First mountain bike ride horror stories

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    • #205967

      I bet most of us have attempted to introduce friends or even significant others to mountain biking for the first time, though some of those trips may not have ended well.

      I’m interested to hear about the horror stories from some of those rides. I have a least a couple stories, so I’ll start by sharing one of the oldest ones I can remember…

      Back in high school a few of us were into mountain biking and we asked one of our non-riding buddies to come with us. None of us had an extra mountain bike so we put our buddy on someone’s younger brother’s bike which was way too small and in pretty bad shape. None of us waited back with our friend so he was constantly trying to catch up, and after finishing the ride, we waited at the car for our friend to arrive. I’m not sure how long we waited, but it started getting dark so we ran back down the trail to find him. When we finally connected, our friend seemed really disoriented and was just pushing the bike slowly along the trail. He was dehydrated, and none of us had any extra water, so we filled a bottle with creek water, which he drank. We finally helped him back to the car and got him home. His parents ended up taking him to the hospital that night because he was so dehydrated (and he had a bad case of diarrhea from the creek water.)

      Needless to say, his parents weren’t happy with us, and he never went mountain biking again. And I learned some valuable lessons about what NOT to do when taking someone mountain biking for the first time.


    • #205992

      When I was 14 (summer of 1996?), i bought a Giant MTB for $400 at my LBS.  Compared to my friends Huffy and Murray department store bikes, it was a technological marvel.  Still a full rigid, but it had a decent rear derailleur, real knobby tires, and it probably weighed 25 lbs., due to the small frame size.  That was a solid 10 lbs. less than my buddies’ bikes.

      Naturally, I decided that we should ride them in the ravine behind our neighborhood.  This went okay for me, although I did go OTB at least twice.  The Huffy broke its chain, and the stem was loose enough that the bars were out of alignment almost right away.  The Murray was a hand-me-down from my friend’s older brother.  He made it about 10 mins before giving up and hiking out of the woods.

      Neither of those guys ever wanted to ride with me again 🙁    Now that I’m getting back into riding, they still don’t want to ride with me.

    • #205994

      In one of my earlier rides when I was in high school I went with a friend on a ride we called the gauntlet. It was a long distance ride approximately 35 miles with the option to cut it short and loop back. At around the 24 mile mark I was leading and I heard a snap followed by a loud ‘son of a bitch’ and many more expletives. His chain had snapped on a steep climb and he had drifted back into a tree before he could hit the breaks. We couldn’t afford mountain bikes at the time, so we rode old hybrid bikes (like 20 years old) that were in his garage. Still, it was riding a bike on singletrack trails. We were at least twenty miles from the car and there was probably no more than an hour until dusk. As neither of us had a spare chain, we began to brave the long walk. Shortly thereafter I realized I had a cable lock in by bag and an idea came to me. I hooked one end of the cable to the underside of my seat and he held the other end. I was actually able to tow him across flat sections and gradual climbs where he was unable to pedal due to his broken chain. Of course he could coast down hill and we walked the steeper climbs but it did save a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent walking our bikes. Every year we try to get together to ride the gauntlet. There has never been a repeated chain break, for now at least.

    • #205997

      Great topic, Jeff.

      Mine could include a few but I think about one often because it resonates weekly now, 27 years later. It involves my wife, who is what I’d call a new/beginner mountain biker.

      When we were first dating, I told her I was obsessed with bikes and she decided that she should ride, too, so we could spend more time together. I took her to Blue River Park in Kansas City, Missouri, which is really technical and rocky. First mistake. She fell, hard, on one stretch, and came back up with bloody hands that were really hurt. I responded rather coldly, “that’s just part of it. So get up and get going and stop acting like a baby.” I know, not cool.

      That really pissed her off and though she is the most easygoing person in the world, once she’s mad, she’s stubborn as a Missouri mule.

      Thing is, Diane is a dental hygienist, a profession she has loved since she first started. Read: needs hands to do a job she dreamed of doing since she was 6 years old.

      That was pretty much the end of her mountain biking. I have raced and traveled the country for bike events with her in tow. She has loved those events and had many good friends from all those adventures. But she never really got on a bike and went off into the woods again. Until recently that is. She got a plus bike and is now tearing around with me riding trails all over and loving it. The moral of this story: be good to those beginners because you might not get them back out for nearly three decades.

