I bought my first mountain bike as a 40 yr. old. I took to the sport like an English rugby player to a dwarf-throwing competition and, several bikes later, I'm still getting as much fun from it as on my first outing.
These days I can't venture onto a tramping track without assessing its potential as a back-country ride. I have more bike clothing than casual wear. My bike costs way more than the vehicle I drive (tho', to be fair, the van's not that flash. It is, after all, a bike wagon).
And I really should cull the bike collection one day...
The only thing about coming to the sport late, is that, with age, an increasing sense of self-preservation kicks in. I abandoned the idea of getting into jumps the day I landed on my head amid pieces of my helmet. And I no longer have the patience or inclination to spend hours practicing manuals, 360 endoes or switchback wheelies. I'm happy to settle for watching Danny Macaskill on youtube.
But I do envy the skills of those who can & do. Many's the time I've thought, if only I'd got into mountain biking earlier...
So I got a particular buzz out of seeing the number of kids who turned up at the Park on Saturday for our Family Fun Day.
Everywhere I looked there were youngsters on their bikes.
Marty Clark and his Way2Go skills course was hugely popular - and not just with those on 16" or 20" wheels!
This is where they begin acquiring the skills and confidence to become mtbers. The sort of kids who'd rather be out playing on their bikes than their playstations.
The sort of children who can go out riding with their parents - at least, while mum or dad can still keep up...
Meanwhile, the pump track was getting a thorough work out.
At one point it looked like a blur of motion with so many riders on at the same time - the teens pumping hard enough to get air off the rollers, the younger ones pedalling the berms a little higher with each circuit.
And when things quietened down a little, the tots took their turn.
Starting early with colour co-ordinated bike & riding kit is also very important...
Alongside all this action, there was also some racing going on.
Marty Richards, seen here with daughter Tasman, was one of many who accompanied a child around the one-lap circuit before bombing off for a fast blast on the full course.
Despite some tough climbs, it was impressive how many young'uns managed to ride the whole 'beginner' route.
Not that those at the other end of the age-spectrum weren't giving it a crack either.
Even surpassing me in the veteran bracket, Tom Dunn showed that the miles you put into the legs when you're young can keep the wheels spinning six decades later...
These two photos were taken by Oliver Weber, along with many other great shots you can view in full quality on his website.
The client login is "family" and Oliver donates 50% of sales to the Mountain Bike Park.
Also working hard on the day were the guys from More FM who kept a steady supply of free bbq sausages on the go, nicely followed by some donated Talleys ice-cream tubs.
Straight after the race and handing out of spot prizes (did anyone go away with nothing?), most of the kids presented themselves to Emma Bawtree for some free mtb skills coaching. Emma divided these into U10 and 10+ and no doubt there were a few parents closely watching the workshops, although they would have been ably catered for by Emma's adult session that followed.
Anyone interested in joining one of Emma's popular wheelwoman coaching clinics can contact her on 027 624 5368 or email email@example.com.
Congratulations to fastest 3-lapper Jacob Anderson, chased home by 2nd & 3rd place-getters, Scott Barr and Kistof Zernikow.
Other results can be forwarded if you email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're a small group of committee members at the Park and putting on an event requires all hands on deck. The reward comes from seeing so many people enjoying themselves on their bikes. And who's to say that many of these "beginners" won't, one day, be the ones running the show...