Learning to Mountain Bike: Trails Near You

Learning to Mountain Bike: Trails Near You

I’ve always loved riding bikes. Growing up in the country, surrounded by gravel roads and a lack of motor vehicles zooming past, riding my  bike was the best way to get to and from my friends’ houses. 

Flash forward to today, and bikes are still my go-to way to get to and from friends’ houses. And also my favorite way to get to work (pre-COVID times) and all the delicious breweries in town. As with a lot of folks, bikes also became a way to get some exercise that led to those feel good mental vibes that are incredibly important to get through the wild ride of the world we live in. 

Another great perk of knowing how to bike? All the different types of bikes you can try. 

Gravel grinder? Got you covered. Road rider? No problem. Cruising the trails? More beer in the basket, please. Mountains? Oh yeah, you can ride those too. 

Mountain biking was something I always wanted to try but was a little hesitant about. Everyone looked so intense and skilled. Plus, there were all those rocks; wouldn’t I break something? 

All of these rumors conjured by my own brain were stopping me from trying something I knew I’d enjoy. 

And then I tried it. 

And loved it. 

Let’s preface this, I wasn’t great my first ride. I went to Lory State Park and rode the West Valley Trail. My first 2.5 miles, up to the parking lot of Arthur’s Rock, I had to put a foot down about 10 times. I was nervous yet excited. Scared yet completely enthralled. After taking a few sips of water, and some ensuring words from my partner, we rode the South Valley Loop… which I instantly regretted. Not because it wasn’t fun. It was a blast. I just wasn’t ready for incline plus rocks yet. And that was OK. Pushing your limits is great, but sometimes, you hit your limits and decide to try again another day. Or maybe a few days from then, because I was a little sore. 

Photo by Jarad Heintzelman

The second time we went to Lory State Park, I decided yet again try the West Valley Trail down to South Valley Trail and then loop back around to our car on the East Valley Trail. I still had moments where I had to put my foot down but I felt more in control of my bike and maybe even yelled out a “woohoo” as we blazed the downhill. 

And now, a few weeks from that first attempt I can do that whole loop with a giant smile plastered on my face. Even if that back loop causes me to put my foot down a few times, I’m keeping at it until I ace it. 

Even if that takes well into 2021. 

Looking to try mountain biking on some beginner friendly trails? A few suggestions (coming from a beginner) are the Valley Trails at Lory State Park, any of the trails at Pineridge Natural Area and the Mahogany Trail at Soapstone Natural Area. 

Photo by Jarad Heintzelman

And if you fall, don’t worry, I’ve probably fallen in that exact same spot. 

Make sure to tag @aregentostudios if you’re new to mountain biking and head out for a ride!

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