Sunday, August 26, 2012

Suburban off-road trail riding

Sporting a CamelBak and a smile.
Last week was the first week of school, but reading and math weren't the only things worthy of study. She has had been awash with confidence riding her mountain bike, so we took an afternoon to get out on the trails.

One of my biggest barriers to mountain biking in the past several years has been the time involvement, both real and perceived. Probably my biggest hangup is the time investment to load a car with bikes and gear then to drive to a trailhead. However, since serving as sensei to a budding mountain biking grasshopper, I've become attuned to seeking out off-road opportunities in urbana situ, reducing time requirements for preparation.
Cruising some open singletrack.
We fortuitously live in an area with a quite a few off-road trails of various types. Most are not particularly technical or demanding, but can be a lot of fun regardless. With a little imagination, it's possible to link together several informally developed segments of double and singletrack via more officially sanctioned sections of trail surfaced with crusher fines.

Although there are not tremendous opportunities for long downhill runs, we have been working on some skills that will eventually be useful for descending. Big Sis soaks up new challenges, and has recently had fun mastering the skill of getting behind her seat to shift weight balance over the rear wheel. This is a position to allow for safe and controlled descent down slopes. She's a good climber and seems to enjoy topping hills, so developing the skills to go back down is naturally in the cards.
Showing the people how it's done.
We had a great time poking around the trails, and will continue to do so. The experiences of seeking out places to develop mountain biking skills is reminiscent of the way I rode a bike as a kid; just exploring the outdoors and having fun. There's no competition other than the occasional friendly sprint, and we stop to look at flowers or to get snacks whenever we feel like it. It's all been a valuable reminder that in biking, as well as life in general, the journey is the destination.


  1. That pic of Stella getting behind her seat is amazing, for someone of her age. I think she has a good teacher.

  2. Like a lot of kids, she's pretty acrobatic on her bike. She climbs all over it and tests the bounds of the possible. One day I saw her almost in the behind the seat position, so I helped her figure it out and told her how it could be useful. She gave herself credit for having "invented" the behind the seat position, and from my point of view, I won't dispute it. She works at her own initiative and I make a conscious effort not to push her, but I am quite proud at how she has developed as a rider.