Jake Miller: A new mountain biking experience
July 30, 2013
If you go
Women’s clinics are from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 29, and men’s clinics are from 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 30. The cost is $69 for lift access, equipment rental and instruction or $39 for instruction only.
Steamboat Springs — I always have been dangerous on two wheels — not the edgy, bad boy that girls date to spite their fathers kind of dangerous, more the "he's a threat to himself and others" kind of dangerous.
I don't know what the reason is for my inability to pilot a bicycle, but it is why I will admit I was a bit hesitant to take Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Mike Lane up on his offer to attend the Twilight Mountain Biking Clinic on Friday evening.
Memories of my friend's mountain-biking themed birthday party fueled my anxiety. I still have memories of me being so far behind the group of eighth-graders that my friend's dad had time to reach the destination, eat cake and bike back to check whether I still was alive — twice.
Still, I looked at the mountain biking clinic as an opportunity to learn and to ensure I don't make any more memories similar to those in eighth grade.
The Steamboat Bike Park is in the process of adding a beginner trail at the top of the gondola, and on Friday, I hoped to complete the clinic with as little embarrassment as possible.
"There is a lot of trail work going on," Steamboat Bike School supervisor Trevyn Newpher said. "We're trying to have trails that focus on progression."
Sure enough, my progression began right away.
Instructors Dave Reilly and Matt Geary initially apologized for reviewing skills on flat ground that seemed too basic. I nodded my head, pretending I had heard some of the tips thousands of times while secretly being astonished I never had thought of them before.
You're supposed to lean into a turn instead of just turning your handlebars? Huh, that just might work.
The best part of the clinic was when my classmates and I got to take what we learned on flat ground and apply it on the mountain.
The lessons I learned changed mountain biking from haphazardly sitting on a bike and trying to survive the trip down Mount Werner to actually enjoying what I was doing.
The goal of the bike school is "opening a door to the sport to newer riders and widening the door for experienced riders," Newpher said.
My mouth was not foaming in anticipation for the finishing touches to be put on the expert trail currently under construction. In fact, I had legitimate nightmares about the intense trail with jumps Dave described. However, I did, for the first time in my life, like being on a mountain bike. And thanks to Dave and Matt, I'm a little less dangerous on two wheels.
Jake Miller, a 2012 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, is working as a summer intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He recently completed his freshman year at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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