My coworkers are going to be shocked when they read this. I’m sure they have no idea that I’m a mountain biker. When I’m not busy crafting clever captions for clients or engaging in stimulating conversation on Twitter, I love to head outdoors and soak up as much nature as I can get. I love all things that involve the outdoors, but my newest passion is mountain biking.

As addictive as cocaine and twice as expensive, or so I’m told (about the first part!) riding is thrilling, and at times, scary. As of this August I will officially have been mountain biking for one year and here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

  1. “When in doubt, pedal it out.” Whenever I feel anxious or stressed, going for a ride is one of the best ways to work through whatever is bothering me and get my head right. Whether climbing a hill or grinding out a long pedal, there comes a point when your groaning muscles and weariness subsides, and you find yourself breathing and turning the cranks in perfect harmony while listening to the soft, rhythmic whir of the wheels. The headaches of the day fade away and nothing enters your thoughts except the colors and sounds of nature for the rest of the journey. On any given day you’re only one bike ride away from a good mood. Bonus: I sleep great after a hard ride!
  2. Mountain bikers are some of the friendliest, realest people you will ever meet. The crew I ride with is filled with some nationally ranked shredders and lots of guys, and from my first slow-paced, apprehensive ride they have been nothing but encouraging, supportive and FUN. Along the way I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some amazing women that have blazed an impressive trail ahead of me. These type of people are not limited to your local riding scene either. Each time I ride in unexplored territory I meet new, like-minded people and now have a network of friends that ranges all over the southwest. I say the southwest only because I haven’t ridden outside the area yet. But I will! Each October my husband and I head to Virgin, UT for the pinnacle of adrenaline pumping events, the Red Bull Rampage freeride competition. We’ve been camping with the same people we randomly met the first time we attended and now look forward to those days we spend together all year long. These people are my tribe. We mesh.
  3. The meaning of “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” can be found in the sport of mountain biking. I have fallen more times than I can count, have bruised muscles I didn’t know existed, and donated blood to many trails. Mountain biking challenges you physically but I would argue that it challenges you more mentally. I’ve put in the research and trust me when I say I’ve learned the hard way that slowing down or grabbing a handful of brakes is the quickest route to crashing. Letting go of your fears of crashing, of falling off a narrow trail, or of attempting a front wheel lift over a boulder while pedaling uphill, determines whether you shred the trail or you fail. You should always challenge yourself to ride at your best and there’s always another hill, another obstacle or a new technical section of gnar to tackle. I’ve learned to take calculated risks, that I can do more than I think I can if I don’t overanalyze and panic, and you know what? Despite the bruises, I’m having the time of my life along the ride.

The list of lessons mountain biking can teach you is endless, but that’s another blog, maybe even a book. So I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes and the knowledge that if you ever need a riding partner or someone to watch Rampage videos with, I’m your huckleberry.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey

Submitted by – Aimee Wenske, Social Media Coordinator