Mountain Biking: Your Next True Love
Not to brag, but I couldn’t ride a bike until I was 12. Every time my parents tried to convince me to try, I’d take a few shaky peddles on my much-too-big green and purple Schwinn, tip sideways and fall. My cheeks would turn red, my throat would close, and I’d run away huffing, furious with them for making me do something I felt incapable of.
Eventually, I did learn. There was a raffle for my middle-school class, and the winner would receive a brand new two-wheeler. Terrified that luck would strike and I would be chosen, I went home the night before and stole my 8-year-old neighbor’s Walmart special and drove clumsily up and down our street. I went to school the next day with skinned knees and elbows, but confident I wouldn’t bring shame to my family name if I won (I didn’t).
What I’m saying is, by all means, I should not be confident on two wheels. Yet here I am today, mountain biking.
You (Yes, You) Should be a Mountain Biker
I’m told now is the perfect time of year. The air is cold, preventing the incessant sweating of summer. The dirt is tacky, the freezing air and occasional snow make for an almost-velcro like traction to the ground. The leaves have mostly fallen, meaning you can see through the trees for upcoming turns, for fellow bikers, for animals or hikers. So really, there’s no excuse.
… Unless you’re terrible at biking (like me!). Then the outside conditions have nothing to do with your inside fear. But today I’m tackling that fear and I am here, riding trails with a girlfriend who is more talented than I will ever be on two wheels. It’s hard at first. Ascending seems a feat of impossibility (who actually bikes uphill?). Descending seems terrifying (I’m supposed to stand, balance, lean back, level my pedals, and stay coordinated at the same time!?).
We start slow, on a semi-level trail. The bike is incredible; nothing like the mountain bike of Middle-Schoolers past. The well-placed center of gravity on these bikes allows the rider the shift weight forward and backward to maintain balance despite the terrain. The suspension prevents bouncing while riding over roots, rocks, and bumps, and I’m thrilled at the relatively smooth ride (for now).
Within twenty minutes, I’m much more comfortable. I practice shifting my weight, and my muscles start to relax into this new movement. Soon I’m able to actually look around. I’m outside, the sun is shining, the leaves are slowly falling around me, and I just feel good. And if I can do it: manage to feel this way in a mere afternoon, you certainly can.
You Should be a Mountain Biker in Winkler/Morden
I know it seems ironic: ‘mountain’ biking in a place that could not be more void of mountains. But after a day of climbing the hills of the area, I can assure you there is no better place to start.
For beginners, there are a number of trails well-suited. Part of the Trans-Canada Trail connecting to Tinker Creek is an easy 400m, with only a 28m climb. If it’s your first time ever on a mountain bike, a ride like this is perfect.
In the intermediate category, there are a number of options. The Lake Minnewasta Trail right near downtown Morden is a 16-kilometer single track, with decent climbs and a flowy ride. There are also loads of rides in the Rim of Stanley. Check out Stanley Trail, Deadwood Trail, and Downtrack A.
For experienced riders, The Trans-Canada Trail in the area has lots of sections with steeper climbs and descents to thrill the more technically advanced.
Join the Community
It’s not just about getting on a bike and riding around. The mountain biking community in Winkler/Morden is a lively one that welcomes newcomers and makes them family. Country Cycle, a small business out of Winkler, aside from selling all-things-mountain biking, organizes group rides and contests throughout the summer season. There are weekly club rides, where riders meet on a different trail each week to continue exploring the area, among other events.
If you want to get involved, know you don’t have to be an expert! My afternoon spent at Country Cycle was met with thorough and encouraging input.
I’ve come just far enough from my wobbly, learning-to-ride middle school days to start feeling like I may just join this community myself. I say that now, just in time to start something new….Fat Biking Season!!
To Be Continued….
Visit Country Cycle! Stop in or visit their website:
For Trail System Information, I recommend Single Tracks!
TrailForks also offers great information including maps and level-guides (Important for newbies like me!)