A love story about mountain bikes.

17 years ago I had the opportunity to try out a real mountain bike for the first time.  I wish I could tell you the details about exactly when (sometime in early June of 2001) or where (somewhere in West Virginia) but as a goofy teenager heading into my senior year of high school I just wasn’t one to keep track of such things.  I was on a high school Fellowship of Christian Athletes recreational trip and the bike was a rattling, heavy, and beat up rental that had been around the block a few times.  It had more scratches and scars than the scraggly old tomcat, Shaggy, my parents adopted recently.  I can’t tell you all the details, however, I can tell you exactly how that first real mountain biking experience felt and what I knew about myself from that moment forward.

Tree weavin’ at Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio

In a sense, it was like all the things that I enjoyed such as exploring the woods as a kid, riding my bike all over town with my buddies, pushing my limits of endurance in high school cross country and track, and living completely in the moment all came together on that first trail ride.  To set off on a mountain bike you are doing something so engaging that you can’t allow yourself to think of anything beyond that moment for risk of wrapping yourself around a tree or dumping the whole lot into a pile at the bottom of a steep ravine.  In short, my first mountain bike ride was love at first ride…

That first mountain bike trip into West Virginia planted the seed for mountain biking that eventually led to me spending every possible moment on a bike.  Michelle and I moved to Idaho, as much for the bike riding as anything else.  I entered races, explored true wilderness areas, rode through hills, valleys, and mountains that have more ranch cattle per square mile than people by a 2:1 ratio.  Because riding your mountain bike often means breaking your mountain bike I spent a lot of time learning how to work on my own stuff, got a job in a bike shop, and spent more on bike parts and equipment than I brought home for a pay check.

Racing short-track MTB

Riding that rickety old rental mountain bike in WV shifted my focus and took me down the path that led to Ashland Bike Company today.  I got to travel to Sun Valley, Idaho and race on Scott Sport’s exciting new bike called the “Spark” and learned all about night riding by heading to the Boise foothills once a week for an early morning trail session before heading back to teach high school science for the day.  Mountain biking is my quiet obsession.  Its no secret to my wife that there are few things in the world I’d rather be doing than riding my mountain bike…

Racing in the Galena Grinder Marathon MTB race on a brand new Scott Spark sometime in 2008.  (I broke the shock controls in a crash during that race)

This is why Ashland Bike Company will always support mountain biking, among all the other things we do as a company.  The sport cannot sustain itself without people supporting the trails because the pressure for land use and trail access will win out unless supporters come alongside and help maintain the lovely trails we have in this area.  Everyone in Ashland knows about Mohican, but there are two other great options within 30 minutes of downtown Ashland available, as well as numerous others within a 1 – 2 hour drive.  For more about the great trails we have or to try out a mountain bike for yourself, call me at the shop or just stop in.  I’ll tell you a lot of funny crash stories and show you my scars and hopefully gain one more riding buddy for the spring trail season.

For more about our mountain bikes, check out the Online Catalog for our shop inventory.  We’ll have more trail reviews and bike features coming as the riding season (finally) gets going.

Racing at Vulture’s Knob sometime in 2005.
War Eagle Summit in the Owyhee mountains of Idaho/Oregon
Rolling the fat tires on the Fatboy (the bike, not me…) at Vulture’s Knob

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