By Chris Newport
While mountain biking has been around for several decades, it’s had a reputation for being a male-dominated, daredevil sport. But more women are taking the sport by storm, and with good reason. It’s not only a great workout, but also an excellent way to meet new friends, challenge you and experience pure, unbridled joy. Plus, the bike industry is making it easier for women to enter the sport with women’s-specific bikes, gear and clothing. So, if you need another reason to try mountain biking, here are 6 more:
Zen on wheels
Women may be more susceptible to stress than men. Mountain biking is the perfect cure. It’s like meditation in motion. There’s no room for worrying about to-do-lists when there are roots to roll over, trees to avoid, and nature to enjoy.
Because squirrels are less distracted than drivers
If you have no interest in competing with busy, distracted, or angry drivers while riding on the road, you’ll be pleased to know that most wildlife has zero interest in that fact that you’re there. Instead of inhaling exhaust and listening to honking horns, you’ll enjoy breathing fresh air and listening to crickets.
It’s more than fitness
Mountain biking improves balance, agility, hand-eye coordination, and upper and lower body strength. While cardiorespiratory fitness is important, skill, finesse, strategy, and courage come into play too.
You get to learn a new lingo
When it comes to riding in the dirt, you’ll have to revisit the urban dictionary from the 1980s. Get used to using words like rad, wicked, stoked, shredding and gnarly. And be sure you’re familiar with terms like trailhead, flowy, technical, singletrack, suspension, session, pump track, endo, ratchet, rock garden, wipeout and wheelie.
When it comes to mountain biking, you can challenge yourself at your own pace. If something’s too hard, just get off and walk. If something’s too easy, ride it slower, faster or in a different gear. What truly matters is that you’re having fun, going with the flow, and leaving your judgment and apologies at home.
Camaraderie and confidence
Female mountain bikers tend to be incredibly supportive and encouraging, which is the perfect formula for addressing your fears, trying new things and boosting your confidence. There’s nothing more exciting and empowering than conquering an obstacle or trail surrounded by a group of supportive women.
If you’ve never tried mountain biking, check out your local shop and try some demo bikes. Don’t forget to bring hydration pack or water bottle as well as a flat kit (and a friend). Check out local clubs to find fellow riders and trails suited to your level.
Now go play in the dirt!
Chris Newport, MS, RDN, LDN, EP-C, CISSN is the Head Coach & Sports Nutritionist at The Endurance Edge. She founded Wheel Chix, a women’s only Triangle area cycling club dedicated to empowering women through cycling. Join her on Sunday mornings for the Wheel Chix Fearless Female Novice MTB Ride from Crabtree Park. Find Wheel Chix on Facebook and Instagram @WheelChix or join at WheelChix.com.