Mountain Biking Addiction

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

March 27, 2024


An addiction is an activity that one engages in repeatedly in spite of it harming oneself or others. Mountain bikers often acknowledge their addiction, but shrug it off. As with addiction to drugs, they can only rid themselves of their addiction with the help of other people who are not addicted. Even mountain bikers who have accidents that turn them into paraplegics (or quadriplegics?) often try to continue mountain biking, using bikes that don’t require the use of their legs. The existence of addiction makes it imperative not to expose children – who are too naïve to understand its dangers -- to mountain biking. Teaching children to mountain bike is child abuse! See also


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Why is mountain biking so addictive?

Ask anyone around me what I am obsessed with and they won’t hesitate to tell you that it is most definitely mountain biking!

And I’m certainly not alone in this, as the sport continues to explode in popularity around the world, mountain bikers everywhere are sharing their stoke with their friends, family, and anyone else who will listen!

So why is mountain biking so addictive?

There are several reasons that are widely agreed upon, and actually backed up by science in many cases:

More to mountain biking than adrenaline?

You may notice that beyond the adrenaline inducing side of the sport, many of the things that mountain biking brings as it’s strongest assets are the same things which modern “always on” city life has diminished for many people – whether that is a connection with nature, or the mental space for a quieting of the mind.

Over the years I’ve been into all sorts of hobbies and interests, and you might argue that some of these are going after some of the same things – take for example video games. These routinely are designed around overcoming challenges, and rewarding increasing skill. Some are designed very much to be played with friends.

However in my years of experience of gaming, very few if any have resulted in a calming of the noisy chatter of the mind, and while flow state can be achieved, it is noticeably less tangible than when combined with physical movement and an element of adrenaline and the survival of real challenges!

Likewise the social interaction and building of friendships I would argue is more meaningful when all are progressing through real-life challenge (and danger) together.


Can I mountain bike too much?

Of course not. Well… maybe.

I’d like to say that I haven’t found that limit yet myself. But perhaps I’m just telling myself that, blocking out the times I’ve fallen asleep on the floor after getting home from a huge day on the bike, body completely spent and mind looping POV footage in my dreams of swooping through berms and charging down trails.

As with any intense physical exercise, and particularly those which include an element of danger, it is indeed possible to completely exhaust your body and mind through endless laps at a bikepark or climbing giant mountains.

While this might not be the end of the world in most situations and can usually be solved by a cold beverage, a hearty meal, and some solid couch time after the fact, there is no doubt that getting too thrashed can increase the risk of injury – something we each need to weigh up for ourselves.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time mountain biking can tell you about times they’ve started making dumb mistakes on the trail when they’ve been exhausted. And as we all know with mistakes come injuries sooner or later.

Why do mountain bikers keep trying to get everyone out riding anyway?

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve urged to get out mountain biking – friends, family, acquaintances… They’re all fair game! So why is it that it’s quite common for riders to try and drag unsuspecting “non bikers” into their world of shin flaying pedals and muddy teeth?

It all comes back to the addiction of mountain biking.

I know for a fact how much of a positive difference riding trails has made in my life, and the instant destressing effect it has, how energizing getting better and faster and more confident as a mountain biker feels.

Wanting other people around you to share in all the awesomeness and discover a new exhilaration and level of fitness seems entirely natural to me, and it’s super rewarding to see others getting into it in a big way after their introduction to the sport.

So is an addiction to mountain biking a good thing?

Out of everything that it is possible to be addicted to, most people would agree that a sport is one of the better things to get hooked on!

But there are always two sides to every story, so let’s weigh up the pros and cons:



So what does an addiction to mountain biking lead to?

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

It turns out that problem is that you don’t have enough mountain bikes.

Thankfully this can easily be portrayed with a mathematical equation. The correct number of bikes to own is N+1, where N equals the number of bikes you currently own.

You may want to print out the following handy checklist and tick off the bikes as you add them to your rapidly overflowing garage.

Mountain bikes owned:

Obviously you may find that you are required to get multiple types of each mountain bike – long and short travel, alloy and carbon, and so on.

Your significant other may not understand the need for what they incorrectly perceive as “too many bikes” – so naturally you’ll have to clarify how vital each bicycle is for its specific purpose, at length.

Feel free to discuss in minute detail every strength and aspect of each bike, and accompany this with wild gesturing and excited whooping. Your significant other should see the error of their ways within a few hours, freeing you up to begin researching your next bike.

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About ShredTrail

Hey! I’m Matt, the creator of ShredTrail. I’m obsessed with mountain biking (I ride a Santa Cruz Bronson v1), and whether I’m out riding in the mountains, or my local trails at the bikepark, I’m in my happy place. On this site I try and share my mountain biking obsession with as many people as possible. Enjoy!,%2C%20ethnic%2C%20and%20socioeconomic%20groups.


