How to Become a Sorta OK Mountain Biker

This post is part of the 30 in my 30’s List.

Are you in decent physical shape and looking for an activity that reminds you what it feels like to be in very poor physical shape? Do you enjoy feeling like your lungs are bleeding? Would your legs look good with some big, bright bruises? Does the thought of flying like Superman over some handlebars into gravel sound like a good way to test your pain threshold? Then, mountain biking just might be the sport for you! Here’s what you need to do to get started.

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1. Buy a good bike. One of the first times I ever headed out on a mountain bike trail, I was on a hard tail (that’s mountain bike speak for “no rear suspension”) bike with lousy breaks. I quit approximately 10 minutes into the trail, retreating in tears and a promise to myself to never do this again. Unfortunately, by that point the sport had become a favorite amongst my friends and I had no choice but to get back in the saddle if I wanted to spend any time with them in the summer (in retrospect, I should have just considered finding new friends). So I bought a better bike with full suspension and disc breaks so now, instead of retreating in tears, I cry quietly into my sunglasses while enduring the torture that is mountain biking.

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2. Also, buy and wear the ugly, uncomfortably tight padded shorts. Just trust me on this one.

3. Decide whether you will be an up-hiller or a down-hiller. There are some who are both. I am not. Therefore, I hate those people who are both. And, if you’re following these guidelines and truly want to succeed at being sort of OK at mountain biking, then you will have to choose one. For me, my time to shine is on the uphill. Endurance is my game. Adrenaline is not. Many trails require both; I find this upsetting and can only assume you will too.

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4. Get your camera ready. Forget the handlebar mount for your Go Pro, you won’t need it; as a mediocre mountain biker, you’re going to want to take lots of shots of yourself posing next to your bike with beautiful landscapes in the background. Get your friends to join you and don’t forget to take a group selfie or two. Post your photos on social media to show everyone that you not only take pictures of yourself next to single-track trails, but that you also own a nice bike.

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And that’s all there is to it! Good luck out there and don’t forget to make sure your health insurance is up to date and your favorite surgeon’s on speed dial before you hit the trails.

{The friends pictured in these photos are all rockstar mountain bikers. My views and ability level are by no means a reflection of theirs. They humor me with photos.}

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