Curious to try mountain biking? Western’s Outdoor Center is sponsoring an introductory mountain bike ride on Wednesday, May 17 at Galbraith Mountain.
The ride will cater to people with little to no mountain biking experience and will be an opportunity for people looking to enter the sport to learn more.
“We’re not looking for people with previous experience or skills, we're looking for folks who are excited about mountain biking,” said Maeve Monahan, Western student and one of the two trip leaders.
The Outdoor Center will be providing mountain bikes and helmets to those who need them.
Monahan said a lot of people can’t access outdoor recreation due to financial barriers. Mountain biking, as well as other outdoor sports, can be costly and often require a large payment upfront.
“I think it’s amazing that we are able to provide mountain bikes to folks,” Monahan said.
For those who have been wanting to try mountain biking but don’t have the finances to purchase a new or used mountain bike, this is the perfect opportunity to see what mountain biking is like.
Monahan says those considering attending the event should sign up on the WIN page to RSVP.
Mike Storm, owner and founder of Intrinsic Flow, a mountain bike coaching and guiding business operated out of Bellingham, said beginner group rides are a great place to start a person's mountain bike journey.
“It’s great for beginner riders to see their struggles in other people,” Storm said.
Riding with people of similar skill levels often leads to the most improvement. Being able to watch each other progress and fail in similar ways is a good way to learn the basics of mountain biking.
Evan Steinhilb, a first-time mountain biker, said there is often pressure to have the nicest and newest gear.
However, this shouldn’t deter people from trying, Steinhilb said. He also said he feels the mountain bike community is full of outdoorsy and outgoing people.
“I think people who ride bikes in Bellingham are just stoked about riding their bikes. Simple as that,” said beginner mountain-biker Leah Anders.
Mountain biking is a difficult sport but also a rewarding one, Anders said. It’s a great way to get exercise, boost your dopamine levels and connect with people and nature.
“It’s a fantastic natural antidepressant,” she said.
Storm has been coaching beginner mountain bikers for the past 10 years and has ridden mountain bikes for the past 20 years. He said it’s important for beginner riders to go at their own pace, and finding a riding group willing to wait and go at that same pace is also important.
“Picking up a new sport or hobby on your own can be really hard and discouraging. Having a community behind you that supports you at every step is so important,” Monahan said.
The goal of the event is to increase participants’ confidence on mountain bikes, providing them with the skills, knowledge and gear they need to keep riding, she said.
Leveling your cranks when coasting, relaxing your arms, practicing front brake control and looking ahead are a couple of tips Storm shared for beginner riders.
“Be patient and go slow,” he said. “The skills will come with time.”
Spencer Arps (he/him) is a campus life reporter for the Front. He is a semi-professional mountain bike athlete, product photographer, Bellingham born and raised, and enjoyer of Whatcom County's natural beauty. On a daily basis you can find him picking bluegrass tunes, holding a camera or riding his bike.