Can roadies really learn to love mountain biking? I like to think of that as reaching across the aisle, cycling style. That’s what happened the past two weekends when at first, we rode the Hilly Hundred in Morgan, Monroe and Owen counties, and the following weekend rode in the Big Woods Brown County EPIC Mountain Bike Festival in Brown county.
Being #TomandDeb we camped both nights, both weekends and you’ll see us wearing the same cycling jerseys we wore on Northern Tier. Apparently we are attached to them.
We thought what the heck, how much effort would two back-to-back 50 mile rides on hilly terrain riding carbon bikes actually take after finishing a 4,100 mile summer bike ride on steel bikes fully loaded through several mountain passes. Although we hadn’t ridden the Hilly in about ten years we knew now would be a good time to return.
And we weren’t disappointed. Stellar weather, incredible organization, well marked scenic routes and SAGs that were so well provisioned with food, apple cider and live music I thought I was at a family reunion. CIBA just knows how to get things done right.
What left me with the greatest impression at the end of the weekend was the volunteerism. So. Many. Volunteers. To put this event on successfully, there were so many helpers. All smiling. All eager to help.
We’re going back next year and you know what? It’s going to be a lot harder for us. Mount Tabor will feel like it really is, a short steep climb, instead of a little bump in the road for a couple of roadies who are still reminiscing about climbing along the Northern Tier.
Big Woods Brown County Epic Mountain Bike Festival
Gotta admit I was a little apprehensive. I don’t think I’d ever been on a “real” mountain bike before and mistakenly thought any bike without drop handle bars could be considered a mountain bike. Ooops. #wrong
On a whim, we signed up for the festival mostly because it was something new, it was on bikes and outdoors. Keep in mind neither of us have mountain bikes and Tom had been on a mountain bike proper only once. So he rented one and I rode a demo bike.
At registration Friday night, there were even a few raised eyebrows when I admitted to being a firsty. One person might have even asked, “And you picked this festival, the EPIC for your first ride?” Hummm that was a little daunting.
But, everything is easier when you first start because peeps expect you to make mistakes. There’s no pressure. It’s all for fun. A couple friends came down for the day and we were fortunate to ride in a women’s only group that included some instruction and support while Tom was left to fend for himself. Props for the EPIC event organizers to plan for this.
The moment I clipped in I knew it was going to be fun but borderline terrifying at the same time. Whereas on the road bike I can let my mind go, say prayers, work out emotions and pedal hard, the mountain bike ride requires 100% focus in the moment. Not the last moment. Not the next moment. The present moment.
From the warm up on the grass to experiencing maybe just a little bit of flow for the first time cycling on a trail, I was hooked. And it sure doesn’t hurt that the demo bike was a women’s specific, top-of-the-line, full suspension, carbon bike that handled so well it felt like it had wings.
Uber props also to the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association whose volunteers are responsible for building and maintaining 27 miles of mountain bike trails. Twenty. Seven. Miles. This extraordinary effort draws so many cyclists and their families to the area, not only for this event, but throughout the year. Again, the spirit of volunteerism for the love of the sport and the outdoors is remarkable.
Yep we will probs be returning to this event next year as well. The EPIC event organizers took care of every detail. Can we just all agree it was one EPIC post ride party with campfires, food and bevvies from Big Woods Brewery and live music?
Not sure if the love affair with a single chain ring and full suspension will continue but for now it’s a hot romance and I guess we are buying mountain bikes this weekend and going to learn how to do that. There’s always something new to learn.
And oh yea, about learning something new. I also picked up a volunteer gig for which I’m not yet qualified but am stoked about because it’s connected to cycling. I’m helping coordinate social media for Carmel Cyclery.
If you have a second, would you show me and Carmel Cyclery a little social media love by liking them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? And hey, I’m open to your comments both about Carmel Cyclery’s social media and mountain biking. Remember, with beginners there’s no pressure; it’s all fun.
At the end of the day, consider us just a couple of friendly amateur cyclists learning how to cross the aisle from road to dirt, cycling style and being a little outspokein’ about it.