    • #205999

      Great stories, glad to hear I’m not the only one who has screwed this up. 🙂

      More recently we took our summer intern out for a mountain bike ride and I set him up on a bike that was too big for him. Not only that, it was a really hot day and while the trails we rode weren’t technical, there were some hills he probably wasn’t prepared for.

      He was a good sport about the whole thing, but after just 4 or 5 miles I could tell he wasn’t really into it. Pretty sure he doesn’t have any desire to take up mountain biking as a hobby anytime soon.

    • #206030

      Mine’s almost a horror story. Happens many falls ago when I was just starting to ride. 3 of us newbies decided to tackle white ranch one late afternoon, but parked in the wrong lot(upper). So after descending to the bottom, we finally realized we’re screwed. With daylight fading, we rode to the lower parking area to find a ride back, but its deserted.

      So there we were, 3 noobs at the bottom of belcher trail with 1 decent lamp and 1,800 feet to climb and its getting dark. Thankfully, the mountain lions were busy somewhere else, and we made it to the car around 8pm.

    • #206042

      On my third trail ride ever, almost a year ago to the day, my advanced rider bro-in-law takes me to a trail near his Charlotte, NC home called Sherman Branch.  He explained to me that there were several jumps, skinny’s, and other intermediate technical features but that I would be able to easily pedal around anything I wasn’t comfortable with.  Being only my third ride, it’s safe to say I wasn’t comfortable with ANYTHING!  But I digress.

      Half way into our ride, after he was growing frustrated having to wait for me at the top of every climb, he shouts out that we are riding under a gap jump.  Later in the trail, he shouted, the singletrack looped around and we would need to clear that gap and there was a smaller (and easier) jump out in front that lead up to the gap.  He stopped me before we made it to that section and pumped me up.  “You got this!  Just go fast….if you go slow you won’t clear the jump.”  And he takes off.  I had literally just watched a YouTube video that morning of a guy attempting a gap jump and not clearing it, going otb and knocking himself unconscious in the process.  With that heavy on my mind, and the words of encouragement “don’t be a p___y!” ringing in my ears, I start smashing my pedals.  I got my very first air on the first jump and it felt incredible!  I instantly fell in love with my bike and felt an overwhelming rush of accomplishment.  I was feeling confident and remembered what he told me and worked on getting my speed back up.  Just as I was approaching the lip of the gap, I remembered that video and the dreadful fate of that poor man who had no business attempting a gap jump.  Instincts kicked in and I feathered my rear brake.  BIG mistake!  I shot off the lip, over the gap, and thankfully cleared the landing with my front wheel.  I completely cased the rear wheel, slammed all my weight forward onto the bars and bottomed out my fork, twisted my grips and wobbled forward down the back of the jump.  Miraculously I did not fall but I seriously damaged my bike, the jump, and I injured both wrists.  I was less than stoked.

      Nearly a year later and I still give my bro-in-law a hard time about it, to which he simply replies “but you charged it!”.  I guess he’s right.

    • #206315

      We were in Alaska and I went camping with the wife and two other couples.  My wife and buddies wife stayed back while the other couple decided they could mountain bike I told them there was a ton of climbing and it was a hell of a down hill.    Anyway they went ahead and came riding with us.  She was crying he crashed and me and my friend the experienced rider were having a great time.     Did I forget to mention they were on Walmart bikes.    It was a learning experience for the new s. Who never wanted to go with us again.

    • #206334

      My girlfriend (now my wife) decided to start mountain biking so we could spend more time together, have a shared hobby, etc. So I take her out, we’re a couple of miles into her first ride and she’s doing great. We come to a concrete bridge that is probably a 4 to 6-inch step up from the trail we are on. I have given her some stellar advice like “just do what I do.” Well, she tried, but that front tire just didn’t get high enough and she went over the bars, resulting in a couple of nasty gashes on both elbows. After a couple of minutes to collect ourselves–her from her injuries and me from the thought that I just killed my girlfriend–we continued on and finished the ride, albeit a bit more cautiously. Here’s a pic of the carnage.

    • #206336

      I was on a hiking holiday in Tasmania, when my friends suggested we rent bikes for a day. They were pretty keen cyclists, and I basically hadn’t ridden bikes for many many years, since I was a kid.

