Warning!: This post promotes the practice of shuttling
Recently I had the misfortune of catching one of Mike Hosking's self-absorbed rants (or was it Paul Henry?). Mike was discussing the innovation of self-drive vehicles and he finished his little piece by declaring that in 10 years time we'd all be driving (or being driven in) self-drive vehicles. By default I normally disregard everything Mike (and Paul) have to say, but in this circumstance I found myself thinking - what if he's right, how will that development impact my life?
Immediately my pondering drifted to how it would affect me as a cyclist. I'm certainly not the first to wonder whether this technology and these vehicles will make my daily commute by bike safer or more dangerous (you'll find screeds of hyperbole, analysis, and opinion regarding this online) but what really got me interested was how this technology might affect me as a mountain biker.
'Shuttling': to some it's a dirty word and the bane of mountain biking but to many it is one of life's greatest joys. A means to an abundance of downhill runs without the graft of the climbs. For those of us who don't live in coo-ee of a chairlift, it's our only means of sampling this pleasure. But the issue with shuttling is that logistically it requires a bit of work. The biggest complication being the requirement of a driver. This is currently usually covered by either paying to be shuttled, taking turns among yourselves to drive, or finding a kind friend or spouse to assist. All viable solutions, but all less convenient than rolling your bike out the door, swinging your leg over the saddle, and pedaling off towards the trails.
Until now... well until 10 years from now (according to Mike) at which time I am anticipating I will be driven to the trailhead in my self-drive Toyota Shuttlez micro 4x4 which will then make it's way unaided to the trail exit to collect me as I complete my run. I'll enjoy a morning... no make that a full day, of racking up downhill k's without having to worry about who is driving, or making sure everyone get's their fair share of trail time. And that's only the beginning of the potential for self-drive vehicles in mountain biking. What about that point-to-point epic that you've always wanted to do but haven't been able to find a way of being deposited and collected at the respective ends of the trail? Caught out on a long ride with a major mechanical and need someone to come and collect you...?
The scenarios are many. It's a reality that will get many hackles up, and in truth I'm of two minds myself. But it is certainly a reality that is worth contemplating as, if Mike is right and it's only 10 years away, then it could well change the nature of the sport of mountain biking. Thoughts?