The Mountain Bike Life

Riding my Mountain Bike has changed my life.  It has changed how I see the world, it has changed my body for the better, and it has changed what I do with my time from day to day.

But how is all that affected when you suffer injury and are unable to ride for six months?

Dianas Bath
Dianas Bath – D’Aguilar National Park, Qld

Above the Fog
Hidden Vale Adventure Park – Grandchester, Qld

Why do we like riding our bikes so much?  How do we get hooked?  What keeps us coming back to the trail?

Some of my happiest times have been while spending a long day with friends on our bikes.  There’s something magical about following a trail to see where it goes, or looking at a map and wondering what it would be like to try and ride from point “A” to point “B” only to discover some hidden gem of a place that you didn’t even know existed.

The cool thing about a Mountain Bike is that it lets you go a long way through relatively rough country – further than you’d ever get on foot and to places you’d never get in a car.  It’s an explorers dream come true.  It opens up the world to you.  On a full day ride you cover an amazing variety of country.

One happy faced rider I met on the trails once described it as “hiking on two wheels”.

Hobbling by the Lake
Lake Samsonvale, Qld

Recently I damaged a few ligaments in my knee.  I have to wear a knee brace and won’t be back on the bike for a long time.  I cried like a baby when I realized the implications.  Would my fitness disappear?  Would my world shrink?  Would I be consigned to boring weekends hobbling around on paths designed for cripples?

These questions have forced me to think about what it is that I really love about Mountain Biking.  The answers are useful whether you’re able to ride or you’re not, whether you’re a beginner with a short range, or a hardend  cross-country explorer who can ride all day:

"The Pinnacle" Lookout, Border Ranges NP
“The Pinnacle” Lookout, Border Ranges National Park, NSW

Mountain Biking allows me to explore.  But regardless of my injury and skill level I can still explore – it just takes a bit more imagination.  Last weekend I drove with one of my kids to the site of one of the toughest rides I’ve ever done: in the Border Ranges of Eastern Australia.  I only knew about this place because I’d experienced its magic first-hand on my bike.  This time I drove to one or two of the more stunning spots, and explored them slowly on foot.

I’ve been doing that sort of thing since my injury – visiting places I’d normally ride – and slowly walking through them on my crutches.   I can’t go as far, but the places that once brought me joy still do – and that’s always good for recovery.

Rendezvous - Borgan Road
Borgan Road, near Lake Borumba, Qld

Mountain Biking allows me to plan rides and take friends to amazing places.  But I can still do that too.  A couple of weeks ago I planned a tough ride through the Conondale Range for my friends.  I met them at the starting point, and drove to a couple of rendez-vous points along the way where I was able to supply fresh water and food.

They did a lot of hard riding, and we joked that it was the toughest ride I’d NEVER done 🙂

Even though I can’t visit some of those places at the moment, I’m still able to plan the rides and support the riders.  Afterwards we swapped photos and I was able to write-up an amazing day.

Joyners Ridge Road
Joyners Ridge Road, D’Aguilar National Park, Qld

Mountain Biking lets me soak up the stunning beauty of the world.  But I can still do that despite my present injuries.  Thanks to my past mountain biking experience I know of quite a few more amazing places than I used to. I can still visit many of those places via a motor vehicle and a short walk.

In 1889, Australian Poet and Journalist A.B. “Banjo” Patterson wrote “Clancy of the Overflow” in which he laments the stresses of urban life and longs for the “vision splendid” of the country as personified in the shearer and stockman, Clancy.

While they rode horses, and not mountain bikes in those days, I think Banjo Patterson sums up for me what it’s all about.

Here’s my rendition of his poem:

Are you facing some challenges that affect what you’re able to do on the bike?

How do you overcome those challenges?

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