Mountain Biking with G

By Green River Preserve

Every day, our Mentors lead groups into the realm of Green River Preserve. Some days it’s a hike to Uncle’s Creek Falls, where campers muster the courage to take the Polar Bear Challenge and stand for a few moments under the cold, surging waters. Other morning hikes might take campers to the Farm, where Farmers Phil and Rachel divulge their wisdom and knowledge of the earth and sustainable agriculture. For a special few, though, they have taken on a challenge that requires stamina, endurance and a certain will of the mind that many in the world today could never fathom. These campers have taken on the trails of Northwest North Carolina on mountain bikes.

I remember talking to our mountain biking Professional—known only as, G—about tagging along for the Session 3 mountain biking excursions. Little did I know, these campers had done this kind of thing before and on the first day, I was in completely over my head. These kids were catching air at every possibility. They were riding through terrain that I would have previously never thought could be ridden by anyone with less than multiple years of mountain biking experience. The thing is, these guys are fearless, and with an instructor like G, you learn that we all have the ability to handle anything.

It’s about safety, comfort and the confidence to look at an obstacle and say, “I can do this.” On the other hand, there comes a wisdom learned by knowing your boundaries. There are moments of self-doubt, or simply knowing that you’re at an obstacle that you are not ready to go for. In these split seconds, our campers are completely ready to stop, dismount, and walk their bike over or around the root, the rock, or the steep. There is no shame in this and they know it. The decision comes without any badgering or hinting that whatever obstacle may present itself is just too hard. These guys value their well-being and that is one of the most important, if not THE most important pieces of the experience that I have personally taken from mountain biking at GRP.

As for the rest of the experience, it was EPIC. One of our campers went mountain biking for their first time, last summer, with G. He now appears to be in the prime of his professional mountain biking career. These campers know how to shred, under control and with the utmost respect for making the right decisions, on the fly. While cruising the downhill section are where the campers get the most thrill, it becomes apparent that the challenge of ascent has an intensity that is embraced as part of the fun. It’s quite a thing to see the campers, one after another, literally climb a mountain on bicycles. At every opportunity, I would ride ahead and set up to catch some action photos as they flew past and every time, I saw our campers having the time of their lives, which is really what this whole thing is all about.

Story and Photos by Brandon S. Marshall