I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked “Why do you ride bikes?” So why do I ride?
This question has come from so many different sources.
My experiences on the bike are mostly positive, but in this crazy and imperfect world there is always going to be some negativity. I have asked myself this question many times. It has crossed my mind as I am struggling to get out of bed for a 6am training session. My mum has asked me this question as she’s sitting by my hospital bed, following a scary crash and a day full of spinal x-rays. I don’t want to sound too dreary, but I would not be honest with you if I said I hadn’t questioned my choice to commit myself to bikes. The thing is though, I always have an answer, and so I keep on riding my bike.
Riding delivers such a unique thrill. I’m smiling as I’m writing this just thinking about the smile that is plastered on my face after a sweet downhill. I love being able to feel my heart, beating so fast inside my chest as I’m about to ride a scary, technical feature for the first time. I even (sometimes) like climbing, and that warm feeling you get at the top of a hill.
Throughout high school we would spend hours discussing and writing about “gaining a sense of belonging” and the satisfaction it delivers. Honestly, being a bike rider helped me to ‘belong’ to something special. The mountain biking community is so friendly, so open and so, so much fun.
Now I don’t want this blog post to be too soppy. I am, however, forever grateful that bike riding has allowed me to travel the world, achieve my goals, meet life long friends and be a part of a large group of such great people.
And that is why I ride.
If you want more information about coaching clinics, racing or how to get into the sport, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you remember your first race? For some of us it was a very long time ago, but for nine year old Jess, her first ever race was May 22nd. Jess raced the ‘mini muddies’ event at the first round of Victoria’s King Of Ballarat downhill series.
Were you one of the lucky ones to race on international soil for the very first time? Sian Ahern did just that over in Scotland for the third round of the UCI Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup on June 5th.
I caught up with both girls after their events to gather their reactions following their own, personal mountain biking ‘firsts.’
How long have you been riding for?
Sian: I have been riding for just about 2 years now. Which isn’t a very long time but I have been putting in a lot of effort to get to where I wanted to be, and all the hard work definitely pays off in some way!
Jess: I have been riding for 6 years, I started at 3.
What event did you last compete in?
Sian: I last competed at Fort William, Scotland for round 3 of the UCI mountain bike World Cup, and at Fort William I qualified 19th in elite, and 1st in juniors. On race day my run didn’t all go to plan but still managed to come 21st in elite, and take out the win in juniors!
Jess: King Of Ballarat, the mini Muddies race.
What was your race weapon of choice?
Sian: My race weapon of choice for this event was of course my Norco Aurum C7.1!! The bike was set up absolutely perfect, and felt amazing throughout the whole weekend. Shimano did some awesome work in making everything run smoothly, and making sure my bike was in perfect condition the whole weekend.
Jess: Giant Liv
What was going through your mind as you were at the start gate?
Sian: At the start gate I try not to think about anything but my race, I look at the awesome crowds and I look at the track and say to myself “I can do this.” I take a few deep breaths, spin my legs, focus on what I’m about to and and I’m off.
Jess: I was nervous and I didn’t want to fall off during the race.
If you could do the race again, would you change anything? if so what?
Sian: at this particular race, if I could change anything I probably wouldn’t change much at all. Possibly hit a few more jumps as I know I could have done them. But overall the weekend went pretty smoothly. My race run I was trying too hard that I kept stuffing up my lines and not riding as smooth as I know I can, which is something I learnt about this race, sometimes you have to relax and not try TOO hard!
Jess: I should have slept more the night before. I thought the track was pretty good so I wouldn’t change anything.
Overall, if you could describe this event in one word what would it be?
Sian: FUN!!! This race was so awesome, the track was so rough but so much fun, the crowds were absolutely amazing and there were so many people! Having so many people was so motivating and made me have so much fun. It was so awesome to be in different country so far away from home and ride my bike. I never would have thought this opportunity would happen!
Do you have any advice to anyone who wishes to race this event in the future?
Sian: Yeah I do, have as much fun as you can and enjoy everything about the race. Its an awesome experience. one more thing also the track is so long train hard, and bring your strong hands!
Jess: Don’t be nervous to go down the track it was an awesome track and I really loved the rock section and the corners.
Good luck to both girls and their mountain biking adventures. Be sure to follow Sian’s journey as the rest of the World Cup season unfolds!
Why is it that all mountain bike trails have uninviting trail names? It seems that the more frightening and ‘gloomy’ you can make a trail sound the better. I’ve created a list (some I have come across and others I found on the internet) of five trail names that are surely designed to scare your grandma. So without further ado and in no particular order;
Graveyard (one of my local trails in Victoria, Australia)
Coffin rock (Barjarg, Victoria, Australia) check out the Life of Bikes team video from Barjarg here.
Crusher (one of my local trails in Victoria, Australia)
Kill me thrill me (Whistler, Canada) I found a sweet ‘shreddit’ of the trail, check it out here.
Aneurysm (Lysterfield, Victoria, Australia)
I am certainly up for the thrill and adventure of bike riding, and don’t get me wrong I am proud to showcase the scars on my shins from falling off features such as ‘coffin rock.’
My mum was my inspiration for this blog post, who gains a new wrinkle and grey hair every time I tell her I’m going to ride ‘Crusher’ or ‘Aneurysm.’ Do you have any others you would add to this list? let me know in the comments!