My boyfriend has a mountain bike!
I am really excited by this. I love getting off road on the mountain bike but in the past two to three years the roadie has taken over. Peterborough is not in a hilly part of the UK and so my lovely On-One mountain bike took a back seat. Recently though, I’ve been taking it out on the forestry tracks around our new home where there are a few small trails, which boast a handful of berms and rock gardens. It’s a nice and gentle introduction back onto the scene.
I find that with mountain biking if you’re out of action for a while (aka – two to three years) you lose a lot of confidence. I used to be out with the downhillers in university – albeit, not anywhere near their level. That aside, it meant I pushed myself trying to keep up. I’ve had many falls on the mountain bike, some of which still haunt my memory and one of which I still bear the grit-filled scars of, but bikes are the best way to explore and off-road is undeniably more exciting. The mountain bike is so different to the road bike in many ways. The saddle is lower and the handlebars are so much further apart. It’s simply a very different style of riding but gradually I became better.
Then I left university and other things over took in my life, such as work and I found a phenomenal group of people who road biked. I went mountain walking and running, too. The mountain bike stood neglected in place of the roadie.
Where I am now, the nearest trail centre is over an hour away and, as I said, I had many other things to occupy my time. I happily went about filling it with other exciting adventures. Then, one of my road friends bought a mountain bike and we ventured out on a ride to our nearest track – Wakerly Woods. It was a far cry from the trails I used to ride but after so much time, it was a good and safe option. It gave me a really comfortable and fun ride to get back into the swing of riding my bike again, while it gave my friend a solid introduction to the basics of riding off road. Suddenly, just like that, I remembered how much I loved it. But still, the roadie took priority.
Another year passed and another friend bought a mountain bike. I saw his photos and found myself longing to be back on the trails again, too. The rest of our group started showing some interest and now, as of January 2017, everybody has a mountain bike. To say I am excited is an understatement as this bodes so well for many of exciting adventures to come in 2017.
But first, basics need to be covered again.
We set out on cloudy and muddy Saturday morning so Tom could get used to his new bike, learn how the gears work and how to tackle some simple obstacles on the trail. It felt so damn good to be out on the trails with him but besides from being able to spend our time doing this together, it gave him an idea of what was to come when we visit a trail centre (plans in action).
My first go on my MTB was down a blue trail in Bike Park Wales. It truly terrified me. Sure, it got me slightly hooked on the adrenaline but at the same time, it was undeniably scary and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I don’t think I could unwrap my hands from the bars when I got to the bottom because I had simply be gripping too tightly.
So, wanting to avoid a similar experience for Tom, we repeated the small pieces of single track again and again and again, just getting used to how the bike rolled over the berms and over rougher terrain – just as well they were fun little tracks. It was good practice and confidence comes quickly as you get used to the bike. It just shows how fantastic cycling/ biking as a sport is – you can dip your toe back in at any time you want. It’s so accessible to everybody.
Here’s to having a good ride this weekend, too. After all, practice makes perfect.