Fresh air. Bush. Birds calling. Heart-exploding climbs. Exhilarating descents. Negotiating technical obstacles. Curses! and Big Grins!
Mountain biking combines exercise with beautiful scenery, and fun.
For the last two months I’ve been riding once a week at my nearest MTB trails, in Nerang Forest Park. Living in Wellington I was able to ride out my back door and be on a 2hr+ trail within 5 mins. Now that I’ve swapped the hills of Wellington for the beaches of the Gold Coast, I’ve got a 20 min drive. Add in time to load the bike into the car and then unload it, at each end, and I’ve blown an hour before I’ve even raised my heart-rate.
It takes time, and I don’t have a lot of that to spare, so I don’t mountain bike as often as I’d like.
But it adds something intangible to my exercise week. The feeling of exploring. “Where does that trail go?”. There is no comprehensive map of MTB trails in Nerang – there is a fireroad map (riding fire trails is legal), but the state haven’t embraced mountain biking and most of the singletrack is illegal.
So you’ve got to find the trails yourself! On my 2hr rides, I’ve mapped out a dozen different tracks on my GPS and am slowly building a web of trails – but there are still plenty of tracks that I’ve noticed but not followed yet. And then there is the whole North-Western reach of the park, which is going to require some 3hr+ rides to explore. Exciting times!
A mountain bike ride brings me into nature. The sunlight dappled trees. The kookaburras squabbling in the trees. The bush. The peace. We live busy lives, in busy cities. How about two hours where you see no people? No cars? No right angle corners, or signs. Just trees, and dirt and leaves and grass and rock. And silence. Just green. And brown. This is food for the soul!
But it’s not all cross-legged lotus poses out there. The trails get narrow, there are rocks, and ruts. There are roots, and drops. There are logs, and bridges. There are vertical climbs up scrabbly slopes. And there are cross-your-finger descents where you’ve got one shot to aim your wheel. Each corner offers a chance to weight your braking, pick your line and judge your exit speed. And sometimes you get it just right, and the bike flows effortlessly down the trail beneath you, dancing left and right as you float above it with a bloody great big GRIN!
And if you’ve got a riding buddy, you pull up at the next trail junction BUZZING! You’re alive!!
I’m not sure of the fitness benefits of a weekly mountain bike ride for a triathlete, but the quality of life benefits are HUGE!