery to neighbors in rural parts of the Philippines. He enjoys solo mountain bike night rides whenever possible after working all day at the office. He thinks the best rides are the unplanned rides; the adventure rides, the ones where you don’t know what to expect. Randy's favorite trail is Gridley in Ojai, CA.

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4 thoughts on “Is it Time to Update the Meaning of MTB Progression?

  1. Randy, you inspires and motivates a lot of us, and thank you for always sharing your mtb adventures, and sharing what you know about mtb riding and hitting gnarly trails, you have thought me since day 1. thank you Mr. Barcena, you have really grown to be a very inspiring mountain bike rider to all of us.

  2. Very nice article Randy! Keep doing the great stuffs on mtbking. We appreciate your commitment and passion on this sports. More power to you and to the whole crew of Pearl Izumi.

  3. Love this! I’ll never ride a knarly feature or jump off of anything, but I have PROGRESSED way beyond what I ever even dreamed of in the last four years of mountain biking.

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