In 2014 I rode a mountain bike for the first time. It was my first time on a bike in almost 30 years, & I’d barely ridden a bike before that. I struggled to stay upright and had no idea how to change gears, but I couldn’t stop grinning.
After that week I couldn’t stop thinking about dirt trails. I went to spin classes at the local gym to build fitness and a colleague loaned me his old bike so I could actually learn to ride. I joined in with kids’ coaching at Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club – & struggled to keep up with the u12s. But, boy, was I determined!
I met Dylan Rhymer a few months later & couldn’t believe my luck when I found out he had been riding mountain bikes for 30-odd years. With Dylan’s help, I bought a secondhand bike of my own and began to get more adventurous. My fitness improved but I crashed regularly, so I sought more coaching. The priority was to make me safer rather than faster, but in time John Pinnell introduced me to the Wild West Series of XC races. I was instantly hooked.
I rediscovered a competitive streak I long thought I’d lost but quickly realised I’d never be terribly fast, so I decided to go far instead. I asked Jodie Willett of Bikeritemtb for a program to help build my endurance, and as my fitness has improved so my idea of ‘far’ has increased from 3-hour to 24-hour races. Determined to achieve as may kilometres as possible, I sought sports nutrition advice from Dietician Approved and got help with my off-the-bike training from Total Balance Health & Fitness. Throughout my journey, I’ve also had great support from iRidebikes in Toowoomba – and this is something for which I’m extremely grateful.
I feel incredibly lucky to have discovered mountain biking at 40, to have someone special to share this biking adventure with & to have had the opportunity to pursue my mountain biking midlife crisis in a way I never imagined at the time. As for Dylan, he rolls his eyes whenever I mention my latest racing goal or bucket list bike-travel destination – & then does absolutely everything he can to help me achieve my goals.
I am most certainly still learning, but who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?