most of us started with a secondhand bike, I started in my early teens with a second hand racer going through the trails amongst the trees, wearing jeans, trainers a t shirt and a big grin.
And to be honest that is all you need - any bike will do, that is how it started out, yes I had lots of punctures, but that still seems the case for some on here!
Its not a rich mans sport, I could pick up a second hand bike today for £50 - might not be brilliant, but it'll get me on the trails.
Up until my 50th birthday my most expensive bike had cost £450 and I felt bad about spending that kind of money. For my 50th I got a clockwork s on sale for £950 - and I paid for that by selling my old bike for £250, my family and friends all chipped in £500 between them and the missus paid the other £200.
So yes, you can pay thousands for bikes, but you don't need too, especially with all the old bikes becoming available as new bikes are purchased.
And we know from on here that aldi provide good and cheap cycle clothing, but most of us use our walking / running gear for tops and shoes (well I do anyway )
So there are no financial bars for beginners / entry to the sport, its just that there is a drive from the bike manufacturers to get us to buy better equipment, which while it helps, isn't needed unless you are racing (perhaps not even then).
I guess it comes down to whether you are competitive in this "sport", do you want to race / beat everyone or just enjoy the rides and push yourself? Luckily mountain biking gives you that option, or as many options as you want.