Do You Have Mountain Biking Dependence Disorder?

Mountain Biking Dependence Disorder (MBDD) is a common but serious condition in which an individual is physically and/or psychologically dependent upon riding a bicycle upon the earth’s natural surfaces. MBDD occurs exclusively in avid mountain bikers and affects all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. While it is mostly seen in adulthood, there are some case

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Mountain Biking Dependence Disorder (MBDD) is a common but serious condition in which an individual is physically and/or psychologically dependent upon riding a bicycle upon the earth’s natural surfaces. MBDD occurs exclusively in avid mountain bikers and affects all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. While it is mostly seen in adulthood, there are some case reports of children at high risk for MBDD, suggesting a possible genetic component.

MBDD causes symptoms that affect the way a rider thinks, feels, behaves, and relates to others and his/her surroundings. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and, although most cases are chronic, there is a high incidence of acute MBDD psychosis, often leaving the afflicted unable to cope with life’s daily routine.

15194369_10209957775454126_3242340788380359756_oThe maddening effects of MBDD upon construction of trail. Photo: Bob Heimbuch.

Signs and Symptoms

If you experience the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from MBDD:

·         While riding, states of feeling overly happy, “high,” or elated for long stretches of time, evidenced by a distinct facial disfigurement wherein the corners of the mouth appear to connect to both ears

·         Unkempt appearance such as: grime under the fingernails, mud behind the ear(s), or a characteristic greasy mark on the right calf resembling a chain ring

·         Evidence of self-harm, such as: history of broken clavicle, scarring on shins, or trauma to the hand

·         The need for markedly increased amounts of riding to achieve stoke, or diminished stoke with repeated rides of the same type, length, or technical level

·         Rides that last longer than intended (aka, epics)

·         The desire to ride results in a significant increase in time, effort, and financial burden to satisfy the need, while reducing the person’s social, occupational, or other recreational engagements

·         Riding continues despite inherent physical risk

·         Delusions or fixed beliefs in light of conflicting data evidenced by statements such as:

o    26″ ain’t dead

o    Fat bikes are the greatest revolution in the history of mountain biking

o    If it wasn’t Strava’d, it never happened

o    The minimum bikes one should own can be solved by the formula, n+1, where n is the number of bikes you currently own

·         Knows his/her bike’s torque specs better than children’s birthdays

·         Hoards old, odd, and obsolete, bike parts citing “just in case” as an excuse

·         Acutely aware of exactly how many days have passed since last ride

·         Significant other is acutely aware of exactly how many days have passed since last ride based on the rider’s level of anxiety, irritability, temper, and general moping

Unlike other substance dependence disorders, those who suffer from MBDD feel no guilt or remorse after riding their bikes, nor do they feel the need to cut back or control the number or length of occurrences. Also, unlike any other psychiatric illness, MBDD is highly contagious.


Risk Factors

·         Lives in close proximity to continuous stretches of narrow trail which primarily consist of dirt, but may also contain a varied mix of rock, root, water, and man-made features such as wooden walls, tabletops, gap jumps, etc.

·         Having one or more mountain bikes in the home

·         Demonstrates thrill-seeking, adventurous behavior

·         Lack of spousal oversight

·         Strong affinity for the outdoors

·         A score of 5 or more on the MBDDQ (see below)

Screening Tools

MBDD is considered to exist in degrees of severity rather than a categorical absolute. In other words, the question isn’t whether you are dependent on mountain biking, rather how far along the path of dependence you have progressed. The severity of mountain biking dependence can be quantifiably assessed using the Mountain Biking Dependence Questionnaire–a self-administered, 12-item diagnostic test. The MBDDQ does not look at any other areas of mountain biking-related harm. Answering “yes” to at least 5 items on the MBDDQ suggests serious risk for MBDD while an affirmative response to 8 or more items is considered a strong indicator of severe MBDD. Anything in between is left to the discretion of professional counsel, where further evaluation may be needed.

IMG_0104This MBDDer continues riding despite inherent physical risk and increased financial burden

MBDD Questionnaire  

1. Have you ever felt an overwhelming need to ride the morning after an epic ride, just to feel normal?

2. Do you find that the travel indicator of your fork and/or shock is frequently bottomed out over the course of one ride despite normal suspension function and properly-set sag?

3. After 3 days without riding, do you become irritable, restless, feel worthless, or have a markedly diminished interest in all other daily activities?

4. On a weekly basis, do you fail to do what is normally expected from you because of mountain biking?

5. Has a relative, friend, or doctor ever been concerned about the amount you ride or suggested you cut down?

6. Do you become annoyed, bitter, or resentful towards those who are concerned about the amount you ride?

7. Do you obfuscate recently-purchased bike parts, gear, or complete bikes for fear of rebuke from your significant other?

