The following is a blog post I wrote for the Shred Sisters mountain biking group whose goal is to get more women out on mountain bikes, and promote the passion that comes with it. I wrote a post a few months ago that is similar to this, but I figured I would share this one too since, well, I love writing and I love my bike. Plus it’s my blog so I can do whatever I want.
I hated mountain biking. I had never done it before but I knew I hated it. I knew I wouldn’t be good at it. I knew I would fall off the bike, I knew I would hurt myself, and I knew I would look stupid doing it.
My first attempt at riding my bike off a paved trail was in Jasper, Alberta when I was 25. I managed to ride my bike about 50 feet on the trail before getting so nervous I had a mini emotional breakdown. “Why would anyone ever want to ride their bike on a rocky trail where you could get hurt?! Are these people crazy??” I was shocked that anyone would ride on anything other than smooth, safe, concrete.
I chained my bike to a tree and continued the rest of the way on foot, all the while exclaiming “How is this even a biking trail? Look at the size of that log! I can barely walk on this! So glad I ditched my bike!”
Fast forward ten years to Nelson, BC. “Let’s rent you a bike and go mountain biking” my boyfriend said. “You’ll like it, I guarantee it” he told me as we were driving to the bike shop. All I could think about was the previous meltdown so many years ago. I was terrified but I managed a “Can’t wait to try it!”. He believed me.
At the shop, I was surprised at how friendly everyone was. They knew I was a newbie but they didn’t treat me like I was an idiot. They took the time to explain things to me and I felt a little better.
The lady at the counter gave us advice on which trails to ride. She used words like “singletrack” (what the hell is that?), rock slab (oh my God, there’s rocks big enough to be called slabs?), and full suspension (wait, wait, so I’m going on trails that requires a bike to have bounce in the front AND the back?). I felt like I was in way over my head, but she assured me everything was awesome. Yay.
The image I had of myself rolling gently along a perfectly flat and smooth trail while birds and other wildlife creatures played around me, was quickly shattered as my boyfriend and I started our ascent up the dusty, dirty gravel road to get to the trailheads. I would spin out on the rocks, hit my shins on the pedals of my bike, and curse at how stupid this was. This scene repeated itself for what felt like hours, but in reality was about 30 minutes.
We came across a trail marked “Goosebumps”. It wasn’t on the map but we decided to try it. My boyfriend assured me that anything I didn’t want to ride I could walk my bike around. I like walking. I’m good at it.
At first I was scared, but once I realized I had more control than I thought (my brakes really did slow me down, the bike does go in the direction you steer it), I relaxed and discovered I had a huge smile across my face. I felt so free whizzing down that trail in the middle of the forest surrounded by nature. My soul felt happy and I was hooked.
I came home, bought a bike, and signed up for lessons. Best decision I ever made. The lessons taught me all the things I didn’t know (so basically everything), and put me in touch with women who were there for the same reasons as me. I could feel my self-confidence growing and I looked forward to every moment on my bike.
Now, I love to ride. And I love riding with people who are new to the sport and discovering getting off the paved path for the first time. I know what it feels like. I know that fear of the unknown and the thoughts of thinking you can’t do it. Guess what? If I can go from temper tantrum in the woods, to riding over logs and rock slabs then so can you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get hooked like I did. Maybe it will make your soul happy. You never know until you try.
If you are a lady interested in taking courses or simply want more information about this fantastic and supportive group, go to the Shred Sisters website at www.shredsisters.ca. Check it out and learn how to push your limits!
Have you got a story about your first time biking? I would love to hear it! Was it exciting? Was it life changing? Or did you swear you would never get on another bike? Send your stories and share the love.