I can clearly remember back to when I was a mountain bike beginner …
It all started around 2005 … I was throwing batting practice to the team and felt a sharp pain at the center of my left knee. It swelled up like a water balloon, so I had to have some cartilage scooped out. The doctor told me I could choose swimming, walking, or biking as possible exercises for rehabilitation. I tried swimming laps in our pool but found that booooorrrrriiiinnnnggg. Walking and hiking do provide at least provide a change of scenery, but they were too slow for me. I finally decided to try biking.
The perfect Bike for a Mountain Bike Beginner?… I had purchased a bike for Alissa at our local swap meet several years before. The bike had been too large for her but I had hoped she would “grow into” it. I had no idea what kind of bike it was but I thought it looked cool and most importantly, “I thought I was getting a steal.” It had skinny tires, no suspension, and weighed a ton. Anyway, Alissa never had “grown into it” so I decided I would give it a try.
The Riding … I started riding up and down all the streets in Eucalyptus Hills, our rural neighborhood. One day I looked at the surrounding hills and wondered “what is on the other side.” I also wondered if there were any “ride-able” trails out there. Google Earth showed me three different ways to get into those hills.
Unfortunately, all the trails began on private property. My first option involved riding up a driveway, then branching off between two houses. My second choice required riding up a private road with a sign clearly stating to keep out.
The third entry entailed riding up a very steep road, through a private gate (which is always open), coming within 30 feet of the house, then turning off onto a trail. None of these ways had locked gates or fences so I decided I would just ride my “mountain bike” as fast as I could across their property and see what happened (I have yet to get chased by any dogs and so far no one has yelled at me or tried to stop me).
What I found on the other side of those hills is why I still love mountain biking. I was “exploring” a beautiful area with no cars, trucks, or machines of any kind. Birds were chirping, bees were buzzing, the brush smelled sweet, the trail was orange granite and glowed in comparison to the surrounding sagebrush. It was so PEACEFUL.
I am no longer a mountain bike beginner, yet I still get excited to see where the next trail will take me and what it is going to look like. I enjoy the challenge of a steep climb and the thrill of flying through a smooth stretch. Then I can stop, look around, gulp a drink, and enjoy the scenery. The best part is I can enjoy all these things while doing something healthy for my body. I once saw a man who had to be at least 75 years old out biking. I hope my body will hold up that long. I know I’ll have the desire. Enough said about this. Let’s get a move on and talk about some trails!!