How I Got into Mountain Biking – Twice.
I always imagined mountain biking as an extreme sport: flying off jumps, rock hopping or balancing on a narrow log bridge – the threat of injury always a misstep away.
I first tried mountain biking 25 years ago in Moab, Utah, the original mountain bikers’ mecca. I did my best to follow gung-ho friends on sandstone routes, and ended up walking a lot, but that was fine. Besides, it was a great way to enjoy the rust-colored, rocky beauty. It all ended with a brief visit to the ER – not me, thankfully – but one of those crazy friends had to get stitches. Soaking in a hot tub at the end of the day never felt so good!
Now, as an older cyclist, I am more cautious, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try new adventures.
After an amazing afternoon at Kingdom Trails in 2019, I realized how much fun it was rolling on single-track, weaving around trees, negotiating small hills and wider bridges – nothing too technical – it suited my two-wheeled wanderlust just fine! This was not dangerous, but gentle exploration on a comfortable bicycle. What a revelation!
After that, getting a mountain bike was on my radar for a while. It took the pandemic, relocating to a home near a town forest with trails, plus an extremely crowded multi-use path, to have me heading to Vermont’s hills for solitude.
In the fall of 2020, our youngest son helped me choose a bike. With limited local supply, I was lucky to get a bicycle at all! I spent the autumn exploring trails as the leaves changed color and puddled beneath my knobby tires. I rode two to three times a week, alone or with our son and his friend, once venturing to leaf-covered Cochran’s Trails in Richmond, Vermont. It gave us a real challenge in navigation – we got lost – but eventually found our way back on track to descend at sunset.
I went by myself to ride Waterbury, Vermont’s Little River State Park’s easier trails, and discovered how much I like curvy single-track.
Every new adventure teaches me something – sometimes it’s just to bring adequate water and a snack! I have a lot to learn, but there’s no hurry. The trails are out there, waiting for me to slowly pedal through Vermont’s lovely landscape.