One of the main reasons why I wanted to go on this mountain biking trip was due to my nagging desire to leave campus and get away from the library and the never-ending cycle of homework. The trip was going to give me a change of pace, a change of scenery, and a chance to do something outside of the norm. This was not the first time I had wanted to go on one of the trips hosted by the Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club (JHOC), but this desire is shared by many other students, so this was my first opportunity before the winter and the final stretch of the semester. You can imagine my joy when I found out I was moved onto the roster and I was actually going to go mountain biking!
I scrambled to get my medical forms in and look out for the informative emails about what to bring and what to prepare. The classic subway sandwich made the list of what to bring yet again — you'd be surprised by what a sandwich could do for you when you're out in the wilderness, starving for a delicious bite.
I packed both my water bottles and all my clothes the night before, so when I woke up, I immediately put on my running shoes and left for the 24/7 subway near Nolan’s and made my way to the JHOC facility afterward. After a bit of waiting and some adjustments to the mountain bikes, we were on our way to the trails. I happily got some more sleep on the car ride over to make up for halloweekend.
When we arrived, we were taught how to stay in a ready position for any curvy and treacherous paths and how to use the brakes properly, as they are more powerful than you think. The brakes definitely put the emphasis on stopping on a dime. Once our crew was ready, we got into formation and rode straight into the forest line.
The scenery in front of us was straight out of a dream. We caught the fall foliage at its best and all the leaves on the trees were a magnificent golden that rained when the wind blew. I was riding along the back, as I was a little scared getting back onto a bike, since I had not ridden one in months. The beginning of the ride was nice and easy-going, with wide turns and level ground. But the further we went, the steeper the ground fell beneath us. It’s nothing too dangerous, but it’s definitely something to look out for.
You would have never guessed the amount of effort that goes into biking. I am a seasonal runner with some hefty length runs under my belt, but these rolling hills hurt more than any steep slope I've run up before. But the leaders were beyond supportive. Evan and Solana kept the energy at an all-time high while Ryan in the back kept up the good vibes. Looking back, the trip wouldn't have been the same if they weren't on it with us.
COURTESY OF JOSEPH BECUTI-ORTIZ
About a little less than halfway through, we came to my favorite part of the whole journey: the whoopsies. A literal roller coaster made of simply the lay of the land and your bike — a steep dropoff that would ride straight back up like a valley in the span of only a couple tens of feet. The best part was when you went down and yelled, “WHOOOOP!” There were so many ups and downs in that section of the trail that I was beyond thrilled and excited. I may have fallen here and there, but I would do it all again, even if I had to sprain my ankle or twist my arm.
After the ride, there was a simple and enjoyable lunch (featuring a clever riddle tossed by Ryan that took an embarrassing amount of time to solve) and an easy trip back to the beginning of the trail. I was beyond tired by the end and all my water was gone, courtesy of my never-ending thirst. We ended it with a sweet detour at a local farm where we got homemade ice cream. It’s one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. You better believe I picked Cookies n’ Creme. With joyous banter going on all around us on the picnic bench, it was nothing short of absolutely wonderful. It was an experience that I was so glad I could partake in, and I can't wait for the mountain biking trips to begin again in the spring semester!