Words by Michelle Lam­bert

Mountain Bike for Her - - Contents - Words by Michelle Lam­bert

There are many rea­sons I am so at­tracted to moun­tain bik­ing, but at the top of the list is the fact that rid­ing your bike pro­vides you both free­dom and adventure. On a bike, you can freely ex­plore new ter­rain and seek out ex­cit­ing ad­ven­tures. Moun­tain bik­ers can go far­ther and faster in a shorter pe­riod of time, and this frees us up to see and ex­pe­ri­ence things that many other non-cy­cling trail users will never see. When I am on my bike I am self-re­liant, un­in­hib­ited and re­newed with be­ing at one with na­ture.

In life, we are pas­sion­ate about a few very spe­cial things, and for us rid­ers, the pas­sion of spend­ing a day on sin­gle­track is what lit­er­ally feeds our souls. I try to ride and train daily but this does not al­ways work out due to real world re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We have to learn to work around our busy sched­ules and find time to es­cape - if for noth­ing else but your san­ity.

Moun­tain bik­ing fu­els this with its adren­a­line boost. It gets your heart rac­ing and chal­lenges you to push your­self to new and fun lev­els of pain and suf­fer­ing. A tough climb, a rocky down­hill sin­gle­track that scares the crap out of you - be­ing con­stantly chal­lenged on ev­ery ride is very re­ward­ing. But af­ter a while the lo­cal trails begin to feel a lit­tle bor­ing, maybe a lit­tle repet­i­tive and much like the day-to-day life, your en­vi­ron­ment can be­come stale. This leaves me crav­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. They call it wan­der­lust - the de­sire to want to keep mov­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence new things and places.

Some­time it hap­pens by choice, some­times not, but mov­ing gives you a fresh start; a new way of think­ing and look­ing at life. Mov­ing brings ex­cite­ment back into your life and your rid­ing. Not only have you changed your phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion, but your men­tal one as well. If you’re not ex­cited by life then it be­gins to af­fect your rid­ing and train­ing. That is why a change of scenery is inspiring and of­ten needed in or­der to avoid de­vel­op­ing feel­ings of com­pla­cency.

Mov­ing can re­new your sense of dis­cov­ery, adventure and free­dom. I spent much my early years mov­ing from state to state un­til I was nine; when my fam­ily

“Start a new chap­ter Find what I’m af­ter It’s chang­ing ev­ery day The change of a sea­son Is enough of a rea­son To want to get away Quiet and pen­sive My thoughts ap­pre­hen­sive The hours drift away Leav­ing my home­land Play­ing a lone hand My life be­gins to­day” -Neil Peart

fi­nally set­tled in Cal­i­for­nia. I spent the rest of my child­hood in the same house and neigh­bour­hood. Later, I started moun­tain bik­ing in the hills be­hind my child­hood house, and then in my twen­ties I moved to my own apart­ment. I went to col­lege and lived in a few dif­fer­ent places in the area, but never very far from my child­hood home. I con­tin­ued rid­ing on the same trails for few more years un­til my hus­band and I had the op­por­tu­nity to move to Colorado. I was un­sure of the move be­cause it would be big change from where I was cur­rently living, but we went ahead. We de­cided it was worth the risk of mov­ing to a place that we had never been to, and I had no idea if I would even like living there.

At the time I was not very con­fi­dent about this move and why not…it was “over the hills and far away”! Fur­ther thought grounded me in the re­al­ity that Colorado is the mecca of moun­tain bik­ing and I am a moun­tain biker - why shouldn’t I like it? There were pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives about my Colorado move but in the end I learned a lot, made a few mis­takes, felt the pain of adap­ta­tion, rode cool, new trails and saw places and things I never would have seen had I not taken the plunge.

