Ride through nature on two wheels of fun

By Matt Coughlin
April 5, 2001

by Matt Coughlin
assistant news editor

Lumps of empty space form in the stomach as you race along the trail and launch up over a root imbedded in your path. Sweat soaks you. Mud is splashed violently and indiscriminately on our leg and up your back. Chances are that you will take several spills today. But you are mountain biking, and that’s just the way it goes.

Perhaps what I enjoy most about mountain biking is the feeling that I get when rushing downhill- being in a battle for control as my front wheel bangs and bounces along over rocks the size of my head and unearthed roots longer than my bike frame.

“There is a feeling of victory when you overcome the elements, like reaching the top of a hill or tracking through the mud,” Tim Cody, of Stowe, Pa., said.

Mountain bikers are a unique breed. Sometimes we move in groups, sometimes on our own. Sometimes we want to race through nature, sometimes we want to stop and look along the way.

Mountain bikers do not have an animosity for cyclists.

“No, I ride on the road about once a week, when I don’t want to have too much excitement,” Cody said, smirking.

Mountain biking is a relatively cheap sport. Trails are many in the state of Pennsylvania. In this area, there are trails that run through Valley Forge Park on down to the Art Museum, through Wissahickon Park, and any other wooded or hilly area you can find.

Unfortunately, there are those who want to ban mountain biking in places like the mighty woods of the Wissahickon. Opponents to mountain biking claim that the bikes ruin the natural development of the parks and that they expand already existing trails.

However, the trails are expanded naturally by those walking through as well as riding. Mountain bikers are enjoying nature as well, and not in a destructive way, but rather as a challenge, argue proponents.

It costs nothing to mountain bike after the initial purchases of bike and helmet. An aspiring rider need only obtain a helmet ($20) and a bike ($300 on up). Helmets were not a requirement until a number of fatal accidents on the trail in the last couple years brought on an ordinance requiring headgear.

Matt Coughlin

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