Images by local photographer Paulo Laberge.
If you're thinking of giving mountain biking a try, here are the top ten reasons you'll want to jump on the knobby tire bandwagon.
1. You’ll meet awesome people
Mountain bikers tend to be a pretty happy-go-lucky breed. Perhaps it’s all that exercising. Or the adventure. Or the fresh air. Regardless, happy people naturally tend to flock to other happy people. Join a mountain bike club and you’re bound to meet good-natured, like-minded folks with a propensity for laughter and a penchant for good brews (if you're located in Guelph, consider joining GORBA).
2. It’ll bring adventure into your life
Mountain biking evokes a certain spirit of adventure. Ask a mountain biker about their weekend and you'll hear glorified tales of scaling treacherous peaks, dodging branches or the odd rabid animal, and awkwardly returning to civilization covered in mud, stained with blood, and wearing a shit-eating grin. Sure beats small talk about the weather, right?
3. It’ll teach you about self-sufficiency
Being able to diagnose and repair mechanical mishaps is as much a part of mountain biking as bench cutting a trail or arguing over the right wheel size. Indeed, in a world of comfort and convenience, there’s something deeply satisfying and rewarding about relying on your own wits and two mitts to fix the inevitable trailside breakdown. And if knowing a thing or two about bike repairs means lending a helping hand to someone less mechanically-inclined, consider it a healthy deposit into your karma account.
4. You’ll boost your confidence
The feeling of making it up a monster climb, balancing your way across a narrow ladder bridge, or carving your way down a technical descent is pretty darn incredible. And luckily, most mountain bike trails offer heaps of obstacles, challenges and personal Everests, no matter your skill or fitness level. All you need is a bit of practice, some determination, and a kick in the butt to face your fears and push your limits…which happens to be a pretty good analogy for just about anything in life worth accomplishing.
5. It’s a killer workout…and it sure beats a treadmill
One of the main reasons people give up their exercise routine is because they’re just not having fun with it. Go mountain biking and you’ll find that for every leg-burning, lung-crushing hill you climb, you’re rewarded with a decadent descent you’ve been craving.
6. You’ll discover new parts of the world
Traveling by mountain bike opens the door to a world of possibilities. You’ll gain access to places often too remote for the tourist hordes and engage with locals in a more meaningful way than from the seat of a tour bus. But you don't need to travel very far. Chances are, your mountain bike will help you discover hidden gems you never knew existed in your very own backyard.
7. You’ll connect with your inner-child
Riding your mountain bike will help you get in touch with your inner-child, bringing you back to simpler days when life wasn’t all about crunching numbers or furiously typing away in a cubicle. It's about making the most of life's simple pleasures — like getting dirty, laughing with friends, and throwing high-fives.
8. You’ll get outdoors
Taking a break from the noise and havoc of daily life to enjoy the outdoors will make you happier, less stressed, and more energetic. Plus, since you're not on a busy road with cars and trucks flying by, you'll be enjoying time outdoors and breathing in fresh air...and generally just winning at life.
9. It’ll teach you to meditate
Riding your mountain bike gets you fully immersed in the here and now. You're rolling with it. Going with the flow. Living in the moment. It’s not like you’re given much of a choice in the matter with all the roots and rocks and trees along the way. Everything life throws your way — all the dirt, mud, and crap flung towards you — is magically blurred out. And that’s the beauty of mountain biking.
10. It’s therapeutic
Had a rough day? Mountain biking gives you an effective and positive outlet to turn to when needing to blow off steam. Throwing a leg over your steed and hammering it out for an hour can have the same — if not heightened — remedial effects as lying on a couch while relaying your childhood sorrows...without the hourly bill. Your problems may not have changed, but your outlook on them most likely will.
If you're looking for help, tips, and advice along your mountain biking journey, be sure to befriend your local bike shop. Heading to Arkell trails? Stop by Flow State to fuel up before your ride or grab a beer afterwards...or both!