Next was an op­por­tu­nity to move to Ari­zona, which brought its unique take on living. What an amaz­ing place! Two years later, I found my­self once again back in Cal­i­for­nia, about an hour from my child­hood neigh­bour­hood. This time it only took a cou­ple of years be­fore I found my­self long­ing for new scenery. I was tired of my area, I was bored with the same old trails, and I was feel­ing rest­less for new ad­ven­tures. I found that I was crav­ing the thrill of a new place to live and ride; some place new where I can get an un­set­tling feel­ing in my stom­ach of get­ting lost on an un­known trail, have my heart race as I stare down an un­fa­mil­iar down­hill, where I don’t know ev­ery line and may crash on the way down be­cause of a huge rut I didn’t know was there. I re­al­ized now the ner­vous­ness and un­cer­tainty I had felt when my mak­ing my de­ci­sion about mov­ing to Colorado was ac­tu­ally good for my soul and good for my rid­ing.

Next time you are on a ride look long and hard at the trail that lies ahead and ask your­self does this trail make your pulse race, palms sweat, and put a stir in your soul? Even though this is your 523rd time down it? Be hon­est… it’s prob­a­bly not giv­ing you the same vibe it did so many sea­sons ago. So maybe you need to think about chang­ing out the scenery, mov­ing to the next level. Of course, mov­ing just be­cause you crave a new rid­ing spot is nei­ther prac­ti­cal nor fea­si­ble but in a sense the trail rep­re­sents your life path: your job, your fam­ily, your sense of well-be­ing.

The trail is only a part of your new life, where ev­ery­thing is shiny and fresh. Per­haps for many of us, be­com­ing too com­fort­able, con­tent or unin­spired in our en­vi­ron­ment can be sti­fling. Peo­ple crave new ex­pe­ri­ences, good or bad; we all want to fill our lives with ex­cit­ing or chal­leng­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, which I think is why we are moun­tain bik­ers in the first place. We are adventure seek­ers who love to fly down dirt trails with noth­ing but a thin piece of rub­ber be­tween us and the ground. We fight grav­ity to climb through pain and heat that would make most peo­ple cry, but we only think of the sum­mit. We love to get dirty and love to push our­selves to the point of ex­haus­tion. We crash, get hurt, heal and come back for more. We moun­tain bike be­cause we don’t want to sub­scribe to the dull scripted life ev­ery­one else seems to live.

A few months ago, my hus­band and I were once again look­ing hard at the trail

that lies ahead, and made the de­ci­sion that it was time to move on to our new des­ti­na­tion-sunny South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The tran­si­tion to our new lo­ca­tion has been la­bo­ri­ous (as mov­ing and adapt­ing al­ways is) and sub­se­quently there have many ob­sta­cles that we have had to deal with. Heavy com­pe­ti­tion for hous­ing, deal­ing with movers not show­ing up, long drives back and forth from the San Fran­cisco Bay area to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia al­most ev­ery week­end, and ad­just­ing to a new job. The move also put a crimp in my train­ing but the beauty of mov­ing is its new be­gin­nings.

Th­ese are grow­ing pains, lead­ing to strength. As we are run­ning around get­ting set­tled in, a glance up to the moun­tains around our new neigh­bour­hood re­veals rib­bons of sin­gle­track weav­ing through the yet un­ex­plored hills. We can­not wait till we un­pack the bikes and head off in their di­rec­tion. If we are lucky, we will get lost enough on them to make it fun when we find our way again. Think­ing about my new place and the end­less and ex­cit­ing moun­tain bik­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties makes me feel re­newed and en­er­gized. Sure, I left friends in my old city but I will make new friends, have new con­ver­sa­tions with new neigh­bours, com­pete in new moun­tain bike races and find new bike shops to visit. New Strava seg­ments await! My fam­ily still lives in the SF bay area so I will be go­ing back for hol­i­days, and I will bring my bike and hit a trail or two for old time sakes, but it will be a tem­po­rary flash­back. In or­der to keep grow­ing, you must keep mov­ing.

Never be sat­is­fied with the same old same old, it’s all about the jour­ney. I will al­ways con­tinue to seek new places and new ad­ven­tures be­cause I have the wan­der­lust.

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