Finding Joy at Every Turn

As we enter the season of reflection and gratitude, we’re taking the time to focus on the joys found in the everyday mountain biking experience.  We’re not talking about the epic once-in-a-lifetime bike adventures –  these are all the tiny joys that keep us returning to the bike day after day; the smell of the trail, breathing hard up a rewarding climb or crunching down on a favorite snack mid-ride. We asked a few Ninja instructors to share their favorite, simple mountain biking joys and here is what they had to smile about…

Heading out on a solo ride and running into trail buddies you haven’t seen in a while.

Nicco Salvador (San Diego, CA)

Singing Tom Petty Free Falling at the top of my lungs on a fast and flowy descent.

Hannah Levine (Southern Oregon)

The sense of discovery; a new trail, a new maneuver which opens up a whole new line, or just the tools to experience riding in whole new way.

Gordon Wadsworth (Shawsville, VA)

Looking through a turn and feeling the bike flow through it under you as you come into it.

Colin McCoy (Seminole, FL)

Post ride chatter and laughter after a comfort zone-pushing ride with friends.

Ryan Degarmo (Brevard, NC)

The heavy sweet smell of grass flowers in a tall summer meadow.

Hillary Marques (Frederick, MD)

Catching air after timing a jump perfectly!

Heather McNamara (Brighton, MI) 

Sharing whats makes mtb the greatest sport on earth – when you get it, you get it.

Ben Lewis (Colorado Springs, CO)

Getting caught up in the flow on a fast downhill run.

Eden Jackson (Woodstock, GA)

Peeling down your socks after a muddy ride and seeing how clean your ankles are under the dirt line.

Kelsey Walsh (Madison, WI)

That first few seconds of greeting friends at the trailhead and deciding where we’re going ride and the anticipation of the adventure we’re about to have.

Patty Elliott (San Diego, CA)

The meditative serenity of a crisp misty morning ride amongst towering coastal redwood trees.

Darrin J (Santa Cruz, CA)

That lung burning feeling when you crest a tough climb and can finally catch your breath (and then have a snack).

Virginia Solomon (Park City, UT)

Clearing new jumps or drops for the first time and cleaning an especially difficult and scary section of trail.

Bekah Rottenberg (Hood River, OR)

Riding up a section that I once had to hike-a-bike. 

Lon Cullen (Hoover, AL)

Sessioning and picking apart a section of trail with friends – and FINALLY getting it! 

Becky Steele (Everywhere, USA)

Night rides in the PNW are the best especially when my lights pick up the shimmers colors of mushroom and fungus.

Dennis Sibilia-Young (Eugene, OR)

Reaching the top of a challenging climb, hootin’ and hollerin’ on fun descents and high-fiving friends at the end of the ride. 

Britta Berube (Beach, ND)

The rocket powered exit after slicing through a well supported corner. 

Mark Wallace (Truckee, CA)

Riding a new section of trail I built and seeing if it all links up as imagined – then seeing others ride it makes it all worth it!

Skye Nacel (Cottage Grove, OR)

Fall leaves, the refreshing air, and post ride hot chocolate after a long, cold ride. 

Courtney Moore (Frederick, MD)

During NICA practice nothing makes me smile more than when I hear “on your left” followed by “great job, coach!

Jennifer Braddock (Atlanta, GA)

Parking lot bike fixes – helping someone out always feels goods and it also takes me back to my race mechanic days, without the same pressure.

Andrew Farris (Durham, NC)

That winning feeling when you manual over rocks or roots and hold it long enough to set the front wheel down after it’s all cleared. 

Kim Godfrey (Louisville, CO)

Riding with friends and seeing their *STOKE FACE* when they ride something challenging for the first time! Pure, unexpected JOY!  

Missy Petty (Knoxville, TN)

Wind in the trees and the sound of birds wings.

Russ Risdon (Bend, OR)

Clearing a techy section or a jump! 

Gail Shafer (Pine Valley, CA)

The feel and sound of dirt under tire and tackling, practicing and clearing new technical challenges. 

Josh Hallock (Fort Collins, CO)

The rhythm and flow between body and bike over natural terrain is a therapeutic addiction that keeps me coming back for more. 

Jake Quigley (Tucson, AZ)

Catching up with friends while riding. Casual, conversational paced rides are the best.  Still more to talk about? Grab lunch or a beer. Or both! 

Lisa Gifford Mueller (Knoxville, TN)

Having the confidence to ride a technical downhill section of trail for the first time.

Gina Kenny (Willow Springs, IL)

The final count beeps to start my DH race run and putting together a good clean race run. 

Kristine Krauss (Louisville, CO)

The feeling of being “healed” during or after a ride when the rest of your life is full of challenges or stressors.

Brian Danz (Portland, ME)

Bombing downhill, jumping & dropping everything on the way down. Laughing & cutting up with friends and doing it all over again!!

Misty Mahoy (Mt. Dora, FL)

The sound of snow crunching under my fat tires.  The tunnel vision I get when riding at night flying through the woods.  The evidence of wildlife on the snow covered trail. 

Angela Brooks (Salem, WI)

Feeling the burn of a steep climb, finding new lines on a familiar trail, using jump skills & getting air on jumps & nailing the landing & drinking beer with riding buddies after a ride.

Michelle Tischler (Fort Worth, TX)

I love the sense of freedom, adventure riding brings you.

 Paul Walton (Albuquerque, NM)

So tell us, what simple joys do you experience mountain biking? Comment below!

Thanks to David over at Raptitude for inspiring us with his article, A Million Nameless Joys Await. We think David sums it up perfectly when he says, “In an era when it feels as though we’ve somehow seen everything already, or at least photos of it online, it’s comforting to know that out there, just beyond the boundaries of our own routines, await subtle flavors of joy we can’t conceive of.”

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