Mountain Biking: Take Two.

Mountain Biking: Take Two.

Deep in the woods surrounded by trees, I began to finally understand what made mountain biking special. Yes, it requires a lot of patience, and sure, getting bounced around doesn’t feel natural, but as I raced down a dirt path through a sea of green trees, being there just made sense.

This is not a feeling one can have while peddling away on the stationary bike at the gym, while lost in the latest episode of The Kardashians. No, this is a feeling one can only understand having spent enough time immersed in nature.

Happy to find a bench to rest on.

Happy to find a bench to rest on.

While it isn’t always easy to appreciate the natural surroundings while shifting gears, avoiding various obstacles, and trying to keep balance, that doesn’t make it any less wonderful. In fact, that’s what makes mountain biking stand out.

A few weeks ago, I had no idea why I would attempt such an activity, but after Monday, I have a better understanding as to what drew me to mountain biking in the first place.

While my first mountain biking experience was far from perfect, I have since spent some time on the paved bike trails near my house, getting used to the bike itself and building my confidence in general. This practice gave me enough courage to get back on my bike and give it another shot in the woods. However, this time, I enlisted some help.

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After reading about that first time experience, Scot, a friend from high school, reached out and asked if I wanted some help. As someone who had been mountain biking for the past two years, I knew he’d be the perfect person to give me a lesson. He also thought it would be helpful to bring along his friend, Frank, who has been mountain biking since the fifth grade. If anyone could teach me how to mountain bike and give me the confidence I needed, it was these two.

Still, I was nervous, even after we sat in the parking lot and went over the basics of mountain biking, including how to switch my gears on the trails and how to brake. I stared at the woods with some hesitation and apprehension, having no idea what to expect. Would it be like last time? Would it get easier? Would I still feel overwhelmed? I pushed the thoughts and fears out of my mind, and got on my bike. If this was something I wanted to do, I had to get out of my comfort zone to make it happen.

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We headed into the woods, and after some reassurance from the guys, I began to feel better about my decision to give mountain biking a second try. The trail also started off a bit easier than the last trail, so it was exactly what my confidence needed, even if I did ask a million questions.

As we continued to ride, I began to feel better about biking, even though parts of the trail were difficult. It was hard to watch some of the other bikers fly past me and jump over obstacles, while I rode as slow as possible on my brakes or had to walk up some of the inclines.

Learning how to switch the gears did help a bit, but the trail was still difficult and getting used to going over roots and rocks, especially while going up hill, was uncomfortable and unnatural to say the least. Sure, it wasn’t the perfect experience, but I was getting there.

Throughout the entire ride, Scot and Frank were extremely supportive, constantly offering up advice and encouragement when I needed it most. They pushed me to my limits, but also knew when to give me a break.

Thankfully, the entire trail wasn’t purely roots and rocks, and there were opportunities for me to ride smoothly while soaking in the green trees and flowering plants. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be in the woods, and the perfect way to clear my mind after all the changes and challenges I’ve experienced over the past few weeks.

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The entire ride was great, and even though it was tough, and I was tired, my favorite part came at the very end, as the sun was setting through the trees. We reached a path that was relatively narrow with a big drop, and the foliage was dense and bright green. At the moment, I felt transported to another place, and it felt as if we were in a rainforest somewhere far away. I felt at peace with myself and with mountain biking, and my confidence was finally there.

Of course, a little while after this, I took a turn too fast and fell, scraping my knee. It hurt, a lot, but no tears were shed, and I got back on my bike and pushed through the pain to finish the ride.

The after-math.

The after-math.

Maybe, I’ll never understand how two wheels can mange to navigate through the trails; maybe, it will always amaze me. But, I am beginning to understand why people mountain bike and why I am continuously called back into the woods. Something magical happens when you are speeding along through nature, something that does not happen anywhere else.

Even though it may be challenging and scary, and even though I may fall many more times, it’s because of this feeling that I will continue to push myself to get back up each time, and try it again. The huge bruise on my knee is a reminder that I put myself out there, and even though I got hurt, just the fact that I was willing to push myself to my limits, is reason enough to be proud.

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Comments (17)

  1. Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap)

    You are braver than me! I can just about stay on my bike on a flat service! Good for you. It’s so important to get out to nature too, especially when you work online all day. I always go for a walk in the park to disconnect for a while.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks for calling me brave – I still feel like it’s too much to handle. 🙂 There’s just something about being able to go outside and connect to nature that’s so nice.

  2. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    So when are you going out mountain biking again??? I admire your zest for pushing yourself to try new things!!!!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Too busy this weekend, but hoping next week or weekend! It’s fun, but so scary. Thanks, Raul! You only live once. 😉

  3. Eileen

    Interesting…maybe biking is a little like life…there’s rough patches among the smooth, ups and downs along the way, when you fall you get back up, and even though things don’t always go as planned there’s beauty to be found. Sounds like you know how to keep pedaling on world wanderer 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      It definitely is like life, Mom. Okay, this totally made me tear up, haha. I’m trying. 😉

  4. D.J. - The World of Deej

    This is about my kind of mountain biking. I went once not long ago and the guys I went with were these adventurous types…as in, “hey lets scale that huge rock thing over there.” Yeah, it wasn’t a good time…

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh boy! Yea, it scares me to go with people because I’m definitely holding them back. They were great though. I will get there one day…maybe.

  5. @mrsoaroundworld

    You are really a brave girl, Erin! When’s the 3rd adventure?

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Ana! I am trying. 🙂 Hopefully, next week!

  6. thelazytravelers

    i havent been brave enough to try mountain biking, but i DID buy a bike last summer and tried to use as much as i could instead of using public transportation. love it! xo, the wino

    1. The World Wanderer

      Wait a minute, you are so brave! Biking in Manhattan is much more impressive than mountain biking. xx

  7. Anita Mac

    Well done! I haven’t gone back to mountain biking in years, but think about trail riding! Not interested in too many roots and rocks, but the trails look like a nice way to pass the afternoon in the trees. Good for you for getting back on the bike!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Anita! It was tough, but I’m willing to give it another try. Love being in the woods, but I’m with you on the roots and rocks…ugh!

      1. Anita Mac

        You have inspired me Erin – I am giving mountain biking another try next week! Fingers crossed that there are no big spills! Should be fun!

  8. Leah Travels

    I think I’m going to have to ride a bike this coming weekend in Indy, but that will be in the city….after booze, so that’s probably the same as mountain biking right? Pray for me, please.

  9. lola

    i love biking when i have the time and the weather is good. such great exercise and a different perspective on things than being in a car.

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