8. Do you skimp on tipping the waiter, complain about the price of gas, or call up Comcast after the smallest rate hike, but not so much as flinch at a $250 price tag on a bike part that saves you 25 grams?

9. Is your bike worth more than your car?

10. Is the time you spend not riding your bike consumed by buying more stuff for your bike, reading reviews about other bikes, or buying more bikes?

11. Can you translate the following? 150mm, 29″ (27.5+ compatible), solo air Pike RCT3 with 110x15mm Boost, 551 A-C, 46 offset

12. Do you use a toothbrush more often to clean your bike’s drivetrain than your teeth?

IMG_9350MBDD renders one useful to nothing more than riding a mountain bike


There is no known cure for MBDD and, throughout the short history of mountain biking, failed attempts in treating those living with this disorder have no more than left caregivers in a wake of frustration. While seizing the mountain bike would seem to be the most definitive treatment, it is not without serious consequence, as abrupt cessation from mountainous riding in chronic MBDD can lead to sudden and worse behavioral symptoms, or a related condition known as Mountainous Bicycling Withdrawal Syndrome (MBWS).

As close observers of the maddening effects of MBDD, we at Singletracks suggest that treatment revolve exclusively around supportive measures. It’s been this author’s experience that the very devices, attitudes, and behaviors fueling this disorder are the only ones that, if tolerated and accepted by others, will help MBDDers the most.

In other words, rather than trying to cure MBDD, embrace it. Better yet, catch MBDD like the cold and join us!


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stumpyfsr Minnesota // 2011
on Jan 11, 2017

Good stuff! Wish only this and similar disorders bother us for the rest of the life.

   0       reply

Tim Roache 2017
on Jan 12, 2017

I can finally put a name to the condition I have!

   0       reply

Paul Loeffelholz Ontario // 2015
on Jan 12, 2017

I can relate to this insanity !.. even buying only orange bikes for years so it always appeared to my wife that i had the same ride, until the bike store called my house some how and let her know my new frame was in .
This winters solo / trail night rides with falling snow and way negative temps.
Eat all receipts before leaving the store ,and if its needed for warranty its hidden deep in the garage....


   0       reply

Greg Heil Colorado // 2008
on Jan 11, 2017

I'm having a hard time deciding which article is better, this, or the bro-brahs!

So funny!!

   0       reply

kay oh 2016
on Jan 13, 2017

It's bruh.

   0       reply

mongwolf Mongolia // 2011
on Jan 12, 2017

Mountain biking is the good meph. One hit and you are hook. Ride on !!!!!!!!!!!

   0       reply!-057106.jpg

bikerboy15 California // 2016
on Jan 11, 2017

That looked like a lucky shot of the poor guy who looked like he was about to nail himself.. LOL :)

   0       reply

IwantmyMTB1999 Florida // 2016
on Jan 12, 2017

This needs to be added to the DSM-6!

   0       reply

Joel DH North Carolina // 2016
on Jan 11, 2017

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....................................................................This one is better or as good as the bro article!

   0       reply   


Tagged: humortrail talesculture

First published January 11, 2017 @ 4:05:44

Mountain Biking is highly addictive.


What makes riding so addictive?

jakeridesspecialized  Discussion starter

44 posts · Joined 2010

#1 · Feb 9, 2010

What do you think makes bearing the hot, cold, wet, and dirt so much fun. Why is riding so fun? Im only 15 but I am addicted to mountain biking. I always want to ride or think or talk about bikes, so I want to hear your stories. What do you think makes riding so addictive?


7 Signs You Need a Break from MTB Riding

By Martin Atanasov3 at 7:11 am5 min reading


We are all addicted. There’s no shame in admitting it. The thrill of speeding down a narrow track, the excitement of clearing a feature for the first time, the adrenalin when you are mid-air after a jump. It all gives us such a rush that we simply can’t live without it anymore. 

However, this behaviour, though fun, is definitely not healthy. Well, not mentally, at least. It can affect your personal and professional life, and it can definitely ruin your relationships. It’s good to know when to stop. Here are 7 signs you need a break from MTB riding.

1.   You had one too many falls

Before deconstructing the mental issues of MTB fanatics, let’s get the obvious physical limitations out of the way. Your body needs rest. Even though MTB is not strictly related to massive amounts of pedalling, it’s pretty demanding. Actually, a technical downhill section will take a lot more energy than any climb, as it activates a lot more muscles. Typically, your back joins your hips in an effort to maintain balance and shift your weight. In addition, hands and breasts are activated when jumping and going through rough terrain, and finally, your entire body is stressed out during the ride down.

