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Geeks vs. Wild

Learning To LOViT

Mountain biking the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail is helped by TrailDogs and a timely summer sausage log.

The article titled above by Martina Kolm was originally published in the Fall, 2014, edition of "Arkansas Wild" magazine. It is reproduced here with Martinaís permission.


Insanity On Wheels
When I became a real Mountain Biker?

Iím not a girly girl but wasnít born a bad ass mountain biker either. Like you, I had to learn the craft. Itís hard to believe how much Iíve accomplished, in eight years and how my love for the sport grows with each excursion.

Mountain biking is a male dominated endeavor, evidenced by the gender counts Iíve done while on the trail. Iíd say females comprise no more than 20% of the overall mountain biking community. Just look at the names in the front of biking mags for further confirmation. Why? I donít know.

Perhaps remembering our early biking days, regardless of gender, can help encourage others to join us on this path. My reason for biking was simple, I wanted to spend as much time with my boyfriend, Clinton, as he would allow. I started riding, when a girlfriend gave me a cheap bike. In full disclosure, it was a dreadful crappy contraption on two wheels.

Clinton and I spent about a year pavement riding around the neighborhood, throwing in some flat off-road fields in housing developments. This helped me build stamina. Being a cheap-wad who wouldnít fork out money for a real bike, the day came when I took my two wheeled crap mobile on a mountain biking trail. Imagine no shocks, no knobby tires, squeaky breaks, and a huge puffy saddle coming down the single-track (I think the thing even had a kickstand and bell). I have rarely in my life been as terrified. It was not courage that kept the pedals rotating, but pure stubbornness. I felt each root, every indent, vibrate profusely throughout my body. It was insanity on wheels. I was quite the conversation piece for other riders (if you passed me on the trail that day, I bid you a belated, ďIím sorryĒ). I was also a complete embarrassment to Clinton, who bore it with love, letting me learn the hard way. I survived the ride, with no injuries, save my pride, not knowing if I could ever do it again.

I knew I needed a bike but didnít want to make a purchase, only to chicken out later, like the time I bought a motorcycle in high-school. So when a local bike shop had a 15% off sale with a liberal return policy, Clinton convinced me to man-up and buy an actual mountain bike. He then took me on a less technical trail with my new bike and the rest is history. Under Clintonís tutelage I got better with each ride, falling more in love with him and mountain biking.

We have had some crazy mountain biking adventures together:
1) there was the time Clinton got bit by a rattle snake,
2) our friend John broke his hand,
3) once we played biking body Ping-Pong with huge biting horse flies,
4) we got caught in a freak sand storm,
5) and had the pleasure of sipping Scotch during a fourth of July firework display, on a secluded peninsula trail, turned primitive camping spot.

Mountain biking has invigorated our lives and is a skill passed from teacher to student. There are few sports that necessitate pedal to the metal, face-to-face apprenticeships. Sure you can watch videos, read books and go it alone, but every biker, looking back, knows the best way to learn is with a friend by your side, helping you pick the right line. We are at the one year mark of passing it forward to our friend Mickey, who always longed to mountain bike.

You might groan when seeing a gazillion bikers at your favorite trailhead on a Saturday morning, but more bikerís means better trails, bikes and gear. Itís that nod of acknowledgement we make as our eyes meet in passing on the trail that says, ďYea, there is no better place to be right now, than here.Ē

Iím not sure if I became a mountain biker when I first put the butt to the saddle on that real bike, while instructing Mickey or somewhere in between. I know I cherish every outing, in hot weather or cold and when Iím feeling down, the ride lifts me up. There is a freedom out on the trial like no place else. Perhaps thatís how I know Iím a real mountain biker because I keep peddling to feel that indescribable feeling again, hoping one day to figure it all out. Itís always a tire rotation away, yet never out of sight.


Bears ( Part 1 )

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