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Sunday, August 18, 2013

What You Need To Know About Mountain Biking

 Biking in Telluride, Colorado
The More Forgiving Path

Mountain biking—the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I’ve done since that crazy horseback ride through the mountains outside of San Miguel, Mexico. At that horseback ride, the guide handed us a beer and a flimsy straw hat when we arrived at 9 a.m. He pointed to the horse we were to mount in a few moments. No waiver was signed, no lessons or tips given. If you had to take a bathroom break there was a small blue bucket in their outhouse. Oh, and my horse’s name was Tornado.

For three hours we galloped through steep canyons and splashed through creeks and river beds. And yes, some members of our group were in tears making their peace with God. I, on the other hand, was in heaven. 

I figured out quickly that mountain biking is a lot like riding a horse in the wild. I’m not talking about group trail rides that move slower than a hoveround. I'm referring to the fox hunting style of riding—fast and furious. Like horseback riding, you have to have confidence, control of the handlebars and the rest will follow. 

The experience of bike riding through Telluride Mountain can never be replaced. It was more than I dreamed of. I thought I might die as I plowed over tree stumps and large rocks and slid across gravel all along a foot-wide path that curved up against a 40-degree angled slope straight down the mountain. At one point I went flying off the side of the mountain within the first half mile.  I ended up hugging a tree.

Here are a few things I learned on my first intense mountain biking experience down Telluride Mountain. Again, no tips from the guide, but at least we got a helmut and signed a waiver. 

  1. It is actually better not to go slow than wobble down the mountain. That’s when you end up hugging a tree…or dying. Speed gives you more control, believe it or not, and an amazing rush.
  2. Riding a bike down a mountain is like loping a horse—loosen up or you’ll get thrown. Hanging on for dear life may cause you to lose that life. like Jello on a board, my horse trainers used to say. 
  3.  Encountering tree roots at full speed is just as terrifying as encountering large rocks. They are everywhere. Think fast. Think fast. Think fast. 
  4. Keep your friends close and your mountain bike closer.  Once we became buds, I was able to more confidently attempt to kill myself on a rock as opposed to being scared when killing myself. 
  5. Learn very quickly how to change your gears at a moment’s notice.
  6. Figure out which is your back break and your front break. If you hit the front-wheel break flying down a bumpy mountain you will launch yourself over your handlebars. Although I didn’t go over, I was halfway there.
  7. Trees are actually your friends—they will catch you when you go flying off your bike. 
  8.  HAVE FUN!

We survived and are blissfully high on adrenaline
Why do we go on an adventure? To see the unknown. To experience something new. To learn something about ourselves in the midst of a challenge. How we deal with these physical challenges tells us something about how we face other challenges in life. Me, I’m a why-not-type-of-girl.