Dear Mountain Bike Action Magazine,
This letter is to inform you of my wife's eligibility for the mountain bike lessons. I have been a weekend warrior mountain biker for the past 14 years, but have never had a healthy budget for mountain biking. I have mainly used hand-me-down bikes from my older brother or garage sale finds for my ride. I decided about a year and half ago I wanted to introduce my beloved wife to mountain biking. I felt this would be the perfect inexpensive way to get away from the kids every once in a while, get a little physical exercise, and enjoy the awesome mountains in our area. I decided a new mountain bike would be the perfect seventh anniversary present.
Beetle raging on his hand-me-down hardtail.
At the time my current set up was an old specialized hard tail with just over 7 millimeters of its original 100 millimeters of travel on the fork, and about 3-5 useable speeds depending on how good of day it was having. I knew my wife would need a decent bike to ensure a successful introduction and since funds were tight and my wife monitored our bank activity very intensely, I knew I had to be sneaky. I set up a savings account that was automatically deducted from my paychecks so I could save the funds needed to purchase her first mountain bike. I found a screaming deal on an entry level full suspension bike about three months before our anniversary. So despite the short comings of my hand-me-down hard tail I elected to spend the money I had saved on a sweet new ride for my wife. Sure it meant rocking the beater bike for at least another season or two but at least I would be doing it in the company of my beloved wife.
I have never been good at keeping secrets but somehow I managed to wait until a week before our anniversary before I gave it to her. She was so excited; I think it had to be one of the best presents I had ever given her. We went mountain biking that day and had an awesome time. She did however crash on a very smooth, fast, loose area. We got pictures of her first crash, and the minor scrapes that came with it. She didn't seem to mind too bad and admitted to having a really fun time.
Crash number two was only a few days after that on some loose dirt on a switch back. This crash did not go over as well because her hip landed on a cut off stump. She suffered more scrapes and a nasty bruise on her hip. I could tell she was hurting from this wreck, but she toughed it out and enjoyed the rest of the trail.
Mt. Biking Bliss.
At this point I should have stopped to think why she kept wrecking on loose dirt, and maybe given her more time to develop on lesser trails, but I didn’t. I was eager to share the full mountain biking experience with her. So the next weekend I found a sitter and brought her along with the crew to my favorite downhill romp. This was by far the longest and most technical trail we had been on, complete with stumps, rocks and a few drops. I knew the trail was a little out of her league, but I figured she could walk it on anything she wasn’t comfortable with.
We were having a great ride, me leading the gang and my wife being content to bring up the rear. It all seemed too good to be true. About ¾ of the way through the trail I stopped to let the group catch up. A few minutes later everyone had caught up except for my beloved wife. After about 15 minutes of waiting we all started to get a little nervous. I was especially concerned because I had seen a Mountain Lion on that very same trail about three weeks earlier. I started up the trail on foot since my bike was having a particularly bad day and only offering me two speeds. I had gone about 50 yards when I found my wife (I actually heard her before I saw her.) She was crying uncontrollably walking her bike down the hill. Her knees were bleeding and she was covered in dirt. She had found a way to lodge a stick through one sidewall of her rear tire and out the other. In my 14 years as a mountain biker I had never before seen such a feat. The stick was slapping against her frame with every rotation of her tire. When I asked her why she didn’t pull the stick out, she sobbingly replied “I thought it was like when you lodge something into your eye, you aren’t suppose to take it out until you get to a doctor.”
She had tried to ride over a rock that had about a two foot drop on the other side of it and had a nasty crash. She was beaten up pretty badly, her knees were cut up and she was bruised all over. She said she was done mountain biking, because she did not know how to do it. She cried for a few minutes after that, and then we investigated why she had crashed. Apparently I had never taught her how the brakes work and she was mainly using her front brake. This is why she would lose control when she would brake on loose dirt. I felt bad and apologized for not giving her proper instructions before sending her down the trail.
That was the last time she used her bike that season and to this day I have not been able to get her back out on the trail. She does ride her plush full suspension bike from time to time on the road (It’s the wrong size for me), but says she is a little too timid to take it on any trails. Meanwhile I am still riding my hand-me-down hard tail. The only thing that has changed for me is I am down to 5mm of travel and I am alone again. Talk about your all time back fire.
I feel at fault for her not wanting to mountain bike. She loved the few rides she went on despite the crashes she had. She says she would like to get back into mountain biking but does not feel confident enough to do so. With our kids becoming of age to start mountain biking I would love to make it a family activity. I know mountain bike lessons would give my wife the confidence to return to the trails. She loves being with me and our kids, and loves enjoying our beautiful Utah Mountains. Please consider my wife for the mountain biking lessons.