      The objective for the day was Mt Wellington, the peak behind Hobart. Its a 40km round trip so not huge in distance. However, we picked up the bikes next to the harbour at sea level, and the summit is 1200m or about 3600 feet.

      So for my first bike ride, I climbed 1200m. I was pretty fit at the time fortunately (we’d just finished two weeks of hiking) but I just wasn’t that great at pedaling and shifting and walked a lot of the climb!

      The worst part, however, was that I was wearing cotton boxers as no-one had thought to give me advice on shorts. I basically assumed bikes were crotch torture devices and didn’t throw my leg over one again for several years.


    • #206337

      You know it’s experiences like I hear from what Mlombar above that really infuriate me to no end. His story is the exact same kind of stuff that happened to me while growing up with a cousin who was 5yrs older than me. Whether we were snow skiing, mountain climbing, whatever….he would just basically tell me to do something that I had NO idea what to do. And often times the results could’ve tragically ended in death. It was so irresponsible for him to take my safety without any regard or concern. And whenever someone tells a new beginner in mountain bike riding they are creating a recipe for disaster. I cannot for the life of me ever understand how anyone who KNOWS how to ride mountain bikes would tell a newbie to just “go for it” or something along those lines.

    • #206360

      In college I took a die-hard girl up in the hills on some double track. The climb up was a few hundred feet, but overall the trail had no real elevation gain. But, if you weren’t in okay shape, it tended to be a wake-up call that you needed to get that way.

      This girl was a never-say-die type and even though she was hurting, she never let on. I kept peddling and climbing and as we approached the top, I realized in what bad shape she was in. She got off her bike, sat down on the trail, and then asked me to keep going because she didn’t want me to see her throw up.


      A few weeks later I went on a ride with a roommate. He had a far lighter bike than mine and since I was a 200 pound clydesdale and he was a strong, wiry 130, he was just shooting up the hills. In an effort to keep up, I pushed hard. About 30 minutes into the ride, I finally got off my bike, sat down on the trail, and asked he keep going because I was going to puke.

      Neither of us lost our respective lunches, but it was a great lesson in karma. What goes around, comes around.

    • #288749

      Why you all have girl friend ride with you?(>.<) No one can help me when I fly in the air, well, my bike is still ok.

    • #288910

      Took my 17 yo son out with me on a ride this past summer.  Whereas we started out very easy teaching him some of the basics I thought I could push him a little bit after the initial indoctrination since he’s pretty fit and a good athlete, and heck, he’s got youth on his side.  At one point I was showing him how to bunny hop certain obstacles on the trail and how to get a little bit of air.  But after a few tries he endos and gets a few scrapes and bruises.  What made matters worse was that I took him the long way (20 mile loop) during a brutally hot day.  Not only did he drink both his – and my – bottle of water but he ends up vomiting in the parking lot when we got back.  All I kept thinking was “Nice work Dad.  You sure made this fun, didn’t you!”  And my wife sure didn’t make me feel any better when we got back.  Lol.

    • #288923

      My first mountain bike ride was on a 30 year old Rockhopper, it was a hand-me-down that I rode in high school but I didn’t take it offroad then. My parents brought it to me when my kids got their first bikes.

      I saw a gap between two bushes and I started riding some trails near my apartment (instantly hooked). Each time I took my bike out I went a little further in the woods. The first section was pretty flat but challenging because of TTFs and rocky soil. Eventually, I made my way to some off camber and then finally my first experience with anything steep. As I approached the rough fall line, I realized I didn’t know how to ride it and I pulled as much brake as I could. The old cables decided they had enough and came out of the bolt attaching to the cantilevers. Somehow I was able to get my feet down and not immediately go OTB. Before my Rockhopper was stolen, I was never able to work back up to that feature again.

      So Rockhopper gets stolen and I get a cheap bike from Dick’s with disk brakes. I had progressed somewhat and I decide it is time to try the fall line.  I get to the edge and grab some brake to control my speed and doesn’t the cable slip from the caliper.  I did some fun stuff on that bike but it literally fell apart and Dick’s took it back. Still most expensive bike I have owned.

    • #288970

      Down hill + speed + lack of control + tree clipping handlebar = superman flight into bed of poison ivy…

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