Spoke Talk: Control key to biking safely
Steamboat Springs — I’m a classic example of ,“Came for the winter, stayed for the summer.” Though there are many reasons Steamboat Springs is a fantastic place to be in the summer, I stayed for the mountain biking.
As a roadie, I swore I’d never be a mountain biker. It looked too dangerous. Guys and gals with massive bandages on their arms from crashing or worse yet, broken bones. No, thank you. I prefer my body intact.
But then, the president of Routt County Riders convinced me to let him teach me how to ride a mountain bike, not a service he typically provides. I think being his niece helped.
On day one, we rode the wide dirt Sanctuary Trail to the Steamboat Golf Course, where we practiced going up and off curbs. That’s it — as beginner as it gets — and I was hooked.
I saved up my money and bought a bike, and I ride Emerald Mountain almost every day. Good news: This is my third summer riding, and no broken bones. I’ve had little tumbles here and there and some scrapes and bruises, but I have kept my body in one piece.
How? Well, I adopted a little piece of wisdom my father taught me when I was a teeny, tiny peanut learning to ski. He’d tell me, “Go as fast as you want, as long as you’re in control.”
Obviously, as a beginner, I was a slow skier. But as I grew, so did my skills and my confidence in my skills, and I started skiing fast. If a kid pops out of the trees in front of me or I catch a weird edge, chances are good I can maneuver a safe recovery.
Well now, my skills on a mountain bike are starting to improve, and consequently, I’m picking up speed. It’s fun and thrilling, but I know my limit. If I come whipping around a corner, and there’s a biker coming up the other direction, a hiker or a line of horses, I know I can avoid all of us ending up in a pile — or hugging a tree. It might not be graceful, but I am in enough control to stay safe.
Not only that, running into a hiker is never the right way to introduce yourself. It’s simply not cool.
So, for those beginners who are afraid of the bodily damages mountain biking can bring, just ride smart. Practice your skills on the easy trails, and take it slow. Always yield to hikers, equestrians and uphill riders.
For you hooligans who can ride the downhill courses backwards in your sleep, can you teach me? Only kidding. I don’t have the guts. The great thing is, staying safe doesn’t mean going slow. Not in the least. So get out there and go as fast as you want, as long as you’re in control.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling, be it road, gravel, trail, dirt jump or BMX. If you need help or advice, contact us. Find us at facebook.com/rcriders, routtcountyriders.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirsten Tidik is a volunteer with Routt County Riders.
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