For those of you who don't know me, I'm PedalHound's very lucky girlfriend - we'll see if he edits that out - ha. ( ED: I never edit the truth) When I first met PedalHound one of the things that impressed - and maybe threatened - me about him was his absolute passion for mountain biking. I wrote about it a while back as something I aspire to - there is nothing in my life about which I am as passionate as he is about the whole world of mountain biking. I love that about him.
So it was pretty exciting for me last Sunday when I got to go for my first official mountain bike ride with PedalHound as my coach and guide. Before we get into that though, you need a little context. I spend a lot of my life in dresses and heels. I enjoy live music, live theatre, and people watching in downtown coffee shops. I pay way too much for my haircuts and own way too many pairs of shoes. I am, to most appearances, a girly girl.
But there's another part of me - the part the grew up in the foothills of the Rockies. The part the misses skiing through 6 feet of powder and gutting trout. The part that prefers the smell of campfire to perfume and sleeps better when she can see the stars. The part that played university basketball and lettered in three high school sports - a part that has always taken second chair to my intellectual pursuits and that has been outright left behind for a while. I found that part of myself on the trail on Sunday.
I have to give full props to PedalHound. I've been threatening to ride with the Dirty Girlz Bike Club just to get out there and have the experience, and to spare him the agony of waiting for me, but he insisted that he wanted to be the one to pop my mtb cherry. It was a good call - he's an amazing coach. He choose an easy ride for my first time out that was totally fun and boosted my confidence for next time. He reminded me of the basics of cycling without being condescending (an important consideration when a relationship is on the line - ha). And he encouraged me the whole way through. It wasn't a long ride, but by the end of it was physically exhausted. And totally exhilarated.
The trails we rode were a great introduction to the difference between regular bike riding and mountain biking - which basically seems to come down to dirt trails, trees close enough you can smell them, enough bumps to keep you alert, and every now and then some fun fun zoomy bits. We stuck to fairly cross-cuntry trails so that I wouldn't have to pump back uphill at the end of the day, but I still got the feel for the difference between uphill, downhill and cross country. I like downhill best! *grin*
I started out on PedalHound's hardtail Frankenbike, and even it was impressive. Responsive. Light enough for my not-all-that-in-shape body to lift over a wee log after a couple attempts. Maintained well enough to hump up most of the little hills and to handle my inept gear changes and spastic braking. It was a great way to get my balance after three years without a bike of any kind.
And then the magic happened - PedalHound offered me his sexy new red Rune. Suddenly I could trust my body and my reflexes. Suddenly I knew that going faster works better than slowing down. Suddenly uphill was fun and downhill ... well .. downhill proved that you can have both swearwords and a giant smile on your lips at the same time! Suddenly I was 20 years younger, 20 pounds lighter, and more adventurous than I've ever been. Suddenly I had the instinct to correct a wobble by kicking against a particularly high root knob. Oh, and by the way, HOORAY FOR FULL SUSPENSION. I'm just sayin.'
Having restricted my exercise in the last year to yoga classes, urban walks, and an occasional swim in a pool I had forgotten how good it is for body and soul to be exhausted in the freshest of air. I even got my first little wee pedal bite on one leg - I'm so proud of that little scratch - ha
It was amazing for me to see PedalHound in his element and to be initiated into something that matters so much to him. I loved it even more because we got to ride together, and I can't wait to go again. It'll be another ride or two before I join the Dirty Girlz, but I hope to get there before the weather gets too cold and wet. That adventurous girl I've been missing has definitely been awakened, but I'm pretty sure she won't ride in the rain. ;-)
Pedalhound: Thank you to Scwink for this awesome guest post, I can't wait to go on more rides with you, I love seeing this sport excite new people. I hope to see more articles as you get more comfortable riding.
If you liked her writing check out her blog, she is very talented....I am not just saying that to get extra points either...lol...but you know...extra points is NEVER a bad thing, right?