Hitting the trails: Cahaba Cycles sponsors free mountain biking class

Published 4:45 pm Friday, September 14, 2018

PELHAM – To ease the intimidation of mountain biking for the first time, a free skills clinic for beginners, sponsored by Cahaba Cycles, is held at Oak Mountain State Park every Saturday at 10 a.m.

Cahaba Cycles Mountain Biking 101 coordinator Stacey Davis said the beginners class started about four years ago and offers a way for people to be introduced to mountain biking by local instructors and mountain biking enthusiasts.

During the class, participants learn about braking, positioning and shifting on the bike and pedaling before riding a simple trail. Those who attend the class bring their own bike, helmet and water.

“If someone doesn’t own a bike, they can rent one and get half off the rental if they mention they’re attending the class,” Davis said.

Local mountain biker Jan Ardovino led the Sept. 8 class. Ardovino got her start in mountain biking in 2011. Ardovino said classes vary based on who shows up.

“Classes are tailored to the least experienced person,” she said. “I get a feel for what they know and go from there.”

Ardovino said mountain biking is all about learning to navigate obstacles.

“Don’t stare down what you don’t want to hit,” she said.

On Sept. 8, Ardovino led a class of six, all of whom had some experience. A lot of people in the class started out as road bikers.

“Road biking and mountain biking are two very different experiences,” said Juan Carlos, who started mountain biking six months ago. “The very first time I went mountain biking I wiped out. I was riding and I just got off path and wiped out.”

Carlos said mountain biking is harder but a lot more fun than road biking. Persevering and overcoming the obstacles is perhaps the most rewarding part about mountain biking, Davis said.

“It’s very empowering,” she said. “It gives you a sense of confidence. Women tend to be more nervous or cautious about trying it for the first time, but once they do it’s very rewarding.”

Caroline McKellar got involved in the sport after her father bought her a mountain bike as a gift about three years ago.

“I went into it open minded, but I was anxious at first,” she said. “Before that, I only rode in my neighborhood. After I got started my dad started coming with me and now he rides too.”

Grey Peterson, who has been mountain biking for about six years, said it’s all about terrain awareness.

“You always have to be alert and aware of your surroundings,” he said. “It takes mental effort.”

But Peterson said the mountain biking community is very welcoming to newcomers.

“It’s an inclusive group,” he said. “The more experienced riders will wait at the trail heads for the newer riders to make sure that everyone is okay. It’s a very social group.”

Davis said Cahaba Cycles sponsors the event as a way to give back to the community and as a way to hopefully expose more people to mountain biking. The Saturday morning rides will continue until Dec. 29, and are for those 14 years and older. Younger children who would like to participate must be accompanied on the trail by a parent.

For more information, contact Davis at Sdavis@lt.life.