Postscript – Unfortunately, the video that is the basis for this post was removed from public viewing a few weeks after this was posted – it was a real gem for those who were lucky enough to view it before it was taken down!
This engaging MTB video of Dan McMunn’s MTB Life is an entrant in the Shimano Video competition and is a stellar example and timely reminder for all – that riding a bike should be a joyous addition to life, one that is shared with those you care about, and it should be a way of enriching your quality of life, relationships and self.
Dan MacMunn is a well respected and accomplished Australian Endruo rider and all round good guy hailing from Spring Gully in Victoria. I have known Dan for a number of years now and I have followed with interest his impressive rise during the 2013- 2014 Victorian Enduro Series and his sojourns racing Enduro overseas.
I love the genuineness of this video; it is remarkable in its simplicity and celebration of the everyday life. I often hear (many male) riders complaining about all manner of family commitments, or partners who don’t ‘let’ them go riding or having to work too hard (and the list of excuses goes on).
Which is why this video is so refreshing. It embraces all those elements that others say hold them back from riding and highlights the domestic as something that is beneficial, encouraged and valuable to being a good rider. I also really appreciate that this video recognises and brings to the fore Dan’s family members as being integral to his riding experiences – the imagery that his kids are never far away from him, that biking is a shared experience and not undertaken as separate to those close to you, or in isolation from who may not be as competent on the bike as you.
For me, this insight into Dan’s life is not only interesting because it is frankly personal, but also that it is consolatory of those who support him to ride. Family members are often positioned as silent second fiddles to bike riders and are usually only publicly recognised when thanked by their rider on the podium. Which is why I like this video so much, as it openly acknowledges Dan’s appreciation for the everyday unification of the familial and the sportive aspects of his mountain biking, which I find is an often unrecognised and underrepresented factor as to what makes a rider.
Families, kids and partners are often represented as being, at best invisible (or maybe supportively cheering on the sidelines at races), at worst hindrances that ‘take time away’ from riding bikes. A case in point is an interview Dan did with Australian Mountain Bike magazine, which gives intricate details of his adventures and travels competing riding and leading up to him competing in the European World Series (EWS) Enduro Circuit, which is really inspiring to read. However, towards the end of the article is a single line by itself reading ‘Dan’s recently become a Dad, but still plans to compete again next year’. Aside from the paltry recognition given to his family that Dan has ‘recently become a dad’, the further statement ‘but he still plans’ to keep riding insinuates that your riding life is over if you have kids – what a crock! – as this video well demonstrates!
Surely riders like Dan are better riders because of the support of his family – not in spite of it. (No mention of course that his partner is also a highly decorated rider, who is a champion Australian Elite women’s XC racer and that they both ride hard, love the sport and give back to the biking community, but I suppose this particular article is specifically about his riding experiences). Either way, my point is that family members of bikers are rarely given the prominence or framed in such a positive, fun and integrated way as in this video – so kudos to those who produced this video!
It also signifies a more salient aspect of riding – it is proof that riding a bike is so much more than being fast on trails and that a true champion rider is not just skilled on the bike, but off the bike as well.
Dan McMunn is a fantastic advocate and ambassador for the biking lifestyle; a killer pinner on the trails, a sincere and principled man, dedicated to his family, work and community and all round honourable and solid man.
I can only hope the rest of us get to experience the obvious joy and happiness that Dan derives from both his riding and his family – what a positive change that would be.