Allison’s Experience Learning to Mountain Bike
Having never biked much, this past summer I took up mountain biking. I learned to bike ride like most kids and I would ride around the park with my friends when I was younger but I had no experience back in the trails.
I started mountain biking in part because of my boyfriend, Ian, and also because it is a great form of exercise. In high school I was an avid swimmer, so that was my way to stay in shape all year long. Moving to Reno for college and lacking the abundance of pools and sunshine all year long like in California I was in need of a new hobby to say the least! My swimming coaches would always tell me, “elbows up to the sky.” I found it a funny similarity when Ian told me, “elbows up to the sky” when teaching me proper downhill mountain biking form. Who would have thought there could be something similar in learning to swim and learning to mountain bike!
I started road biking at the start of summer and I finally gave in and got on a mountain bike. I cannot lie and tell you I enjoyed it at the start. To be completely honest, the first time I got on the mountain bike I lasted about 2 miles, got really frustrated, and swore I was never getting on it again. Imagine a kid learning how to ride a bike and throwing a temper tantrum. Yep! That was basically me. Ian told me that I would get on it again and I would eventually like it. It is though gritted teeth that I tell you, he was right. It took me about a month to say that I genuinely enjoyed it, but he was right. I started to get the hang of it, each time it got a little easier, and I got more confident. Even after a whole summer and fall season of riding I still have a ways to go.
Before my first ride I was pretty confident in my abilities (which I soon found out were lacking), after all how difficult could it be? Well I was wrong and it was much harder. I had many fears, but my first major fear on the bike was rocks. If I saw any sort of rock I would freak out and think that I would not be able to get over the rock, even though that is what mountain bikes are made to do. After awhile though, I started to get over that fear and would go over most rocks without a second thought. There was still a rock obstacle I had yet to conquer. It was a rock garden in Keystone Canyon on Peavine. I would walk up and down the rock garden every time I went out. I can happily tell you that I have conquered that fear and most days I go over the rock garden with ease.
This was one of the first activities I have learned how to do as an adult. I had skied and swam since I was 6 and mountain biking for sure did not come easy to me. I had to realize that when learning anything new you are bound to struggle. You are not always going to be good the first, second, or even tenth time you go, but you will eventually get better.
My biggest fear on a mountain bike is falling, which is a natural fear to have. This weekend I can say that I have officially had my first fall on a mountain bike. Actually 2 falls! This weekend while riding in the Bay Area in the Lime Ridge Open Space I fell not once, but twice. I hit some sand and toppled over coming out with just a nasty bruise on my leg.
With the first falls over I feel a little more at ease.
Learning something new always comes with failures and successes and I have experienced both in learning to mountain bike.
The failures I experienced while learning were all part of the process. The successes I have had, like being able to get over a rock garden, although very small are worth it each time.
Not only has mountain biking been a fun hobby, but it has gotten me in great shape. Great shape in general and for skiing. I have been able to keep my legs fresh for skiing and build some more muscle. It has also helped me aerobically. Having the ability to climb on my bike will help my fitness out on the skin track come winter.
If you are thinking about starting to mountain bike, I highly recommend it. Give yourself a couple months to acclimate and go easy on yourself to start. Talk to people and find out where the good beginner trails are and take it slow. It’ll get easier and easier each day. If not for the great physical benefits, then do it for the fun!
Check out my other article, Best Ways to Stay in Shape During the Summer Months, for more ways to stay fit when there is no snow!