Up to this point all of my riding had been on the road. Then something amazing happened: my boss asked me if I wanted to go mountain biking at Blankets Creek with him. I had borrowed a mountain bike once or twice during college and rode around on the cross-country running trails at the school, so I figured I could do this.
Turns out I could do it. Or at least I managed not to be carried out of the woods by Search & Rescue. But only barely. I was riding an older rigid 26” Gary Fisher with clipless pedals. I washed out my front end on several sections which resulted in a large hole in my shorts and a dark area on my right hip that has just now started to fade (some 14+ months later). It was if some dark force had decided to taunt me throughout the entirety of the Van Michael Trail. By the end though, I knew I was going to become a mountain biker if it killed me. So I went out again the next day. Luckily my boss took pity on me and installed a suspension fork on the Gary Fisher and we avoided the trail that decided to eat my hip twice. I didn’t fall down the second time and my fate was sealed. I was able to score an old GT full suspension bike from a friend who was moving out of the country and spent about $200 fixing it up (that’s with a bike shop discount and parts from my mechanic). Since then I’ve regularly visited the trails in the Atlanta area and gotten better at keeping the rubber side down and the shiny side up.