Recently a friend asked me why I started mountain biking.
Partly because they didn’t understand the appeal on its own (they’re not outdoorsy), and partly because my becoming a mountain biker appeared to accelerate out of nowhere.
“Honestly, I don’t know that I could explain it,” I laughed. “It’s a lot like running in that it just popped into my consciousness one day and hasn’t left me alone since.”
Truth: I don’t even really like riding bikes.
But I really didn’t like running either (I still don’t!)
One random day while living in Hawaii, I got the urge to start running.
I ignored it for a very long time, but it kept nagging at me.
So one evening, I went for a run, and I hated it.
I was slow and miserable and didn’t understand the appeal. I honestly couldn’t even make it three-quarters of a mile at sea level on a downhill road. It was pitiful!
But I didn’t stop.
I slowly began running farther and finishing silly 5K’s like The Color Run or The Zombie Run. I walked/ran the Great Aloha Run, an 8.15 run from downtown Honolulu to the Aloha Stadium, before moving away. And I began perpetually training for a half-marathon at higher elevation when I got back to Colorado, getting as far as 6.1 miles once without stopping (the equivalent of a 10k)!
I’ve yet to finish a half-marathon or fall in love with running like most runners seem to talk about, but I still do it. I’m still called to it for reasons I can’t explain, and it’s changed so much for me in so many areas.
Running came into my life during a time of enormous transition, both personally and professionally, and it brought me a steadiness and focus that I sorely needed. It took my attention away from “I need to be skinny” and put it on “I want to do this really cool, really hard thing.” I started eating cleaner than ever with joy, drinking more water, and being vigilant about my sleep. I had a schedule. I cross-trained. And I got to be outside more frequently at a time that I wasn’t very outdoorsy.
I felt strong and accomplished and so proud of how far I made it, even if it wasn’t all the way to the end goal.
Mountain biking feels very similar.
I’m not particularly enthused about riding bikes, let alone riding them over dangerous terrain. But in the same breath, I’ll also tell you that I have the most fun ever!
Truth be told, I’m not all that coordinated since PTSD seemed to sever much of my mind-body connections, and I honestly haven’t ridden many bikes since well before my loss in 2014. So, it’s not the easiest of things for me when you also add in bumps, dips, rocks, tree roots, and lots of uphill climbs.
But here I am, the proud owner of a new-to-me mountain bike, an on-brand purple helmet, and some snazzy polarized shades I never remember to wear. Plus a bike rack for The Rig that I put together all by myself!
What’s even more wild? I also bought myself a stationary bike and am taking peloton classes to get in shape and train for mountain riding.
Who am I?!
Well, I’m a person who trusts her whims to lead her to places she’d never find otherwise. Running never made sense on a conscious level, and neither does mountain biking, but I keep leaning in anyways. I keep opening my mind and pushing my limits, letting the experience lead me wherever it’s meant to take me.
Sometimes our whims are about the thing themselves, and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re meant to be stepping stones to people, places, and experiences we’d never reach without them. All I know is that they matter, even when they seem totally absurd and out of left field.
So far, this whim has been all things amazing and expansive.
I love pushing myself on the bike, I’ve learned so much (so quickly), and I’ve expanded my window of tolerance for doing hard things alone.
Yes, I can ask for help and am meeting more and more people who would happily show up for me in whatever ways I need. Yet, there’s been something really special and magical about this being all mine. I’ve spent so much of my life in relationships that a lot of what I did or learned was influenced by the men in my life. Or there was always someone “built in” to ask for help.
But mountain biking is all mine.
I decided to do it and made it happen quickly.
I found myself a used bike that would fit my needs.
I built my rack and made adjustments when it when it got super wobbly.
I researched all the gear, read all the blogs, and looked into all the clinics.
I took the bike out and bumbled down those first trails all by myself.
Yes, other people are involved and will continue to be involved as I find buddies to ride with, but this will always be mine. I did it alone, for me, because I wanted to.
I stopped waiting for other people to help me figure it out, make plans to start riding, or come along and make it feel easier and more comfortable.
I’ve also met the most amazing people since I started mountain biking.
Seriously, everyone I’ve met has been so kind and genuine.
I found a fantastic bike shop when I started having issues shifting into certain gears with the friendliest group of guys who answered all my questions, made me giggle, and were so warm and inviting. And the second someone learns I bike, they ask me if I want to go riding on some amazing trail I’ve never heard of!
I haven’t said yes, yet. But I will soon. Right now, I’m still trying to get my balance and coordination and up my wind and endurance. I’ve mostly been riding at elevation where it’s cooler (I’m talking 10,000 – 11,000 ft), so I don’t think it will take long to stretch my lungs back into shape!
My bike is old, but it’s a great model for a beginner trying to get her bearings.
And thanks to all the incredible humans I’ve met and all the nights I’ve spent researching, I know I’m knowledgeable enough and will be in good hands when I’m ready to upgrade to something newer and lighter very soon.
I want to take skills classes, go to bike parks, and learn to jump and drop and all the things. There are so many trails near me that I’ve heard are unbelievable, and I want to be capable and equipped enough to brave them before I move away.
So that’s why I started mountain biking. There’s nothing quite like flying through the trees alongside the wildflowers.
I believe this is only the beginning of an incredible journey.
My whims have never led me astray, and I can feel how much biking has activated other things inside of me. I want to have a life filled with incredible adventures, and what I’ve done so far around biking has me feeling even more confident about navigating everything else (whether that’s on my own or with new friends). And I’m even more trusting that there are such good humans in the world to meet, explore with, and lean on. People who want to do the same things as me, prioritize nature and play in the same ways, and are laid back and nonjudgmental with beginners.
I can’t wait to share more of this journey with you!
Looking for recommendations?
Here’s some of the gear I bought for starting out:
*Please note, some links are affiliate links.
- Exclusky MTB Helmet for Adults
- MAXXHAUL 50027 Hitch Mount Platform Style 2-Bike Rack
- HuwaiH Cycling Gloves
- WOTOW Bike Tyre Repair Kit
- CoolChange Polarized Cycling Sunglasses Full Screen TR90
My bike is old, and discontinued. But you can shop similar bikes at Diamondback!
I’ll share more resources as I have them!