Mountain biking week 2: five things I didn’t know before

Generic Instagram-ready bike shot

I’ve been playing in the woods again. With the clock change and the nights drawing in I can only really go out at the weekend, but that’s okay. I’m not fit enough to ride every day right now.

As with my first ride, there are some things I’ve learned. The world of mountain biking, and bikes in general, is still a bit alien to me so I’m sort of winging it.

Here are this week’s lessons.

Puddles don’t dry up just because it hasn’t rained for a week

Smaller than last week, but still

Yeah. The big puddle is still there. And I forgot where it was, came tearing down the path and had to brake hard. Definitely an ‘oh balls’ moment. I dismounted and walked round it. Who knows what’s under that water? It could be anything.

Oh, and off the path, the woods are still flooded.

Again, not as bad as last week, but it’s taking a while to dry up.

There were various other puddles and I lack the strength and knowledge of gears to ride through deep mud yet (if any more experienced mountain bikers can enlighten me, I would appreciate it) so I did get off and push a few times. No shame.

Going out early makes for prettier rides

This is on my doorstep. I feel so lucky.

I mean just look at this photo. The light is divine. The woods look amazing. I am a lucky girl to live in Surrey and have this only five minutes from home.

I do better riding alone

Just me, Angus and nobody else

This is by no means a dig at my friends, but I realise I do better riding solo. It’s fun to go out with my buddies but lockdown has meant we can’t anyway, so I had to go out on my own.

I really loved it. Everyone I met out on my ride said ‘good morning’ or warned me of tricky terrain. I had a lovely chat with a horse rider whose horse was trying to work out what Angus was. Conclusion: mobile thing that isn’t threatening. It was lovely. Riding with other people (in fact doing anything with other people) means you have to wait and then there’s the ‘which way are we going?’ and then ‘can we stop?’ and so on… riding alone, I could do what I liked.

I did tell my family where I was going. You should always do that if you’re riding alone.

Proper cycling gloves were a good investment

*insert Tron music here*

Ok, so not an ‘investment’ as such. They were only £12.99 off Amazon. But oh my, what a difference. No sore palms! No sore fingers! And they’re big enough that I can stuff my running gloves under them so I have warm paws.

I will eventually upgrade to a better pair, and get mitts for summer, but these are pretty good gloves for a beginner to have. They’re from a brand called ‘cool change’, and you can find them on Amazon. Prices may vary, I think I got mine on a deal.

Mountain biking is a whole body workout

Restorative tea!

Your arms will hurt. Everything will hurt. Who needs a gym? Just buy a mountain bike and get thee to the woods. I swear I’m using muscles I never knew existed (and I was a die-hard spin class attendee) and I can feel my triceps begging for mercy.

I think it’s because you’re hauling the bike over rough terrain. You have to use your body to keep balance over roots and rocks and mud and mountain bikes are not light. I’m sure the high end ones are but an entry level machine like Angus isn’t exactly a featherweight.

It’s awesome. I love this pain. Just remember to stretch after each ride!

oOo

I really am hooked on this sport now. It’s like being back on a horse, only without the restriction of lessons and a horse that wasn’t mine. I’m so glad I got my bike before lockdown started again. The thought of going for a ride really kept me going this week!

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