I tried to explain my love of mountain biking to a friend this weekend.
He couldn’t understand mountain biking, this obsession with singletrack that he keeps hearing about.
Mostly from me.
“Why not just ride dirt roads?” He asked. His point was well taken, we have hundreds of miles of dirt road around us and I travel about 90 minutes 1-3 times a week to ride trails (thank you CRNEMBA for over 80 miles of amazing trails!)
“Because dirt roads are great in all, but they do not feel like riding a trail,” I answered.
I was very proud of my explanation, thinking it cleared up everything.
He shook his head, saying, “You aren’t even going anywhere most of the time. You are just riding trails.”
“Exactly!” I nodding enthusiastically, happy he understood.
He still looked pretty confused.
So, I tried to explain what it is like to ride a flowy trail…one particular trail comes to mind that is just perfect…it winds through the trees and the Carrabassett River flows beside you…Your senses are all engaged – you see the trail rise and fall and flow in front of you through the trees, you feel the bumps of the trail through your bike, you smell the woods, water, and dirt, you hear the river, and the crunch of dirt as your tires roll, and, and most of all, you feel something in your soul.
When you are standing on the pedals, looking ahead, and the bike is moving under you…You learn to trust yourself in a way that you never have before.
How do you get this across this to someone who hasn’t experienced it?
What do you say to make someone understand the feeling of being terrified of riding bridges and then one day, you come up to a bridge…and you just decide to ride it…because you are sick of walking that crap and then you MAKE it across without incident and suddenly, bridges (at least that one) are a little less scary.
There is nothing like the way it feels to bike a trail you were walking more than riding a month ago. The elation of riding that tight switchback that you walked the last 2 times you were on that trail. The “BAP BAP BAP” sound of riding fast over a rock garden that you are not sure it is going to work but it somehow does and so you keep looking ahead, shifting your weight, reading the trail, trusting yourself and your bike.
Going to a new place and exploring the trails and getting in way over your head and laughing about it with your buddy, telling her she totally could have made that jump. The feeling of being terrified of group rides because you know you are new and going to be slow…and finding a group of amazing, patient, supportive awesome people who don’t care that you are slower but are just happy to see you out there trying.
How do you put those things into words in a way that someone feels that experience too? I guess you just can’t, some things you have to live to understand.
I am not sure I convinced my friend to give mountain biking a try, but in my attempt to explain it to him, I realized that mountain biking has opened up a whole new world for me and makes me really, really, happy.
Thanks for reading!