Bike · Mountain Biking

Finally Becoming Comfortable

It’s no secret that I’m really into trying new things.  When someone asks what my hobbies are, I’ll say “hiking and reading…and biking and kayaking and backpacking and cross country skiing and rock climbing and…” until the person starts to look concerned for me.  Yes, I have too many hobbies, but that’s not a bad thing.  Not until you realize that being new at something is tough because when you’re new, you’re not really good at it yet.  You’re in that annoying window of time where you need to be patient and practice a lot until you start getting the hang of it.  And when you have a million hobbies, that takes forever.  I’m not really good at anything but I know how to do lots of things, and that’s fine with me!  One of the things I’ve been working on for a few years now is getting comfortable on the back of a bike, and after lots of terrifying and frustrating bike rides over the past few years I think I’m finally getting the hang of it!

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A view from my biking birthday party last year at Eklutna Lake

Two years ago after my running injury I decided to do my first triathlon and bought my very first road bike.  I already knew how to ride a bike, which got me through the race.  But I basically stayed in one gear the entire time because I didn’t know how or when to change gears, and the uphills and downhills were brutal.  That year I went for a few rides under 10 miles but kind of stayed semi-afraid of my bike and how fast it could go.  The bike was riding me, not the other way around.

img_7602Last year I decided to get my first mountain bike, a gorgeous Liv Tempt 2 that is quite possibly my favorite possession.  I learned how to shift gears and biking became so much easier.  Then I took a mountain bike class and learned how to make turns without crashing, how to ride downhill without screaming, and how to ride singletrack.  My bike confidence improved so much and I found myself occasionally enjoying downhill sections and crushing the uphill trails.  I even participated in my first mountain bike race in the untimed “guided wave” with an experienced female rider leading the way.

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This year, the snow has finally melted at sea level and the paved trails are ready for biking (mountain biking won’t be open until June).  The Alaska Bike for Women race is this weekend, so I’ve been heading out on a few bike rides to get ready for it.  And I’m noticing something:  for the first time ever, I’m starting out the biking season feeling really comfortable on my bike!  I’m breaking less on the downhills, taking the turns without feeling like I’m going to crash, and getting up out of my seat more.  Everyone told me to be patient and that eventually it would just click and I’d feel comfortable, and that has finally happened for me!

During one of my rides last week I was riding through the forest on a drizzly afternoon, feeling all of the stress of my week melt away.  As I crested the top of a huge hill and went rushing down at top speed with the rain hitting my face, I literally laughed out loud at how amazing it felt to be riding like that.  It may have taken a few hard and frustrating years but I’m finally feeling happy and relaxed on my bike.  I’m hoping this feeling lasts (and maybe that it carries over to cross country skiing next winter?) because I’m anticipating spending a lot of time this summer on a bike!

What’s something that you’re working on getting more comfortable doing?  If you’re a cyclist or mountain biker, how long did it take you to feel fully comfortable on your bike?

12 thoughts on “Finally Becoming Comfortable

  1. I laughed reading your first paragraph because that is so me! As my ‘about’ page says… I’m into photography, hiking, running, knitting, traveling, etc. So yes, i relate to that! 😉

    Good luck on the bike race! It’s one of the things I could never do… I learned to ride a bike really late and I’ve never been really at ease on one. I really admire your determination to get better at it!

    1. Thanks! Haha I love finding other people that have just as many crazy hobbies as I do. I loved to bike around the neighborhood as a kid, but I think I took a 20 year break from biking so getting back into it was both easy (because I knew how to ride) and also tough (because I didn’t feel comfortable on a bike). I’m really glad I stuck with it because it did finally get easier and now I really like it! Just know that it’s tough to try new things that involve balance as an adult because our brains don’t really let us relax. Which is why I’m so terrible at cross country skiing!

      1. What you say about balance is absolutely true… I was a gymnast for nearly 10 years and although I still can do several routines I used to practice back then (10 years ago), it’s like I’m too afraid to hurt myself now? I think we get more conscious of the risks as we become older. I’m really glad you perservered and found another hobby to enjoy! It’s perfectly fine to be roughly good at several things instead of being an expert in just one… It makes us more interesting! 😉

  2. This reminds me it’s time to get my bike out again. I don’t mountain bike but love to go biking with my daughter on the weekend. Good luck at your race this weekend!

  3. I love this!! I feel the same when people ask my my hobbies, but I love doing so many things. I am definitely not on your level for as often I do things, but I love trying new things, and it seems the more new things I try, the more I want to try. It’s like an addition… but a really good one! 🙂

    I’ve been wanting to try trail riding, but haven’t gotten to that yet. Good luck your race!!

    1. I agree that it is an addiction! I love the feeling of doing something I never thought I could do. I’d love to actually get good at some of these things but for now I just love the feeling of knowing I can do it! You should definitely look into mountain bike lessons, it was such a game changer for me!

  4. I’m just like you – I LOVE trying new things and have a hard time committing to just one! It’s fun trying all sorts of outdoor activities. I would love to be able to get more into rock climbing – I go to a gym and it’s so much fun, but I want to get outdoors. Utah and Colorado are rock climbing havens and I want to take advantage of this state I live in!

    1. Oh I love rock climbing! But I find that it’s so expensive and the gym is so busy that I don’t go as often as I want. You definitely live in the perfect place to do outdoor climbing. I wonder if there’s any local groups that can help? I find that as soon as I sign up for a meetup group I’ll actually commit to doing stuff and the people there are great at helping me learn new skills.

      1. That’s an excellent idea! I’ve found some climbing groups on Facebook but my participation in Facebook is so on/off. But meetups also might help!

  5. I love your description about the steps you took to get from nervous beginner to mastery. Like you I run, swim, rock climb, canoe, hike, etc. Biking isn’t something I do, but I’d like to get better because I keep seeing everyone having such a great time. Step one is getting a bike! 🙂

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