I got my first mountain bike as a pre-teen, probably around 11 or 12 years old.
Today in my early 30’s, I ride a budget Giant Talon hardtail mountain bike and an old (but awesome!) Trek 1000 road bike. But honestly I take the mountain bike out 95% of the time. It’s just more fun!
I’m looking to add a trials bike, a bmx bike (never too old!), and a full suspension mountain bike to the collection (the 2019 Pivot Trail 429 makes me absolutely salivate). I’m a big believer in budgets so I’m working on it!
The Humble Beginnings
My dad bought me a bike of the Walmart variety (probably from a sporting goods store, but for the sake of the story we’ll call it a Walmart “quality” bike) … but who was I to care?! I had a bike! I rode that thing everywhere: around the neighborhood, nearby stores, friends houses, but never did take it out onto dirt trails. I didn’t know they existed – which was probably for the best anyway since Walmart doesn’t make the best trailworthy bikes.
I kept that Walmart bike. I still have it today actually. The picture above shows where it’s been for years out in the elements. It’s rusted and un-rideable. It does look like it could be restored, but since it’s not a trailworthy bike I won’t do it. If anything, it would make a great decorative piece.
In college I brought the Walmart bike with me. It stayed locked up next to a handrail of the 2nd floor of my apartment – it never got stolen somehow. I didn’t ride it much because I walked with friends to classes more often. One day, while walking to class, I saw a mountain biker turning the university campus into a huge feature of skinnies, ledges, dropoffs, and ramps. I couldn’t believe some of the things the guy was doing on a bike. It left a lasting impression on me. Not judging – but he was clearly a little overweight.. but WOW could he handle a bike.
The First Real Bike
Fast forward 5 years later after college and working a job – when I could finally afford to buy my own bike.. a REAL bike – a Giant Talon 27.5. It didn’t break my budget, it was a $650 budget mountain bike.
I was so stoked, no joke I took the bike for a ride on the only trail I knew of near home. Green trails first? Pfft. I took a black rated trail….not knowing it was black rated!
I can still remember the pain.
I went on that black trail gung-ho and came out of there a new man: with bleeding shins, hands and palms blistered, a flat tire, dropped chain, rocks in my shoe, and a scratched up “new” bike. Great times for sure.
At this point, I would think most beginners would give up… nah not me. I’ve seen too many Hans Rey, Ryan Leech, even Danny Macaskill videos most of them I found through Youtube in the early days. I was going to get right back up and try again.
So I learned the hard way. Just take it easy in the beginning. Leave pride at home where it’s safer. I was also by myself. Thinking back I could have seriously been hurt, but at least I had a helmet on.
I didn’t know how to dial in a bike either, nor did I have anyone to ride with. I just wanted to ride baby! It was a crazy experience for sure.
So since I still wanted to ride even after that whole ordeal so I guess it was meant to be. I actually liked mountain biking! I kept riding, with the same setup to this day.
Then I started traveling for work. A LOT of travel, and mostly by car. So I started taking my bike with me on road trips. This is where the real MTB adventures began. I didn’t particularly enjoy some of the places I traveled to for work… but exploring the local MTB trails made me enjoy my time out in odd places like Amarillo TX @ Palo Duro Canyon or Bentonville AR (I had no idea there was a massive mountain bike scene in Bentonville at the time).
Gradually, I began upgrades to my bike. I front air fork that completely changed the way the bike rides for the better. I changed out the rear derailleur. My 3x front chainring became a 2x. A bashguard was installed. I swapped out pedals. Got new tires (I’ll save the story about how I had 10 patches on an inner tube because I was too cheap to buy a new inner tube every time: Read Here). Chainstay guard to quiet the ride. I bought a whole bike tool box, and a bike stand. My love for mountain biking continues to grow over the years, and I realized it’s a super great hobby all around.
I have 2 trips that were most memorable: solo camping trips at Bentonville, AR and Palo Duro Canyon, TX because I was nearby for work and decided “hey why not?!” I rode all of Slaughterpen @ Bentonville over a weekend. I rode the massive loop at Palo Duro Canyon on a mountain bike adventure in December 2017, also over a weekend where I remember absolutely freezing butt off in my tent for 3 nights. It dropped into the 20s. Coldest I’ve ever felt.
The whole point of this blog is to someday go on mountain bike adventures the way guys like The Singletrack Sampler, BKXC, and Seth’s Bike Hacks. I envy those guys, what a life! If you guys can read and subscribe to this blog, hopefully one day I can do the same. Youtube videos would probably start later when I get a nicer bike.
Want to know more about my adventures? Stay tuned! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
It’s a great time to be a mountain biker, RIDER UP!