I am a skier by nature and for me, so many of the skills from ski racing transfer over to mountain biking. The thrill, the adrenaline, the adventure are what I live for! Growing up ski racing in Vermont has honed in my sense of adventure and need for speed. It has shaped me as an athlete and a person. I never realized how many facets of my life were so heavily influenced by ski racing. The ability to push myself out of my comfort zone, beyond my limits, nerves raging is a part of the exhilaration I crave.
I have always loved biking. I started riding when I was at least 2 years old. Adventure is ingrained in my core. There’s a huge difference between cruising around, road biking casually, to riding a century ride. To me, none of these even comes close to the thrill of whizzing through the woods with nature all around. The Green Mountains are just that, full of amazing greenery, wildflowers, streams and rivers. Mountain biking serves as a way to exert yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible, gaining momentum on berms, boosting off of jumps and flying through the trees, bike underfoot.
I’ve had mountain bikes before, only ever a hard tail. I’ve ridden full suspension in a few different states. I was really pushed when I went mountain biking on a Demo Santa Cruz in Colorado for a wedding. The whole crew had grown up mountain biking, to the same extent I ski raced. It was second nature to them; they had been given the opportunity to thrive on a mountain bike at a young age. It was a bit intimidating. Riding the 401 trail in Crested Butte a few years ago really opened my eyes to the world of mountain biking. Of course pushed it a little too hard and sailed over the handlebars a couple of times. But with a smile that radiated for days, I knew it was the beginning of a new adventure. The scenery and terrain were that of winter, but in the summer, it was truly eye opening to think about ski trails in the same facet - but on a bike.
Last summer was when I knew I was ready to invest in the sport. I had more access to a variety of demo mountain bikes to try from our fleet at Skirack, to see what I liked and what I didn’t. I took out the Juliana Joplin and hit the trails with some co-workers on a Sunday evening shop ride. The encouragement and inclusion was truly heartwarming. Coming from mostly borrowed bikes and hard tail experience, I wasn’t super confident. I was a little hesitant to ride with people who thought of biking like I think of skiing. It is always intimidating learning something new, being a beginner again. People were really encouraging and helped boost my confidence with little tips and tricks. I have gained a ton of experience from co-workers and friends that I would have otherwise let flow by the wayside. I was able to test out about 5 bikes in a couple sizes that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try without Skirack’s demo fleet available.
Throughout last summer, I rode a variety of trail networks to keep things fun and interesting with the majority in Fellowship Of The Wheel’s (FOTW) region, closer to Skirack and where I live in Burlington. FOTW handles trail maintenance and advocacy in the Chittenden County area and is one of several Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) chapters.
VMBA has come a long way with development in its membership participation, trail maintenance, and individual chapters. FOTW in particular has had an immense impact on group rides and a ton of growth with ladies specific rides dedicated to the inclusion of all skill levels. This allows for the mountain bike community to grow and thrive. It allows for inclusion and comradery. It is an opportunity to build skills and share experiences with those just starting out.
This year I became the proud owner of a Juliana Roubion. It is my first full suspension mountain bike, so I decided to go big and bold. After demo-ing the Juliana Joplin with plus tires last year, I was hooked. The ladies specific Santa Cruz was everything I was looking for in a bike. Nimble, light, and radical, the Juliana Roubion is an amazing source of fun and growth. Smiles for days, capabilities for going big, and confidence to push the limits of what I think is possible, makes this the bike that can do it all. The more you bike, the better you get. The experiences gained are priceless. This bike handles like a champ and performs so lively in the descents, it has allowed me to achieve my mountain biking goals more quickly.
Progression comes with repetition, motivation and tenacity. Vermont has some of the most exciting terrain to grow your love for the outdoors. Going from the adrenaline rush of being on top of a rock roller that you know deep down you can conquer, to actually moving beyond your doubts and nailing it is enough to inspire me to want more. I am eternally grateful for the mountain bike community in Vermont. From my friends, to co-workers, to VMBA chapter sponsored group rides, there is an amazing network available to help grow the mountain bike community and culture that surrounds it. I’ve had amazing coaching from approach, to clearing mental blocks, to showing others what I’ve learned. The experiences are amazing. Being the youngest of three, I learned a lot through seeing others perform difficult tasks. That quickly grew into me fearlessly pushing the limits further.
Our community and surrounding have the ability to help us overcome some of the mental blocks that arise from doing something new. The mountain bike culture in Vermont is that of a large family looking to push each other towards growth and success. From shop rides every Sunday after work to just being out on the trail with one or two friends, growth is possible. Meeting new people in and out of work that are passionate about biking inspire me to push myself and try new things. It has helped me overcome doubt and provided reassurance with being new to something again.
- Molly Cournoyer,
Click here to learn more about Molly.
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