I went on my first night ride on my mountain bike last week. I was excited and nervous. Nervous of course because it was at night, and I am still a beginner--excited for the new adventure. When I got there I got a light put on my bike and then was ready to go with the rest of the group. My nerves kind of got the best of me at the first of the ride. I had a hard time riding the trail and was very unsure of myself. I teetered and tottered through the switchbacks and my bike went off the trail more than once. As the ride proceeded my confidence gained and I started to feel the joy of being out on the trail in the dark. The trail in the dark is much different than in the day. The colors are different, the climb feels different and you view the trail completely different. Things that would normally slow me down in daylight did not seem to affect me the same in the dark. I found my confidence was greater. I went down the trail without any fear of rocks, dips, turns and berms. Normally on a new trail I am tentative, but this time I went down the trail and felt comfortable and confident. The light on my bike was just right to show the trail ahead, but not too far. I focused on the trail ahead, not everything around the trail. I am sure this contributed to me doing better on the trail. When the ride was over, I was tired and exhilarated, and I can't wait for the next time I can go out in the night and ride.
Saturday my husband and I decided to upgrade from paved paths to single tracks. I have been doing research on different trails in the area, and picked a popular trail for beginners to intermediate. We arrived at the single track ready to go. A little anxious because we had never attempted this and the trail was foreign to us. Aside from going off the paved trail a little bit, this was our real first time on a trail. My husband started out first, mostly because I needed to work up the nerve to go down the hill. There is something about going down hills that frightens me. I am hoping with more time and experience this feeling will go away. Once I went down the hill it was great. I was nervous most of the way, but was able to turn the corners and went along fairly well. Believe it or not my goal was not to get clipped in, I didn't want my foot to get stuck and not be able to unclip. And of course true to my fear that is exactly what happened. About a quarter of a mile down the trail I clipped in tried to clip out and fell. The fall was pretty hard. I took a handlebar to the chest, and my seat flipped off. Needless to say that was the end of our trail riding. We rode back, well not exactly, I rode until my seat would fall off and then stop put it on again and ride a little bit further. Although I had been hurt, it was pretty funny. I let my own fear cause a fall. We rode down the mountain dropped my bike off at the bike store to get fixed, and I was became determined to go back. On fall and a losing a seat was not going to stop me learning to ride trails.
Today (Monday), my husband and I took off to pick up my bike and return to the trail we never finished. I had taken off my clips. I decided I needed to learn to bike before I worry about clipping in and out. The first part of the trail I was very nervous. I couldn't even begin on the hill I walked my bike down 2 feet down the hill before taking off. I made a few corners and then got off to walk my bike, went a little bit further, got off again, and walked my bike. That was the last time I walked my bike due to fear. I started to get the hang of riding around on the trail. I still was fearful, but I became more confident in going over rocks, and roots and corning trying to avoid collisions with trees. The hills I began to go up and down were much more steep than the initial hill, and I was more concerned about what lay on the trail ahead than looking straight down below. My husband though not a biker has had more experience with riding motorbikes and ski jets. He took the time to show me some things that would work for me such as standing and pedaling to get over a hill, and leaning in to a corner. Of course I knew all this stuff, because I read a book about it, but having him show me was helpful, because I could see how to do it. The hardest part was doing it without clips. I couldn't believe what a difference the clips make. My pedaling is more efficient and climbing a hill is nothing, I can stand and pedal and I do not shift to such low gears when I am clipped in. In some instances I regretted taking off my clips, but I know personally I needed to first conquer the trail and not worry about conquering my shoes. I can't wait to go back and I am trying to figure out when my schedule will allow me to go, as well as the weather. I don't plan to clip in yet, I want to go one more time and then it will be time to clip in. And as far as the hill at the first of the trail. When we returned I laughed at the fact it was not much of a hill. It is amazing how one ride can change your point of view. I can't wait to do more!!!
Two months ago I entered into a bike store with the idea of purchasing a bike to help with my foot recovery and to get back into shape. Nine weeks prior to the bike purchase I had major foot surgery, and although my foot healed nicely I was unable to run or walk very far. I did not want to take time out to go to the gym with the nice weather, so I decide buying a bike would give me something to do outside that would not aggrevate my foot. Going to the closest bike store I made my first bike purchasea mountain bike made specifically for women. What a great bike. It is perfects for the beginner and perfect for my needs. I did not want to buy something too expensive, and I wanted a bike I could ride around town and ride on the trails in the mountains around me. Before I bought the bike I had the opportunity to test it out in the parking lot. I am sure the salesman thought there was no way I would ride much. I had a difficult time balancing and ridinglets just say I was very wobbily on the bike. I was lucky I was able to stay on the bike (I think the last time I was on a bike was when I was in middle school) Because of my lack of ability I am sure this is why I only purchased the very basics--a helmet, glasses, and water bottle holder. With that I hopped on my new bike and rode it 4 miles to home. That ride was scarey for me. I rode very slow, worried I would fall off or get hit by a car, because of my inability to ride well, but I made it home in one piece.
The next day I took my bike out with my 8 year old and we went for a 2 hour bike ride, and the love for the bike began. I began to go out riding a couple of times a week, wishing I could do more, but having to wait due to softball season and playing 5 hours a week. Every time I could find the opportunity I would take a moment to hop on my bike. The more I rode the more I realized I needed more so I could ride in comfort. I found a great bike store, with female cyclists, and began to get outfitted correctly. My husband also caught the fever and our family has begun to go on rides in the mountains and around town. We bought a bike rack for the car so we would not be limited to only the trails close by. Now not only me, but my family has started to become bike enthusits. Last week my 8 year old and I rode on the 10 mile Breast Cancer Awareness Ride. She had so much fun she was wishing I would have let her do the 20 mile ride.
I don't know how to explain the love for the bike other than there is nothing else like it. Each time I ride I come home feeling uplifted and can't wait to get back out. I love the freedom of being outside, riding on the trails, or on the road and feeling the rush of the wind go by. I love getting better and better and learning how to ride my bike better. I laugh as I am learning to clip and unclip into the peddles and of course hope that there will not be any major falls due to the lack of coordination of trying to get my foot out of the peddles. When I get home my senses are heightened and I wish I could bike just a little bit longer. I watch the weather to determine if there is going to be a rain storm or not. No rain storm means we are out biking. Surprisingly the cold weather has not deterred me. I am not a lover of the cold, but when dressed properly it does not feel so cold on the bike. Of course it is still early in the cold season, so this sentiment may change. I am constantly looking for new places to ride and reading on how to become a better rider.
The other day I got the courage up to ask about the gear shifter on the left hand and what they were foryes now I know it is the derailluer. When I bought the bike unfortunately this was not something the salesman thought I needed to know. My new friends at the new bike store explained the ins and outs and now I am loving playing with shifting and learning how to maximize the use of my bike. It is still a bit confusing to me, but as I climb hills and go down I am learning how each gear works and what works best for methis is sooo cool.
Last week I upgraded and bought a road bike! Wow, what a difference versus the mountain bike. I can't believe how fast I can go on the road and how much easier it is to travel longer distances. Of course I am still in the wobbily stage, but hopefully I will get my balance soon, like I did with my mountain bike, and will be able to learn to ride much better. I love biking and now I can experience both mountain and road the best possible way.