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Adventures in Climbing Cross Training: Mountain Biking

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

Wowsa. It’s been a long time since I did a “not climbing” post… but I guess now’s as good a time as any. I also need to do an “in the gym” update… but will try to get to that later this week. Maybe this is all a way of managing my sadness that I’m missing a Smith trip this weekend… sigh…

I’ve been told by friends that single people are supposed to have three (or five, depending on who you talk to) fun activities with other people. Since I work several jobs, I cut myself some slack and aim for three fun activities that get me out of the house and office and around other people. One is my volunteering; another is climbing and all of my climbing-related activities; but I haven’t really settled on a third until recently.

Enter… cycling.

I’ve been a cyclist for years, though I did take a big hiatus. I did distance in the late 90s, until I killed my knees with bad technique. Climbing and hiking with weight have definitely helped rehab my knees and make them stronger… so much so that I got back on my bike for a few road rides in the last few months. Climbing Partner is a mountain biker, so awhile back he suggested we take a trail ride on a rest day to mix it up… we rode trails up in Port Townsend and had a blast riding until his chain broke; after his chain broke, we had a blast walking our bikes through PT.

Real mountain biking, though, is something I never — ever — thought I’d do. I’ve always said — if I’m on a trail, I want something with instincts under me (specifically, a well-seasoned trail horse).

One of these days, I’ll learn not to count anything out. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I accidentally took up mountain biking.

Climbing Partner and I took another rest day ride, out at Banner Forest in Port Orchard. We started out on nice, easy dirt trails, then Climbing Partner wanted to take a side trail. It looked easy enough, even on my decade-old Novara hybrid with road slicks… but it turned singletrack fast. Even on my slicks I made it through puddles and got a few little roots under my belt… after a bit, Climbing Partner let me get on his super nice hardtail, and I made it over a few more roots and through some pretty big puddles. Despite walking up a lot of hills; despite the fact that it was pouring down rain and freezing; despite the fact that I was soaked to the skin and literally shivering… I was HOOKED. And filthy. Awesome.

One of my girls, Candace, has a sweet girl-size full suspension bike that I got to borrow for this weekend’s ride out at Newberry Hill. Talk about awesome. I went with Climbing Partner and one of our other climbing partners… both are more serious cyclists than I, and both have more trail experience. I was super nervous about being able to keep up… but it turns out…

Climbing directly translates to mountain biking.

Aside from the physical condition I’m in from climbing and hiking with a pack, the mental game was familiar as soon as I really got going and was motivated enough to try things like back-to-back obstacles, or bigger roots, or steeper hills.

Once I consciously turned my internal dialog from “this is scary! I can’t do this!” to “This is so much FUN, I can DO this!”… I relaxed, and let my body and the bike flow through the obstacles, over roots, around tight turns, in between trees… I succeeded more than I failed. We did a few easier trails, a few moderate trails, and then a few REALLY hard trails… I was able to stay on the bike through the easier trails and almost all of the sections of moderate terrain. The hard trails bucked me, but they bucked the boys too, so I didn’t feel bad or get frustrated.

So, gosh darn it, looks like I accidentally accumulated another extreme outdoor hobby. I’m thankful that I have access to a few friends with my-size bikes to ride so I don’t have to make a decision about what to buy right away… I’m looking casually at bikes, but have yet to make the hardtail / full suspension decision so I’m not shopping seriously yet. I’m leaning toward a hardtail with a suspension seat post, but Candace’s full suspension was pretty freaking fun.

This blog won’t become (I promise) but I hope you’ll humor me in a mountain bike-related post every once in awhile. I’ve already met some worthy-of-a-feature folks, and I look forward to sharing this new adventure with you all.

What do you do other than climbing? Please comment, below!

Not Climbing

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.