Regardless of your fitness or stamina, fatigue is something that inevitably takes hold of you. If you continue to push your body relentlessly, it will inevitably stop performing as well. Naturally, this will lead to an increase in falls and the risk of injuries. So instead of disregarding this obvious sign that you need a break, it’s best to take your body’s advice and take time off. If you don’t, your body will force you to do that with an injury.

2.   All you think about is biking

If we leave behind the obvious physical limitations of our body, we need to be able to notice some mental signs that we are way past a healthy obsession with riding the slopes. A very clear sign is constantly thinking about biking. You are looking at your work monitor, and you are thinking about where you can ride later. You go down some stairs and think about what line you would take with your bike. You see some construction sight and wonder if they will let you have some fun with your bike inside. If biking is all you think of, regardless of where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing, it’s time to take a break. The best way to get your attention away from riding the mountains is by reading a book or doing some work that requires your brain. This is the first step toward controlling your MTB riding obsession.

3.   You have no other hobbies anymore

Another sign you need to stop biking for a while is if you have no other hobbies. Of course, that’s actually a consequence of always thinking only about your bike and the next hill you’ll be descending. Still, most people have at least three hobbies, which they alter depending on various factors like free time, season, and more. However, if your only pastime is MTB riding, you must get yourself together. You can still give most of your time to bike riding, but you must have other passions, like chess, board games, dancing, reading, or anything else that comes to mind. Chances are, before you began your descent into biking madness, you had at least a few other hobbies. Try to remember the joy they brought you and try them once again. It will immensely improve your social life.

MTBIs it time to take a little break for you? © Profimedia

4.   You ride for Strava, not for fun

Speaking of social life, ain’t Strava the best social media? Instead of showing off an artificial life, it only values your own achievements and lets your friends know how much you’ve improved your results. That might be, but Strava might become a trap you shouldn’t fall into. If you start going out for a ride only to show off in Strava,

 or if your entire ride is devoid of any joy if you haven’t beaten your last record, that’s a clear sign you have your priorities messed up. Having goals is fine. It’s actually great if you strive to improve, but that shouldn’t rule out having fun. The point of riding a bike is to enjoy it, to be thrilled about your day out, to love the wind, and to enjoy your surroundings and the company. If you start being more concerned about your Strava results than having fun, it’s best to have a break for a while and rethink why you started riding in the first place.

5.   You miss out on opportunities because of a ride

It’s essential to remember that riding your MTB is fun. It’s not an obligation, and it definitely shouldn’t be a top priority. So, if you miss out on professional or personal opportunities because of bike rides, it’s obvious you have a problem. The best way to deal with this is to leave your bike for a while and rethink your priorities. A good example is to weigh how much the bike ride gives you compared to the missed opportunity. If the missed opportunity would have granted you the funds to upgrade your gear or bike, then obviously, you made the wrong choice. Still, money is not everything, and if you start putting your bike rides in front of your family’s needs, then you should definitely quit while you still have a family. Ask yourself, have you ever missed an opportunity to spend time with your child because you desperately wanted to go out biking? If so, give your bike some rest and give your children a go.

6.   You are way too aggressive on the track.

Naturally, giving your family the attention they deserve doesn’t mean you should never go for a ride. However, when you are on track, you need to remember that you are there to enjoy the ride. Getting too aggressive is definitely not wise. Being constantly aggressive on the track might be a sign that you need to give your bike a break.

So, for example, if you constantly swear at slower riders or you throw a tantrum because you weren’t able to beat your previous record, that’s a sign of addiction, and you need to quit while you can. As you are well aware, MTB riders are a friendly bunch, so if you are mean to other riders or pedestrians, or you take them over way too close to passive-aggressively show them they are in your way, it’s best for everyone to just take a break from the track and not tarnish your name for no good reason.

7.   You start using cycling analogies in casual conversation

Finally, you must ensure your bike riding is not spilling into your everyday conversations. Using MTB slang on the track is one thing. But, using it in professional or everyday conversation is worrying, to say the least. So, for example, if you try to explain to your boss that your department will experience some fiscal troubles in the next quarter, it’s definitely not a good idea to say, “We’re gonna need some serious suspension to handle the upcoming fiscal drops and jumps in the next quarter.”

Or imagine you are flirting at a club, trying to hit on someone. Saying, “Hey there, gorgeous. You’re like a sleek carbon frame, all smooth lines and curves. Mind if I take you for a spin?” won’t have the effect you are hoping for. Well, you can try it. Who knows. Still, most probably, it will sabotage your chances. So, naturally, you need to take a break from biking and have some time away from the sport altogether. It will be highly beneficial to your mental health and social life.

Riding your MTB is meant to be fun. However, no obsession or addiction can ever be fun, so be aware of crossing that thin line that will ruin not only your fun but your entire life as well. Instead, keep your MTB a joyful hobby and nothing more. This way, you will definitely enjoy your time with your trusted two-wheeled steed.