Extreme sports close are close to campus.
Western Greenway—a mere 20 minutes drive from campus—is this alluring piece of nature which holds tricky up and down hills ripe for beginner-to-medium level mountain bike adrenaline seekers.
I was invited to partake in this adventure hosted by the Outdoor Club a few weeks ago. I had tried MTB once before with catastrophic results. Scraping most of my limbs, falling over rocks and having the worst time. It is hard and scary, and I had decided not to do it again.
Having had time to reflect and to get into some other extreme sports, paired with a friend’s insistence on the matter (you should buy a MTB and go ripping into the mountain, there’s nothing like it and you’ll never go back!), I had come to think that I might eventually give it another try. Of course this was kind of a lie, since I hoped this “eventually” would run to infinity. But it did not.
I had a random lunch with Cragun Liston (MBA ’22 and Outdoors Club Co-President), who invited me to join the event. “Do you have a helmet?” I did. “Do you have a bike?” I did not, so I could not go, of course. Cragun would not have an extra one. “Not a problem! We can get you one from a partner who owns two.” Damn it. It is interesting that when we are confronted with things that we kind of want to do but not really at the same time, it becomes really hard to make up excuses. So I had no excuse and I commited to go next Monday after class.
We load up the truck and start talking business, of which I understood half. Bike anatomy has vocabulary that I am mostly ignorant of. But I was interested. Thankfully the partner that owned two bikes graced me with the better one. A proper MTB, which I immediately realized I had never used, and it takes some time to understand it. For my past MTB foray I had used a regular route bike. Big mistake. They are incredibly different. The handlebar is elongated giving you more control and agility, the wheels are wide with more grip and there is a lever on the left of the handlebar which can be used to regulate seat height. This is important because you want to have a lower center of gravity while you are descending, being able to modify it without having to stop. Above all, a MTB just feels different. A MTB is a tank which can run over rocks, roots and branches, while a route bike is way more vulnerable. One sign that this could be more fun than my last attempt.
For MTB you have to work for pleasure, and it is highly rewarding. You have to go up to go down, so we start out on a route that goes steadily upwards for a few minutes, warming up our bodies and giving me time to understand this bike. Later on we go down. First big challenge. Any advice? Trust your bike and look forward, look at the point you are headed to, not the one in which you are.
This is one of the sports that you have to go all in, because the faster you go, the easier it is to go over obstacles, and vice-versa. In MTB you do not avoid obstacles, you go through them. The tricky part is that you have to be nimble enough to avoid narrow paths of trees, moving rapidly sideways, which is harder to do if you go faster. The rapid response on the handlebar helps tremendously. Trust your bike.
I went all in, and had the best time. While doing MTC, it is easy to achieve a flow state and 100% focus. There are few feelings like going down a narrow path on a hill filled with obstacles and ripping through them.
Excellent weekday break adventure.
More info about the Outdoors club on https://engage.hbs.edu/organization/outdoors. Check it out for upcoming events and treks including Patagonia, Costa Rica and Kilimajaro!
Felipe Cerón (MBA ’22) is a Chilean who worked in consulting and retail. He is a musician, and he is an avid fan of films. Getting in ring, laughing over a beer and reading inspiring books are among his favorite pastimes. He thinks Pisco is the best beverage ever created.