I don’t have many of my own photos to accompany this post as I forgot my good camera and my hand-held camera’s batteries died after only a couple photos. So I stole a few photos from fellow mountain bike riders.
Beyond that you’ll have to use your imagination and picture a group of about 30 women of all ages, many who had never mountain biked in their life, riding on a narrow trail that wound through dense trees and passed over roots, rocks, logs, and sand. You will have to imagine the “whoops” of excitement and encouragement filling the air as woman after woman made it over an obstacle they weren’t quite sure they could handle.
Before I was in the know, a mountain bike was a popular bike that many people own and ride. For the most part, I see them ridden all over the city streets. I knew that fat tires allowed you to ride on dirt and gravel, but I was still picturing wide, nicely groomed trails. I had no idea that there was such a thing as mountain biking done on a single track with hills and obstacles. I kind of knew about such a thing, but thought of it as some sort of dare devily extreme sport that only a select few participated in.
I started to garner a bit more knowledge when I started reading Romping and Rolling in the Rockies, but since KB is riding her bike and taking photos of what’s around her, I still had no real concept of what this kind of riding was like. My friend Sue took up the sport, and all I knew is that it sounded dangerous and difficult — something that I wouldn’t be able to do.
I found out differently on Tuesday. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m good at this sport. There are levels of trails. I was on the easier ones. The surprise was that mountain biking was something I could do at all.
If I got in trouble, like got too close to a tree or lost my balance on a pile of rocks, I could put my feet down. I had brakes. I could take it slow, although, in many areas it would have been easier if I’d been going faster.
The point is, I could ride the trail in my own clumsy way and have a blast doing it. Could I get hurt? Certainly. But you can get hurt crossing the street. My theory is to learn as much as I can and practice to be as safe as possible. After that, you just enjoy.
Right now I have a hybrid bike – part street bike and part mountain bike. I bought it when my skinny-tire, lean-over, curled-handle-bars bike started hurting my back, shoulders, and wrists.
I brought my own bike to the event but did not end up riding it, which is a good thing because if I had, I don’t think I would have liked mountain biking very much. Ramsey Bike had several styles and sizes of mountain bikes at the event for women to try. They also offered a 10% discount if a woman from the event buys a bike from their store. Very cool!
I rode a Trek series 4 — I think it was the 4300 with disc brakes. I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made riding on this bike! I felt so centered, balanced, and secure on it. Of course the bike doesn’t do everything for you and I had my share of bobbles but it rode so nice. I mean, I cannot stand up on my hybrid bike and pedal. I thought this was because I’m uncoordinated. On the Trek bike — no problem standing and pedaling. Can you tell that I want one?
I was in a group following Sue. Her tips made a big difference. Hopefully I have this right: I learned about keeping my elbows out for balance, keeping my pedals positioned horizontally aligned to the ground so one pedal wasn’t down where it could get hooked on a root or rock, to put my weight back and out of the seat when going over an obstacle, and to go to the outside of a curve and then cut across. Not that I was able to always practice what I was told but the tips literally saved my butt.
Another plus of the event was that Ramsey Bike was there and they worked on my hybrid bike to stop the brakes from rubbing and get the gears shifting better. Yeh!
In summary, I am still on an excitement rush. It was so great meeting other women who were willing to try something new, to face their fears, to risk looking foolish, and to whoop for joy at the realization that, “Oh my gosh! I can do this!”