I was introduced to mountain biking back in April 2010 with my friend Brad at Tamarancho. Several bike companies were hosting demo days, and I took a Specialized full-suspension MTB out for a spin. Here’s what I had to say two years ago about the experience:
“[I had] my first real MTB ride at Tamarancho. Thanks to my mentor Brad for being such a patient and supportive coach. I wouldn’t have survived without him. I was scared shitless for the beginning half of the ride and lots of walking and screaming ensued. But I began to enjoy the views and feel more comfortable in the dirt. I definitely have a lot more walking ahead of me, but with time I can hopefully stay on the bike – even through rock gardens.”
Well, I’m sad to say that I’m still pretty awful at riding the single track sections of Tamarancho. I did my best to keep up with Brad, The Bearded One and our friend Aaron, but I truly suck at riding switchbacks – and I’m especially bad at negotiating sharp right turns. No matter how hard I try, it’s super hard for me to swing the bike in that direction. (I blame my years of turning only left at Hellyer for this.) And the combination of switchbacks with lots of roots and rocks means it’s hike-a-bike territory for me. Some sections make me feel like I’m going to tumble down the mountain, while the narrow passages that squeeze between trees make me afraid of pedal striking. I did encounter another fellow newb out on the trail. She and her husband were walking a challenging woop-de-doo section that was peppered with rocks. I dismounted also and as I passed them, she said somewhat shyly, “I’m a beginner.” I replied, “Me, too!” And we smiled at one another and enjoyed our moment of scared solidarity. Fortunately, it wasn’t all white-knuckling and push-biking. I enjoyed the latter part of the loop where it opens up into wider, swoopier fire roads, and the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful.
We then headed to down Fairfax to check out Biketoberfest. Our framebuilder buddy Mike Ahrens was chatting with his friend who had an Adaptrac system on his rig; it allows riders to adjust their tire pressure on the fly. It’s a pretty nifty setup, and I love this sort of DIY ingenuity. Now if only someone could develop a product that removed the fear factor from my brain while I’m attempting technical sections on my mountain bike…