Mountain Biking - A View from the Top
Perspectives from an Avid Mountain Biker – Kait VanHoff
My love for mountain biking began fairly recently. With just 3 seasons now under my belt, I have truly fallen in love with the sport. My experiences in that short period of time have given me valuable insight and an interesting perspective on being a female rider in a traditionally male space. That passion prompted me to share my experiences here, in hopes that my words may resonate with other female riders, or with those looking to start.
I’m often asked the question, “How does one get into mountain biking with no experience?” Though this may sound cliche, the biggest thing is to just get out there and give it a go! It doesn’t need to be an intense ride to start out. Like anything in life, it’s best to 1) start out slowly and methodically, with a chill flow trail while increasing your pace from there.
My second piece of advice would be 2) to not compare yourself to others. Everyone learns at their own pace and others should serve as a source of inspiration not intimidation. Also, just like life, you will fall and have to get back up, fall and well, you get the idea.
Another key component to mountain biking that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is to 3) have a good attitude! No, you won’t master mountain biking on your very first ride or even 50th but that’s the fun of it all. Don’t set unrealistic expectations as this can be a set-up for disappointment. Enjoy the process and the journey, while those smaller success start to build over time and you’re able to look back at all your accomplishments with pride (and some really great memories!).
Also, don’t be afraid to 4) reach out to other gals to ride together! The biking community is an inviting and inclusive one. I don’t know one gal that is not stoked to ride with other women, and this creates a fun environment in which to learn from each other, while also building really great friendships. Some of my best friends, I’ve met through biking. Reach out via Instagram, maybe a Facebook group, or a local shop for potential club information.
With mountain biking, the reward is in the process and the feeling of growth as a rider, both mentally and physically. It has proven to be one of the best things I have ever done for myself, learning powerful lessons I never thought possible through biking. It has me made more confident, while continuing to humble me daily. Mountain biking has made me laugh and smile beyond comprehension, while moments later bringing tears to my eyes with frustration.
All of my experiences up to this point have allowed me the time to curate a collection of favorite mountain biking accessories that I’ve found helpful over the years. See the links below for details on a few of my favorite finds:
- Trails Forks - A great app that you can download to your phone. You can search specific trails and learn more about the terrain (level of difficulty, elevation gain and at what mileage the elevation gains, etc.)
- CamelBak Podium Insulated Water Bottles – These bad boys are amazing, especially in the heat of the summer! They’ll keep your water cold during your ride so it’s always nice and refreshing
- CamelBak Podium Flow Belt – The perfect size pack for a decent ride because you can fit one bottle on your hip and one on your bike bottle cage - I also fit snacks and an extra layer in here
- CamelBak Hip Pack Large – This one is great for longer rides and it has the water bladder inside, rather than putting a water bottle in your pack
- CamelBak M.U.L.E. Backpack – For long ALL-day rides, this pack is perfect! Very comfy and while keeping the airflow on your back so you don’t have an insane amount of back sweat
- POC Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts – Love the length of these and they’re so comfortable!
- Backcountry Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts – Love the adjustable waist on these, also the length is so great.
- Kavu Tank Top – Breathable and comfy.
- Helmets – I’m pretty particular with helmets and I love the Smith Session Helmet and the POC Kortal
- Sunglasses – Smith Wildcat have been my go-to! I love the changeable lenses and they fit my face so well.
- Pearl Izumi Chamois– You’ll definitely want these under your shorts! They will SAVE you! As well as some Chamois Butter Her
- Knee Pads – Protect your knees ladies! These pads are very breathable and lightweight, which let me tell you…is a must for me!
- Gloves – You’ll want to snag a pair of gloves so that your hands don’t get wrecked (especially on the downhill)
- Long Sleeve Layer – This windbreaker packs up SO small and can fit in my hip pack, saving me on rides where I thought I was going to freeze.
- Long Pants – For those chilly fall rides, these are key! They’re still lightweight but they’ll keep you warm
Mountain biking has given me such an appreciation for having an able body and mind that allows me to get out and pursue something I love. The ability to push my boundaries and challenge myself is such a blessing. Hopefully y’all can find that same appreciation in one way or another – to be outside in nature and soak it all in! Don’t forget…. You are a badass and you got this! Believe in yourself!
The moral of my story is simple, you’ll never know until you try, so just get out there! Don’t feel like you need a pro-level bike or gear to start, everyone is growing and improving in their own way. So, stay in your lane and show up for yourself, I promise you – the reward is rich.
Want to learn more about Kait VanHoff? Check out her Instagram @kaitvanhoff
*In sponsorship with CamelBak