Why did I start riding? Short answer, ‘cause its fun!
Long answer.... I started first on a little blue Schwinn with training wheels passed down from my brother. Just riding around the neighborhood. Then I graduated to a Schwinn Predator, more of a freestyle BMX bike because that's what my brother rode and we were obsessed with the movie RAD (haven’t seen it? Click here). I mostly rode it around the neighborhood hopping curbs and going off homemade jumps made of logs and a sheet of plywood (not very big, not super extreme).
Later, I graduated to the mountain bike my mom wasn't using and in high school I finally got my own mountain bike, a Specialized Hard Rock. Fully rigid. I even took it places like Mt Tremblant to try my hand on dirt trails but didn't know anything about the local trail networks. In college I became friends with a couple girls on my ski team who had mountain bikes. One of them worked in a bike shop. Teresa Beer. We called her "Beers" for short. She was my first mountain bike sensei. We went to school in Western Upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes Region where there was phenomenal riding, lots of classic east coast roots and rocks and woods for miles.
We formed a small group called Girls & Dirt. I think I still have one of the sweatshirts we made with iron-on transfers. It was mostly just the three of us. Beers, Christie "Mud Tetanus" Bielmeier, and me, "Endo." I think 90% of our rides included me eating s#*@ or having at least a minor incident, drawing blood, breaking something on my bike, or otherwise having mechanical issues. Half the time Beers would end up leaving with my bike. "Don't worry, I'll take it in to the shop and fix it right up," she would say.
I owe my entire original bike handling skills to Beers. She taught me a lot on every ride. It was a general custom to try and re-try trail sections that either of us had trouble with. We would also stop a lot for on the spot trail maintenance: fallen trees, muddy sections, etc. I think I got really lucky. I had friends who were into biking, happy to teach along the way, help fix my bike, and dust me off when I ate s#*@, but above all we always had fun.
By the time I finished school I was hooked. Riding multiple times per week, traveling across the state to try new trails, and 24-hour races were really popular. We rode at night for fun and ended up doing a five-woman 24-hr race. Our team name was Bitches and Beers. Best team name ever!
When I moved to Utah in 2004 I found new bike friends, a couple new senseis to share local knowledge about Utah’s trails and the best campsites. I graduated to a full suspension trail bike. And a downhill bike. And a 29 inch hardtail... I have a problem now, hah! And most of my summers have camping/bike trips scheduled for every other weekend. It’s an amazing excuse to visit new places or disconnect and hang out with friends and fresh air. And the operative word is still FUN!
I love being able to pass on the gift of riding to women who are newer to it. People had to wait for me to learn, so I have no problem waiting for others. Other days you might need to just ride for your health (which includes fun). On those occasions, I love riding with people al my level. You can push each other if you want, or just simply enjoy the ride and the friend time.