It’s Not Too Late – Fall In Love With Mountain Biking


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So you think you’re too old, too out of shape, too fearful to try mountain biking? Think again. Mountain biking is perfect for all levels of experience, fitness and bravery. Plus, it is so fun!

Until two months ago, I was sure that I would never get on a mountain bike. Since I already rode a road bike, did the occasional gravel grinder, skied, hiked, camped and a bunch of other outdoorsy things, I didn’t think I needed yet another expensive hobby in my life.

That is, until I tried mountain biking and fell in love.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Logan Swayze.

When I was invited two months ago the to the Trek Dirt Series weekend camp in Santa Cruz, California, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to experience mountain biking for the first time in a safe, supportive setting. The Trek Dirt Series camps feature two days of intensive instruction and riding specifically for women (although a few years ago organizers added a few coed camps by request.)

As a journalist, it’s my job to research all types of outdoor activities, even ones I don’t feel drawn to. Who wants to ride a bike down narrow singletrack over roots and rocks anyway?

Turns out I do. Here’s why you should give it a try:

1. Mountain biking gets you out into nature.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Justa Jescova.

Hiking is great, but you can double the distance you cover on a bike. You can mountain bike through desert, forest, along a rocky coast. With the right bike, the outdoors are wide open to you.

2. It’s a great, low-impact workout.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Ronny Kalchhauser.

Looking for an aerobic workout that’s easy on your joints? Try mountain biking up and down dirt hills. “You don’t even notice how hard you’re working because you’re having so much fun,” said Sylvie Fae, an instructor at the Trek Dirt Series for the past five years. “And then you finish, and you realize that you burned 2,000 calories and you just had the most amazing experience ever.” The best part about biking up a hill is coming down.

3. It keeps you in the flow, mentally and physically.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Logan Swayze.

Like rock climbing or skiing, when you’re mountain biking you need to stay mentally alert, focused and “in the flow.” There’s no zoning out like you might do on the road bike. Croatian professor and happiness researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, best known as the father of the concept of “flow,” believes that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow or complete absorption in the activity at hand. Negotiating rocks, roots or a tight turn means that you are mentally incapable of getting caught up in your to-do list or stress at work. You are blissfully present.

4. There’s a terrain and style that’s perfect for you.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Ronny Kalchhauser.

From aggressive descents to gently rolling hills, there’s a ride for every ability level. Beginners will want to start with all-mountain or cross-country riding, which means that you are cycling up and down smoother, more “flowy” trails. Just go with a friend who mountain bikes regularly and who will be patient with you. Even better, take a lesson to practice some basic skills.

5. It’s a fun social activity that’s ideal for groups.

Try Mountain Biking

Photo by Justa Jeskova.

Mountain biking is the perfect group activity for friends, couples, families and more. Plus, you’re sure to find riding groups all over the country that cater to all levels, so you can make new friends.

Candace Shadley, who founded the Trek Women’s Dirt Series 13 years ago, nicely sums up mountain biking: “It’s so many things rolled into one: It’s social time with your friends, it’s being in the outdoors, it’s conquering your fears, developing mental tenacity, it’s fitness, developing your strength, it’s coordination, it’s accomplishment, it’s a challenge.”

Mountain biking might just be what’s missing from your life. Plus, autumn is an absolutely gorgeous time to hit the trails!

Feature photo by Ronny Kalchhauser.

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