Riding a bike on a woodsy trail can be just what you are looking for.
Any physical activity is good for you; running has been particularly popular because of the famed “runner’s high.” But the state of euphoria that comes with reduced anxiety and a diminished ability to feel pain can be achieved when you do any activity that gets your blood flowing and triggers the release of endorphins.
“Mountain biking has the same effect,” Rebecca Rusch, one of the most recognized women in cross-country mountain biking and a world champion in multiple disciplines, says. “All kinds of cool things are happening [when you are riding],” she adds.
You are never bored
One of the many things Rusch likes the most about mountain biking is that the trail is always changing. No route is ever the same. The dirt’s texture is different and there can be more rocks, branches or leaves.
“The brain always stays engaged,” she says. You have to think about how to overcome all of the unpredictable obstacles that may come your way. “You’re thinking ‘I have to jump over the tracks; birds are flying by.’ I love that brain-body connection.”
You enjoy mesmerizing views
Mountain biking will take you to some beautiful places much faster than hiking. Springtime is when many wildflowers bloom, making everything around you a lot more beautiful. Imagine standing above Lake Tahoe on your bike with not a sound around you? The tranquility and splendor alone make this challenging activity worth it.
It takes you to amazing places
“This is one of the better ways to travel,” Rusch says. “It’s allowed me to see so much. […] It’s opened the world for me,” she adds. Rusch took a trip to Southeast Asia where she rode her bike for a month. The bike will take you to (possibly secret) gems a car simply can’t.
It’s a great way to stay active while injured
Like all sports, mountain biking has difficulty levels. Most people practice cross country where you ride for a few hours but there are no big jumps, back flips or other technical maneuvers. “It’s more of an endurance ride,” Rusch says. Most people, she adds, do cross country style biking.
It’s low-impact and works every part of the body. It’s a great activity for the arms, back and legs. “You work your heart but you’re not hurting your joints,” Rusch says. “It’s very friendly on the body.”
It’s better for your heart
Mountain biking pushes your workout routine and cardiovascular activity to a whole new level through the use of gear variety, bike structure and riding terrain. The heart pounds steadily, decreasing the risk of coronary problems.
A study analyzing 10,000 people showed that riding a bicycle for at least 20 miles in a week, diminishes your risk of having coronary heart disease almost by half.
It’s a bonding experience
“Cycling is the new golf,” Rusch says, citing the common phrase that describes how business meetings now happen. “It becomes a little social club,” she adds. You spend your free time with friends and people who have similar interests. You don’t need a facility to hang out. Just grab your bike and go exploring new corners.
It’s an escape
Mountain biking takes you out of the urban area. “It’s healthy for your body and mind to escape the urban jungle,” Rusch says.
You have to stay focused on the riding. There is literally not room or time to distract yourself with what a rough day you had at work. This alone is a good reason to get a bicycle and just ride.
“Another thing I really like about mountain biking is that there are no cars,” Rusch says. “We all know people who have been hit by a car on a bike.”
The sense of danger is a deal-breaker for some people. Help won’t get to you fast if you get in trouble. But it’s the lack of preparation, not the cycling, that is dangerous, according to Rusch. You have to know the trail; bring a charged cell phone; have plenty of water.