July 2012

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live on the move Mountain Bike Highs This ain't your mom's soup bowl By Michelle Page-Alswager I'm no stranger to the sweaty and won- drous world of biking (and not just casual cruising—we're talking long-distance, padded spandex, hydration gadget-toting adventures). But in my 10 years of biking I've always stuck to the pavement. And while it may not seem like a stretch to turn my two wheels into the rugged wilds for mountain biking, after embarking on my fi rst attempt I quickly realized I was in for more than just a muddier ride. I had come for a retreat with the Mad- ison Female Off-Road Cyclists—who offer weekly rides to get women involved in mountain biking— at Cam-Rock County Park. Standing with my borrowed mountain bike, I was hoping I wouldn't stick out as a newbie among the 30 or so women in attendance. But I was also in luck: the group had invited professional mountain bike racer Alison Dunlap from Colorado to offer her expertise. Th e fi rst thing I discovered was that when Where to go: While technique lessons in mountain biking are harder to come by, Madison is teaming with clubs that accommodate all skill levels. In addition to Madison FORCs, check out Hoofer Outing Club, Chain Smokers Mountain Bike Team and Capital Off Road Pathfi nders. you're mountain biking you're rarely in your saddle. Th anks to Dunlap, I learned to squeeze the seat with my thighs on down- hills and slide completely to the front of my saddle when ascending a steep uphill. In- timidating? Yes! But even after a few hours of mastering the track, the slightly scarier (and more thrilling) parts of the ride were still ahead. Most daunting were the "soup bowl" portions of the course. It looks just like it sounds: a very steep downhill into a basin followed by a very intimidating uphill to the other side. I watched as other women nervously took this on and, inspired, pre- pared for my turn. After scooting myself as far back on the saddle as possible I took a deep breath and whooshed into the bowl. Pedaling hard and landing safely on the other side, I let out a celebratory "Woot!" Th is cheer followed me all the way to the The Dish on Mountain Biking What to wear: Dress in layers and don't forget your padded bike shorts. They will be your new best friend! What to bring: A helmet, of course, and plenty of water. Many bikers use a backpack hydration system. What to expect: Sore legs, naturally. You'll also be amazed at the upper- body workout you get. A tip for experienced bikers: You'll appreciate riding with the clipless pedals often used by mountain bikers that prevent feet from slipping. end of the course when I was not only dust- ing the dirt off my clothes, I was holding my head high. Even better, I felt like my passion for biking had found a new home in the woods. Now on to shopping for my very own mountain bike. I'm hooked! 14 BRAVA Magazine July 2012 Photo by Amber Arnold

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