Mountain Biking—Clipped in

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. ~Eleanor Roosevelt  

They say that your first time clipped into pedals on a bike can be intimidating. Yes, over a year ago I went clipless with my Mavic’s on my road bike, and that was nerve-wrecking, especially stopping intime for cars and traffic etc etc. But with time, the thought of having normal pedals became an idea of the past. Plus, with duathlons and triathlons, my biking shoes are clipless. It’s something that I got used to.

Being clipped into a mountain bike is, yes, intimidating, but it is also terrifying, atleast for a beginner.

I’ve done my share of mountain biking around Dutchess County– mostly 909 and Ferncliff Forest, but have also dabbled in Round Top in Greene County and Onteora in Ulster County. There are amazing Mountain bike clubs, such as Fats in the Cats and the up-and-coming Round Top Mountain Bike Association who have done really a great job at keeping mountain bike trails biker friendly and have group rides if you are ever interested. Heck, I even went to Kingdom Trails by myself–alone–to mountain bike ride. For those rides, though, I was never clipped into the pedals of the bike. Simply put, being clipped in is being attached to the bike. You and the bike are one. **In basic terms, you are stuck to the bike.*** 

With the amazing March weather we’ve had, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to spend more time mountain biking than normally. And, found out there are many more bike trails at Ferncliff than I ever really new which is amazing for me since it’s about a 3mile ride from my house.  Anyway, I decided it’s time to put on my big girl pedals on my mountain bike, and take them off my cross bike until next season, and learn how to ride clipped in. Actually, I need to know how to ride clipped in, because the first mountain bike race of the New York State Mountain bike series is in June. And, I need to crush that race (What, me? Competitive? Pu-leeez, not at all.)

Sun setting on the Hudson

Yesterday was my first time clipped in. And within the first seven minutes riding on trails I’ve done many times before, I fell four times. That’s when all the confidence built up from prior riding simply oozed out my pores and left me fearful, and dreading being stuck to my bike. Ohh, by the way, when you fall, your shoes actually clip out of the pedals without you even knowing it! The ride was fun, but with shattered confidence, I rode home after an hour, full of scratches and bruises over parts of my body, thinking “I’m never mountain biking again clipped in. I will forever be horrible at this. Everything hurts. Ughhhhhh why is there a hill on Mt. Rusten road going back to Rhinebeck?” (Yes, I wasn’t very chipper).

This morning I woke up and decided, after an amazing cup of coffee, the only way to conquer a fear is to face it full on…That, and to practice…and just know you are going to fall and get hurt. I got to the parking lot, clipped in, and was off. Riding a mtn bike clipped in is much easier for going up hill (1) because you can keep up momentum and (2) your shoes don’t slide off the pedals.

My car and bike--first in the lot!

And, after LOTS of psyching myself up…I was able to weave through trees, ride up over roots, and on descents jump off the rocks.Okay, they weren’t huge cliffs, but I’d say riding off a large 6-7 inch high rock is pretty decent for being concerned for my safety. ***Another FYI, it’s easier to go faster than to go slower when clipped in.***


Coming down...It's steeper than it looks

Then, the inevitable happened. No, I did not fall off a bridge into water like last year (which can be read about here). But I fell. And hard. You know, the type of hard where the end of the handle bar jabs you right in your trachea and kinda “blows the wind outta ya.” But, it’s bound to happen. I just hope the bar jabbing into my windpipe won’t happen again (knock on wood), but I did make it out of the forest alive and with more confidence mountain biking than I ever had using normal pedals. (Which, by the way, I switched off my cross bike myself…Learning how to build a bike from scratch really teaches you things.)

Seriously...It is steeper than it looks

So, if you are ever hesitant about going clipless, it just takes time, practice, no fear, and knowing that you’ll fall and hurt yourself at somepoint. And, you WILL get better. Trust me.

**Ohh, and it’s a smart idea to have health insurance, too, if you do such an activity. And to let someone know where you are going, just incase.And having a mobile phone isn’t always the best thing, since some dislike being thrown from your CamelBak or crushed against rocks when you fall. ***

Goose in pond....Just because I like taking pictures

When was the last crazy post written?

May 2023

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