So many of you may remember my last attempt at mountain biking on a technical level, from my post Sometimes Being The Best Isn’t The Best For You (and Other Lessons Learned on Dupont Mountain). And then this winter I purchased a lovely Trek Lush 29’er from Wheat Ridge Cyclery (can’t say enough about these guys, amazing shop!) and now that the snow has melted, I have begun my journey into mountain biking.
Don’t get me wrong, I love road cycling. When my legs are spinning, my feet dancing upon the pedals as I speed along against amazing backdrops, it has my heart. Even when my lungs are on fire and my legs ache as I climb, I adore my road bike. The sport of road cycling pushes me to my physical limits constantly, which I enjoy.
All the rigidity of the road is lost on the trails, from the bike itself to the banked dirt paths to the gently winding terrain. There are no lengthy climbs taxing your endurance, instead an ebb and flow of climb and descend that keeps your heart racing constantly.
I have spent the last few days getting comfortable on my new bike riding the local trails, once solo and twice with much more experienced friends. After my months on my road bike (and cross) I am struggling less and less with the physicality of mountain biking. My struggle is purely mental. Logically, I know these are the same size wheels that I ride on all my bikes, that if I can make sharp turns on my cross bike I can do the same on my Lush. I know if I shift my weigh back I can descend steep terrain easily. I know this…until I stare down a singletrack switchback descent from the summit. I stiffen up, unable to move my body with my bike to maneuver these obstacles.
After spending months becoming one with a rigid unmoving aluminum frame of a Trek 2200 road bike, I couldn’t allow my body to embrace to fluidness that is mountain biking. So yesterday, as I rode the trails with a good friend, he stopped and asked, “Are you a skier or a snowboarder?” I replied “Both, but mostly a boarder these days.” And he went on to explain what he had been told years before, that mountain biking is like snowboarding, all about the flow, no sharp turns like skiing, all about riding along with the curves of the earth. And it clicked.
I have in no way mastered this sport, have possibly made my first baby step towards competence. But the excitement is there! As I walked out the door this morning, I turned to my ever lovely Lush, and, in the words of my favorite movie, said, “I think is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”