1st MTB Experience

Winter came for a visit again, thanks to whoever invited it.  With riding plans this weekend, my standard dropped to “Just be dry, please!” as I begged on all fours.  Even THAT was too much to ask for!  This morning, I woke up  to a thin layer of snow in my backyard, trees swaying in the strong winds, and ominous clouds.  As I ate breakfast while watching my dog happily lick the snow off my porch, I pondered how my fate of riding was diminishing exponentially by the second.  Then the snow storm came, translating to the cancellation of any rides for the day.  The next hour was spent pondering which felt worst: Cycling in 46kph wind under rain-snow mix & temperatures feeling like -7C; or the disappointment of cancelling a highly anticipated ride, my 1st mountain biking experience.  The latter was worst.

With temptations on the rise, my pal Garry and I decided to go for it.  Off we went to Hilton Falls in Milton, offering 33.5 km of trails.  I didn’t know what to expect as someone who has only ridden on roads.  My closest resemblance to trail riding was gravel or someone’s front lawn.  Hilton Falls 001
Our 1st obstacle was 2 unleashed dogs as we entered the trail who paid no attention to their owners’ calls and surrounded us.  With my lack of bike handling skills, I thought I would create my 1st roadkill.  Fortunately for the canines, today wasn’t my day to break records.  It was refreshing to be able to ride on rocks, twigs, roots, and branches without worrying.  I must not make it a habit though, unless I want a flat when I return to road riding.

Hilton Falls 002

Then comes riding over fallen trees which was too technical for me, resorting to carrying the bike over them.  That was fine except my hand slipped one time & I landed on the top tube on an area which would’ve been painful for a guy.  Some mud riding added a nice touch; I was glad I wore sweaters and sweat pants for easy cleaning, just throw everything in the wash later and be done with it.Hilton Falls 003Although the trail was deemed the easiest in the area, it was a good wake-up call to improve my bike maneuvering skills.  There were numerous times when I spotted a nice path to ride on, only to ride parallel to it in a ditch.  Riding straight was another issue that I knew beforehand from road riding, but became more apparent on trails.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to ride on a good path, only to veer off midway onto rockier sections.  Quick sharp turns on an incline was another skill I lacked.  This was a fun introduction to MTB, especially for a stubborn roadie such as myself in the past.  I’m glad I finally expanded my horizons which may also mean expanding my bike collection soon ….

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15 thoughts on “1st MTB Experience

  1. I found the trick to getting comfortable on the single track was picking a good line, not necessarily bike handling skills – and road riding was a huge boost to good trail riding. To learn how to pick my line I road behind someone who was vastly more experienced than I was – I tried to not only follow his line but understand why he picked it… Once I got that and could pick my line, everything made sense and the pieces fell into place. Good luck and I hope you get to a place where you can love trail riding. I find it a wonderful change of pace and enjoy it thoroughly.

    • It’s definitely a wonderful change especially since I enjoy hiking. So going back to a place I enjoy and on a bike is a bonus. I rarely rode in the front yesterday and followed my friend who’s much more experienced. I find it harder than expected but challenges are fun.

  2. I like mountain biking, but also think it is so hard and don’t do any technical stuff (lots of bike carrying for me!). The best tip I got from a friend was “whatever you look at you will hit” – which is so true. So I try to look ahead instead of look right at scary obstacles like rocks/roots/etc, then just keep the upper body loose and roll with it. Still, I hate injuries, so I’m a roadie at heart!

    • Lots of bike carrying for me too! I hear you about “looking & hitting”. I started out really conscious, swerving around rocks out of habit. Not a roadie-convert yet either, but mtb is a fun change of scenery.

  3. Good for you getting out there amongst the snow. I absolutely love my mountain bike and as you discovered it is great for improving your balance and bike handling skills.

      • Yeah you will find that both styles compliment each other. I found the mtb gave me great confidence in handling the roadie, especially on pot holey roads with more comfort and the roadie gives me the long endurance to handle the climbs on the mtb. Then again the sharp climbs on the mtb help build your legs for the roadie too! If you are looking for a good book on mtb skills, I’m reading one at the moment called, Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes. If you go to my Triathlon Library post (via my gear page) you’ll find a link to it on Amazon. It’s a great book, I’ve learned a lot! 🙂

        • You’re right, well put – they do compliment each other well. Thanks for the book suggestion, will take a look. I’ve been absorbing info like a sponge lately. Are you more of a road cyclists or mtb?

        • I’m actually a triathlete so I’d better say road cyclist, haha, but actually I love mtb for the fun factor. I guess I ride them 50/50 roadie more in Summer and the mtb more in winter. After I do my first Ironman I’m thinking about doing an endurance mtb race. They have some great courses around near where I live.

        • Besides, in Summer there are hulking great spiders that make their webs across the tracks around here (called Golden Orb Spider), so yeah Summer is roadie time! LOL!

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