I’ve always had a fascination with man and self powered machines working as one. I learned to ride a bike on a no-training-wheels two wheeler with no seat and 2 flat tires at the age of 5. My dad bought my first bike used. It was a 3 speed orangish-bronze frame with a golden sparkly banana seat with a tall sissy bar, and the shifter, which resembled a car shifter, was mounted on the top tube. I don’t believe it was a Schwinn Orange Crate, but a knock off because the paint wasn’t bright orange but a sickly looking orange.
Just a week after I got it I tried to hop up the curb and crashed badly. I had so many road rash scabs on my face from the face plant, my friends were making fun of me. But I rode that bike every where. My childhood was spent on bikes. As a pre-teen, I rode my 10-speed Huffy with downward circular handlebars, pretending to be in a race, in which I always came from behind and won. I rode that same Huffy as a teenager on the highway for miles when no one in my small town ever thought about road biking. I didn’t even know that was what I was doing. I just wanted to ride.
In 1987, I wanted nothing more than to leave the desert of New Mexico for the beaches of Hawaii. Why? The lure of learning to surf, year round warm weather and visions of bikinis, of course. But the honest truth is that it was the furthest place from New Mexico that I could think of. So I decided to get there. I sold my ‘81 Camaro and to save money, bought a real road bike to ride the 15 miles to and from work each day. Back then, no one wore a helmet, ever.
A buddy I worked with liked the idea of riding a bike to work. He asked where I had bought mine, went to the bike shop and came back with….a mountain bike! I had never heard of a mountain bike. I asked him why he chose it, when a road bike would be so much faster. “Yeah”, he said, “but can it do this?” He proceeded to ride it up a steep rocky climb. I was impressed. I tried it out. I liked it. A lot! I wanted one. I had already spent my money on my sleek road bike.
It would be another 3 years before I bought my first mountain bike in January of 1990 from a bike shop in Chicago. It was a GT Timberline, triangular frame solid state beauty. No one had even thought of suspension yet. I began to build my skills. It is humorous to remember how intimidating tame trails felt at the time. I rode for a few years, and then due to circumstances, had to send my bike back home to live with my parents. A year later, and looking forward to hitting the trails, I returned home to find my bike missing! My parents, with no idea there was a difference between a decent bike and one purchased from Kmart (before Walmart existed in NM), had sold it at a garage sale for $50 and were proud of what they got for it. I never even saw that cash!
Another several years went by before moving to Boulder, CO, which prompted another bike purchase. Full time grad school, full time work and full time husband and dad didn’t allow much time, but I felt fulfilled to mash up the mountain and swoop back down again. With young kids dominating my non-work time, I yearned to ride more, but had to be patient. As they got older and more self sufficient, more time was available to hit the trails. But it was occasional.
I eventually ended up back in NM. Time passed and that solid state Performance bike from Boulder hung in the garage. Every once in a while, it got some exercise. Then it happened. An event that turned me into a full on addicted mountain biker. I won a mountain bike at a Christmas party! A Schwinn Mesa GSD. Not the highest end bike but not bad for free! It even had front suspension and disc brakes! All my previous mountain bikes were the spark.. this ignited flames in my heated passion for shredding trail.
Almost 30 years after seeing my first mountain bike, I am right back where I started. It’s funny how life works like that, recycling itself. Wanting to leave this place is what introduced me to my first mountain bike. Now, with some of the best trails anywhere, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. The circle of life is not just for Disney.
After all these years and as I approach the half century mark, I am still an intermediate rider at best. I still get a bit nervous on new trails and even get nervous on tough trails I have ridden a dozen times. Sometimes I crash. Sometimes I don’t. Yet, I feel I ride as well as I ever have. I have the law of accumulation on my side. You accumulate enough hours of anything, and you get kinda good at it. I will ride with anyone. I love to introduce new people to my passion. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner or seasoned pro, I want to ride with you.
I consider myself a soul rider. Some days I feel like riding fast and some days I feel like riding slow. I really don’t care what Strava says. Either way, when the trail beckons, I have to answer the call. Deep down inside, in the origins of my spirit, to feel complete, I have to.
Let’s go ride!
The trail calls his name
Feeling freedom in each stroke
Smile big as his heart