Even though I am a flatlander living in Central Florida, there are actually some pretty decent mountain biking trails pretty close to my crib. Most of these have been created from the remnants of the phosphate mining industry and the mountainous stacks of sand and dirt they left behind. I haven’t had the luxury of trekking on any true mountain biking trails and it might be like comparing snow skiing in North Carolina vs Colorado, but it gives me all I can handle.
Mountain biking/trail riding was something I always had an interest in and even tried it a few times with a tweener bike, but if you are going to do it proper you really need the right equipment and of course it takes somewhat of a financial commitment to get there.
After using a loaner for several months and knowing this was more than a passing fancy for me, I bit the bullet and bought the real deal. It was love at first site; even though my new girl friend can be quite contrary at times.
Even though I’m just a little over a year into this thing, there are some certain truisms I feel I can share at this juncture with some authority.
The 3 truths mountain biking taught me
- You will wreck; not every time you hit the trail but trust me, you will crash and burn. And everybody I talk to has either crashed and burned or knows someone who has. I know people who have quit riding just because of the wrecks; hmmm, should that be a sign?
Skill level doesn’t matter either; in fact, the better the rider usually the more spectacular the crash.
The crashes can occur when you least expect it too, on areas you would think as non-hazardous. I don’t know if it’s lack of concentration or what, but my 3 nasty spills were on very nondescript areas you would normally have little to no trouble negotiating.
And maybe it is my age, but every big crash is just like a mini-car wreck; you definitely feel it for several days afterwards. And do you know how hard it is to get a tired ass adult body off the ground?
2. Your fitness level will increase substantially. If it doesn’t kill you first.
Since I have started I have dropped 10+ lbs; then again, some of that weight is from the skin I have lost skidding along the trail…:). Of course, the 100% Florida humidity and middle of the afternoon riding does its part to help too. Just make sure you bring plenty of water.
I am probably about 5-7 lbs from my ideal weight and all my vitals are in the better than average range, so for an old fart like myself, this should be worth something, right?
As long as I don’t have to look at you on the beach.
Beach? Well, between the cuts, scabs, scrapes and bruises I’m not exactly Mr Body Beautiful, but at least I am in shape. Maybe I will just plan on retiring the Speedo then if I’m asked to leave the beach.
3. It will replace other hobbies you have.
My hobby du jour prior to mountain biking was golf; and it is not necessarily that I was looking to replace golf on my schedule, but now with two broken hands I have not been real eager to grab a club and swing it around for 18 holes. Fortunately I have just enough grip strength in both hands to still ride my bike.
That’s just crazy talk.
How long can this last?
Who knows, I am still enjoying it and have come to realization it’s like a NASCAR race every time I go riding; sometimes you will finish the race and some times you will get tangled up and kiss the wall or flip upside down.
Personally, I feel my skill level has increased tremendously since I have started riding and truly did not expect to be picking myself up off the dirt like I have lately, but I think it’s an anomaly and not the norm. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
Or either I am just too thick headed to know when to quit; which is a very distinct possibility.
I think it’s a great hobby and diversion from the normal ways to stay fit. Yes, you can be safe and remain on the flat beginner trails or you can venture out to the more difficult ones. At the end of the day I would recommend you try it at whatever level you are comfortable with, and if you buy a really expensive bike and decide afterwards it is not your cup of tea, just let me know as I might be in the market to take it off your hands.
Until we meet again.