So how did our mountain biking adventure begin? Well, it all started with our road trip from St. Louis to Driggs, ID for Mitch and Erin's "party" reception. The whole Prissel clan made it out to "Wydaho" for the event, and almost everyone brought a mountain bike. The day after the party, Tabb and I rented mountain bikes from Mitch's shop so that we could join the mountain biking Prissels (Robb, Paris, Paige, Dillon, Gus, Boone... basically everyone except us) on their afternoon adventure.
Here I need to provide a little intro into my previous cycling experience. Yes, I know how to ride a bike, and I spent many a summer afternoon riding around the neighborhood or my grandparents yard when I was growing up. In college, I got into indoor cycling classes, so most of my recent cycling has been stationary. I even own a pair of cycling shoes with SPD clips for the indoor bikes. (SPD clips and pedals are pretty much the only mountain bike-related thing I knew about before starting all of this.) Needless to say, while my legs are somewhat in cycling shape, I have zero experience biking in the real outdoors. But I'm getting to that...
Before embarking on our trip, we rode our bikes around the paved streets of the complex we were staying in for the weekend. It was in this very moment that I fell in love with dropper seat posts. I had never seen one - never even heard of them. Being able to change the seat height at the push of a button makes it so easy to get into the right position. I guess that's another thing I have learned from indoor cycling: the height I want my bike seat at. When you're on a new bike at the gym and you have to adjust the settings each class, you sometimes find yourself halting mid-workout to re-adjust. That's not the case with the dropper post! Just click the button, *swoon*.
Thankfully, toting us rookies along, they decided to take us to an easier trail: Sheep Bridge. We biked there from where we were staying so that we wouldn't need to tote all the bikes (and it was close by!). Even though we were climbing, we were on paved road and the incline was small. I thought to myself, "Oh, this will be just like any other bike ride." Once we arrived at the trailhead, that thought immediately escaped me. We started biking on dirt roads - simple - but then there were rocks. Not gravel road type rock, cobble-sized rocks right in the middle of the path. Naturally, I tried to avoid them, and at first, this was possible. Then we got to an area where you couldn't avoid them.
Now, I'm going to call this "Baby's First Rockgarden", but I'm sure all the mountain-biking Prissels will laugh at that because it was probably too weak to even be considered a "rock garden". But hey, you don't learn about "rock gardens" in Geology! My first, and most important, lesson in mountain biking: Bicycling on rocks is tricky! Riding your bike over rocks takes some getting used to, and I would guess that this is the main takeaway from everyone's first mountain bike ride. Initially I tried to avoid rocks, which sent my pedals scraping into the sides of other rocks... not. good. But a quick way to learn to keep your pedals up! Apparently, as you get more skilled, you learn to maneuver the pedals around the rocks. We will see how that goes.
I yelled toward Tabb while we were riding, "I thought mountain biking would be an exercise, not an exercise of the mind!" I felt like I spent more energy staring at rocks and deciding whether to ride over them or around them than I spent peddling. It didn't help that I had to suppress the geologist in me from simultaneously identifying the rocks (again, we were biking IN THE TETONS!). As for the uphill and downhill, I didn't have too much trouble. The rocky uphills, those were rough. Paris and I would de-bike for those. And I mainly just rode the brakes during the downhill parts... not ready for speed yet.
The next box on my mountain biking experience checklist: water crossing! On our first cross, I made it perfectly fine. Shoes in the water, kept peddling, made it through no problem. On the way back, however... Robb kept talking about a large rock that was in the water, telling us to avoid it. I thought, "I avoided it the first time. This will be fine. Just keep peddling." Now, a key requirement of being a Prissel mountain biker is taking some B.A. pictures of your ride. If you don't believe me, just check out Mitchtagram over here. So naturally, when we get to the water crossing, we all pause and take turns getting our "water crossing" photo/video. Unfortunately, I got so psyched out looking for this large rock that when I saw it, and I was riding straight toward it, I de-biked right into the river. *Fail* I wasn't really embarrassed, just mad that I had done it the first time and messed up the second. But then, when I get to the other side, of course Mitch, King of Teton Biking, had joined our group and saw the whole thing. I told him I had made it across just fine the first time. "Uh-huh, sure."