"No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch"
There are numerous health benefits to mountain biking such as improved function of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, increased stamina, reduced blood pressure and waistline, better muscle tone, faster reflexes, just to name a few. Cycling is also great for your joints as it improves their mobility without too much impact, unless you crash, but one of the best things about this particular mode of exercise is that it is fun and brings sheer joy to the rider.
If the above list of benefits is not enough to entice you to ride, there are even more great reasons why one might fall in love with mountain biking. Below I shared 7 of my personal favorites.
1. Keeps me young: The bike is a symbol of freedom to me and my personal fountain of youth. Riding it makes me feel like a kid again.
2. A source of joy: Whenever I make it over a challenging obstacle I scream from pure joy. Every day I ride is the best day of my life.
3. A source of health: Allows me to spend endless hours submerged in the healing energy of Nature. Spending time in the local mountains and forests is my medicine of choice. It uplifts my spirit as I get high on Nature. Makes me want to take good care of my body since it is my engine. It keeps me and my reconstructed knees in good shape and provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning.
It is also great for my mental health as it reduces stress, improves balance, agility and tests the speed of my reaction to unforeseen obstacles. My brain benefits as well, as learning new riding skills stimulates the growth of neurons and creates new neural pathways.
4. Makes me stronger: It satisfies my competitive streak as I race against myself sometimes. Even the occasional falls help boost my immune system and prepare my body for more future mishaps. Some researchers claim that body tattooing inoculates the immune system to heightened vigilance against stressors associated with soft tissue damage, so since my body is tattooed with scars from all those falls it should provide similar benefits, right?
5. Builds character: Teaches me self-sufficiency and builds confidence. Forces me to learn as I want to know how my bike's drivetrain works so that I can maintain it myself, and be able to fix it in case it breaks down on the trail. Teaches me respect and care for others, as I often share the trails with other users and try to be mindful of their needs/safety. I use a bell to alert them so that they do not get startled when I suddenly emerge from the woods around the corner. The hikers seem to appreciate this a lot. The bears not so much which is a good thing.
6. Builds community: Provides an opportunity to be a part of a rider and trail focused community such as the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, and to develop lasting friendships. Trail building and stewardship are a great way to give back and I get a real kick riding the trails I helped build or maintain.
7. Eco friendly: Self powered mode of transportation. Moving relatively fast through space propelled by my own muscle power gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
I bet there are more good reasons, but these are the few I thought of while riding my bike the other day. If any of them resonate with you, why not give mountain biking a try and start riding today?
Interestingly, on my ride, another biker who stopped to let me pass said that every time he rode it was the best day of his life. It was as if he read my mind. Serendipity...