The Mountain Bike Life

Author: Shannon Whissell

James Brown may have said it best – it’s a man’s (man’s man’s) world, but it ain’t nothing without a woman or a girl. Okay. Coming from a woman that may sound a little less than modest, but who am I to argue with the godfather of soul? When it comes to mountain biking you’ll find few people who will argue that it ISN’T a man’s world, but there are plenty of people of all genders who’d like to do…

Life. It’s what happens when we’re busy making other plans. Other plans like what this post was supposed to be – a) written for Monday and b) all about being Back in the Saddle again. See, Monday was supposed to be my first mountain bike ride since I took a tumble last fall. And I had this whole plan for pictures and talking about friends who we rode with and shaking the cobwebs off and how awesome it is to…

Yesterday Rivers and I spent a fun, relaxing afternoon cycling through some of the finer neighbourhoods of our city. A commuter ride together is a nice way to connect, especially on one of the first truly beautiful spring days of the year. There was only one distracting annoyance – one that I’ve been wanting to write about, but just wasn’t sure how to do it without sounding like the token mom on the site (which I am) or like a…

One of the things that amazes me about mountain biking is that it takes what should be a solitary experience and makes it social. I’ve mentioned before that when I first met Rivers I was amazed at the mountain bike community he was surrounded by – not only his (then) roommate and riding buddies, but also the broader community. I’m talking about the people who will tweet you a welcome if you mention you’re in their town then show you…

This past weekend our fearless leader Rivers, the founder and head of awesome things on this blog and the man whose passion has engaged nine other blog contributors, over 1,000 followers on google plus, and many more on Facebook and Twitter, celebrated a milestone birthday. He’s also my sweetheart. So what do you do when someone who loves mountain biking as much as Rivers does has a significant birthday? Well, you plan a surprise birthday weekend that includes friends, family…

I’m supposed to be working on a post for Monday. I need to get it drafted and shared out to our editors tonight, because I’m leaving in the morning for a weekend away. The thing is, I’m so excited about the weekend away, that that’s all I can think about. I have some ideas of things I want to write down the road – about mountain bike clubs and why they are great; about the particular challenges faced by women…

I don’t fully subscribe to the saying that ‘the clothes make the man,’ or that the gear/tool makes the craftsman. There are many instances in which people achieve great things with limited resource – a skilled photographer can take stunning photos with a pinhole camera; a dedicated fisherman can catch dinner with a piece of willow, string, and a hook; and a resourceful medic can perform a tracheotomy with a bic pen (okay, that might be an urban legend). From…

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because…

I’ve mentioned before the challenge of learning to ride in an area with a very steep learning curve. To learn steadily as a beginner requires trails that boost all three riding factors together – skills, fitness and confidence. When your local trails jump from a (boring) to d (no can do), it’s hard to gain the confidence to attack them, the skills to carry out the attack, or the fitness to get you there and back again. Luckily, I really…

Learning to mountain bike in an area like southern Vancouver Island, an area with hundreds of trail systems, a vital and active mountain bike community, and the most temperate climate in Canada to encourage year-round, is not without its challenges. For an absolute beginner, the many trails in this area are mostly far out of reach. Luckily, my riding coach/man-chanic/sweetheart is also an expert on the local trails, and is happy to have someone listen to that expertise. It’s funny…

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