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Lessons in Mountain Biking: Dealing with Slimy Trails
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Lessons in Mountain Biking: Dealing with Slimy Trails

Our mountain bike ride started off with my taking the “official” entrance to the IPT trail. I sat back and went down the hill effortlessly. Travis was behind me and commented on how well I had done it, something that surprised me but at the same time gave me some excitement. I felt a sense of pride over my little victory.

As soon as I had gotten to a place to stop the sunglasses came off; the woods were exceptionally dark compared to the rest of the world. This would be a challenging ride because it would be my first time riding truly slimy trails. When the trails are slimy that can affect how you do your hill climbs and various other technical aspects. Slick mud in spots can make your tire spin out; it becomes all about weight distribution.

Travis was very encouraging as I continued along the trail behind him, he would sometimes give pointers or reminders that I may have to sit and spin vs. stand for my climbs. I approached things a bit more cautiously because of the slippery areas. There were a few climbs where Travis was surprised I made it up and I was given even more encouragement. Riding on slimy trails is not the easiest thing one can do, if you want a challenge try the Decorah mountain bike trails when they are wet (but not too wet!)

We opted to go on North 40 where I encountered areas that I had to walk, but the log I always avoided I managed to go over this time. That alone was a great victory for me on this day! Logs can make you feel nervous for sure, especially when you are new to mountain biking. You can go slowly and keep yourself more back on your bike to avoid going over the bars. You put faith in your bike and your basic handling skills, just let the tire go over the log and know that it will land somewhere over the log. Just roll with it.

The steep incline where I had to sit far back on my bike made me nervous because I could see the wet earth and rocks under the tires. Something about seeing the rocks a darker grey from being rain-soaked made me extra cautious. It took me a second try to go around the corner with the ever present worry “Am I back far enough?” To which Travis always says “You’d know if you weren’t.” After we came out of the North 40 we went up Gunnar where we ran into two other riders. It was a popular night! After Gunnar we did a fun loop through the pines where Travis noted that I’m doing a lot better with picking my lines. Picking lines is choosing the path of least resistance which keeps your ride flowing.

Once we were out of Gunnar we opted to try going on North 40 the opposite direction. There were a few sections where I ended up having to walk, but the section that threw me for the biggest loop was yet to come.

It was a steep downhill; Travis said to have the back of my seat out in front of my stomach which shows how far back one had to stand. You go into a downhill that goes around a corner and over a root which would have as much of a “bump-bump” as the log. Then when you go over the root you have a sharper left turn. This was a section of trail that took me perhaps 5-6 times to actually get myself over my fears and over the dreaded root. When I finally made it over I almost cried, it was a sense of relief and I was so thankful I didn’t biff it. The rest of the ride went alright and the ride through IPT was pretty good as well. 

I did have my first foot-down ride though the IPT trail tho, which made me a little bummed. Near the beginning of the trail you have a downhill that has a tire poking part way out of the earth. While riding back up the hill I happened to run over the tire which flubbed me up. I took the opportunity to ride back down the hill to have a do-over because I knew full well I could get up the hill just fine. 

Overall it was a great riding day that was full of challenges and small victories. My handling skills are improving and Travis bestowed upon me many compliments of my achievements of that day. I have a ways to go but I continue to grow and learn more each time I ride. That makes me happy and keeps me motivated to introduce other women to mountain biking!

More about challenge, fun, slimy, biking, mountain

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