Pull into the parking lot and cut the engine.
Unload your mountain bike from the rack, box, roof or whatever you fastened it to. Don your riding kit, or maybe you drove in it – keener.
Hop onto your bike with your friends, your kids, your dog, all of them, or just solo. Feel the handle bars respond to your slightest touch as you head into the forested canopy. The combined scents of fresh rain, wet dirt, and sweet decay wash up and into your nostrils as your breath quickens. The climb is daunting, roots and rocks are strewn closely about. Your rear wheel slips but you manage to keep the bike on course.
Your hamstrings and quads are starting to warm up, maybe they’re already burning. Surmounting the crest of the climb you ease up and recover yourself—breathe, breathe, I’m breathing.
Accompanying you on your ride are ravens, crows, eagles, sea gulls and the odd owl. They watch you as you trace your way through the winding trails, their calls echoing around you. Now you’re descending, the trees start to blur together, things are fast and loose, your focused on nothing but the moment now, hang on.
I want to emphasize that mountain biking is for everyone. It’s a sport you can pick up at any point in your life; furthermore, it’s the ultimate challenge by choice activity. Meaning you determine the kind of riding experience you want by selecting the trails best suited to your abilities. Hartland mountain bike park is a good place to start, but the Southern Island is full of riding areas to explore.
See the South Island Mountain Bike Society’s website for local riding resources, simbs.com.
Find a bike, explore, challenge yourself, and rediscover your love for two wheels.
Patrick Nolan is a mountain bike instructor, guide and owner of Nolan Riding.