I was thinking about the first time I went “mountain biking.” I was probably 13 or so. I took my dad’s bike, a 22 inch Peugeot (he still has it), up into the foothils above our house. The bike dwarfed me. I rode around on some of the dirt roads for a few minutes, then it came time to try and go down one of them. I remember it well. I lost control of the bike and went flying into the rocks and bushes. I was unhurt, but convinced that this was not for me.
A few years later I took a spring break trip to Moab with a bunch of my friends. We were 16-17 years old. I had been to Moab before, but never ridden down there. I hadn’t done any riding at all in fact, because remember, I was done witht the sport. Well we rode the Slick Rock Trail, and I was hooked. I rode a borrowed bike. There were about 15 of us. It took us like 7 hours to do the 13 mile loop. We were unprepared, and out of shape. For many of the guys on that ride, that was thier “I am done with the sport” day. For me, it was the first time I saw what mountain biking could really be. That is also the trip where we met Larry, some guy from Colorado that was easily the most “drunked up” guy I have ever seen. He wanted to play hackey sack (hey it was the mid 90s!) with us, but it was to pathetic to watch him wave his foot around trying to hit the little ball…anyway Larry is another story I guess.
I was 23 before I particiapted in my first mountain bike race. Those can also be events that weed people away from the sport. Once I got the taste of competition in my mouth it was all over. Next season will be my 6th full racing season. I guess it is fitting that my love for the sport started in the Mecca of Moab. I guess it is also fitting that my favorite event takes place there each October, in a way it is a pilgrimage back to the beginnings of my discovery of cycling.
So, where was your first time? What was it that hooked you to the sport of mountain biking? Why do we love the pain that comes from racing?