To put some joie into your trail riding, just let the children take the lead

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Family Vacations, Summer 1997

To put some joie into your trail riding, just let the children take the lead
by Jeff Spurrier

All You Need is Dirt

Bike Camps
By Michael Kessler

Gear: All the Right Stuff for Mountain Biking
By Douglas Gantenbein

In ten years of mountain biking, my cadence may be better, my aerobic memory stronger, but local trails are like a movie I've watched too many times. I know what lies around the next bend, where the tricky rock sequence bubbles on the edge, exactly how long it will take to get to the turn-around. I find myself watching my heart monitor more than the scenery.

The remedy, I've found, is kids. My two new bike buddies are ten-year-old twins Angelica and Caroline, and thanks to them, my second sight has been renewed. We set off recently on a desert trail with me whining an annoyingly adult mantra--Got enough water? Enough air in your tires? Are those helmet straps as tight as they can be? The girls weren't concerned with their hardware. This was not an easy after-school ride. This was an adventure, and one not without a bit of fear, especially during three crossings of cold, fast-moving streams. The first was a surprise, the second wide and clogged with mossy limbs, and the third short but steep. By the time we turned around, both girls had fallen, drenched their shoes, and Angelica, the stronger of the pair, was drying her tears.

But back at the car, the two agreed that the water crossings were the highlights of the ride--both the best and the worst part simultaneously. Like a Goosebumps book, they were scary but surmountable, one facet of the unknown ahead.

"It's a lot more fun on a trail because you don't know what's there," said Angelica. "We've been around our block about 5,000 times." For me, the pace may have been slower than usual but the adrenaline level was much higher--next time I'll leave my heart monitor at home.

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