A Summer Without Mountain Bikes


It isn’t so. But it feels this way to me. I wanted to do a few mountain bike races this year. Like 3 or 4. I might, might get one this year. One! No better than last year (Putney Cider Classic when I flatted on the second lap and ran the bike the rest of the race–that sucked). The year before that was Domnarski Farm, where I won! That didn’t suck at all.  (Hasn’t happened before or since). That’s the one I hope to return to this June.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 10.25.34 PM

I really enjoy mountain biking and I want more time to do it.  I really like the zen flow, the quick decision making. I like picking good lines and having the strength to push the bike up, over and around a variety of natural objects and landscapes. Racing just means doing it with a bunch of other like-minded people. I don’t think I’ve raced enough mountain bikes to feel like I’m any good at it. I’m always surprised how few women I see mountain biking too–and certainly not a ton of women over 40.

This entire blog was started in part, to find more people to ride bikes with, after a crash I had mountain biking at Bachelor Street in the Holyoke Range. I was riding alone. I was going through a divorce, had a toddler in daycare, and a day off. I needed a good shred on the bike. On a trail I knew well, I crashed and got the wind knocked out of me. I had a moment of terror when I was dazed and sacred, unable to breath, thrown completely from my bike, with my knee impaled on a tree branch. A million thoughts ran through my head of how hurt I might be, how I was going to get out of the woods, and how I needed to get to my baby boy. After a systems check I realized was in fact going to be ok.  But immediately after I thought – I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t be out here by myself if I’m going to be a single mom.

Breathe Karen.  Breathe.

That crash was 10 years ago. Of course, the panic subsided and I got back into the woods. Most of the time, alone. 98% of my mountain bike rides are solo.

Since then, mountain biking has been the strongest symbol for maintaining autonomy and balance in my life.  It might seem counterintuitive, but I find a lot of peace and harmony in the woods, moving through difficult terrain, hard sharp rocks, slippery roots, mud and leaves and all manner of surfaces.  I love the elemental quality it brings.  I love the difficulty. I love the forest. When I’ve had a hard day at work, mountain biking. When it’s raining outside, mountain biking. When I’m confused about things in my personal life, mountain biking. When I have a itch that needs scratching, mountain biking.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 9.36.03 PM

When I am feeling out of balance, I start thinking mountain biking. Each summer feels like a negotiation of varying obligation. Work presses at me, even when I have scheduled time off. I still want to connect with others in the sport and I am happy I have a small handful of friends to ride with. I’m very psyched about my upcoming bikepacking adventure with Laura, with a possible guest appearance from my cycling buddy Gail. I need this trip on many, many levels.

I know a mountain bike race isn’t going to complete me. A simple ride will do. Or several simple rides strung together for the rest of my life. Starting with this summer.





About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

2 responses to “A Summer Without Mountain Bikes”

  1. heavyman927 says :

    Just found your blog and enjoyed it. This was the first post I read and could relate. i crashed while out in the middle of nowhere in a Texas state park while riding solo. There were no cell phone back then. After that, I wanted to ride with others. But you know how it is, before you know it you’re back to enjoying solo rides again. I enjoy both types of rides now but I still remember that sick feeling you get when you think, “Oh crap, now what?!”

    • Karen says :

      Yes, agreed. I really do love my solo rides but know it’s always a risk. Cell phones help me feel a bit more safe, at least a lifeline.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: