I joined Baylor’s cycling club this semester because my foot was hurt and I figured I might as well have some fun working out with other people. I’ve been road biking since 2010, but had never ridden a mountain bike. The plan was just to do the weekly group road rides, and not any of the mountain bike stuff. But fall is mountain bike race season, and thanks to the persuasion of our gung-ho club adviser and a couple cute club members, I decided to give this mtb (bike speak for “mountain bike”) thing a try.
My first time on the mtb would be a race at Reveille Peak Ranch. I knew they had trail races here (like, running!) so I was eager to check it out for that reason. I rented a bike for the weekend from Baylor’s Outdoor Adventure program and drove myself the two hours to Burnet in the dark after work. I was signed up for the Sunday morning “Cross Country” race, which I learned was not really like cross country (that’s cyclocross haha) but meant “longer” race. Anyway, the team was camping the night before the race, along with the rest of the competition, at the Ranch. When I rolled up that night, cautiously navigating my little Yaris down the dirt road to the campsite, I felt a little out of place. My headlights illuminated silhouettes of mountain bikes with their weird geometry, hung in trees next to their owners’ tents. What had I gotten myself into?
But then we had a campfire and s’mores, I slept great, and my teammates were encouraging. Sunday morning: go time. It was raining and kind of chilly. I had no interest in beating any other racer, just surviving the race course. “If you feel uncomfortable,” everyone told me, “just walk your bike.” And we were off … After a fishtail fall in the mud five minutes in, I was in last place. I didn’t really care; it was nice to not worry about competing or losing. I tried to ride as much as I could, but I think I walked about half of it. Reveille is really rocky, so combined with the wet terrain I was extremely wussy.
However, there were a couple parts I enjoyed – swoopy singletrack and tiny amount of climbing I could handle. One girl in front of me flatted, and the rainy weather had discouraged most of the other racers. I ended up second place for Cat C. The guys waited for me to finish my race, and cheered me across the line. I survived. I even won a trophy, made from an old wrecked bike. Maybe mountain biking was going to work out.