I’ll start by saying I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed in my life. Okay, maybe a few times, but this was definitely up there.
We’ll get to my mountain biking humiliation in a minute, but first I’ll give you some context.
Now that summer’s here, locals will be throwing themselves into the outdoors, soaking up as much sunshine and fresh air as they can before having to go back to work.
One of the best and most popular ways to do is by grabbing a mountain bike and taking to the hundreds of trails in our region.
Mountain biking is massive in Nelson and, with more tracks appearing each month, the sport is taking off.
So we hit up one of Nelson’s top cross country mountain bikers, Henry Jaine, and got him to show me the ropes.
Local one-stop mountain biking shop Village Cycles generously set me up with a Specialized Stump Jumper FSR and helmet, and with that we were ready to roll.
Henry took me up Silvan Forest, one of the Mountain Bike Trails Trust’s newer tracks.
Up the top of Champion Rd in Richmond, it’s one of the region’s most accessible hotspots, perfect for beginners and with plenty to entertain the more advanced.
One thing you should know about me is that I never do anything in halves and, with a mixture of pride and competitiveness, I don’t like failing.
So when Henry took me up Alpha, the main track to the top, I went as fast as I could, determined not to look like a complete nana in front of one of Nelson’s best.
And that was going great, with Henry’s tips I was “beasting” the climb and even doing semi-okay at the uphill corners – until we got to the last couple of hundred metres.
And that’s when it happened.
Let me just say here that nerves, sleep deprivation and minimal food are never good fuel for tackling any exercise.
Thankfully, I noticed the signs early and sent Henry to speed up the hill a bit before gingerly walking behind a rock and briefly tossing my cookies.
I don’t think Henry knew what to think when I finally caught up, but despite my humiliation he was absolutely lovely about it all.
I have never gotten to the point of throwing up when exercising before but that was all on me, not the track, I pushed myself to the point where my body failed to keep up with my ego.
Anyway, we finally made it to the top of Hare Down, without any more spillage, and started the scary part.
What I expected was a lot of me careering sideways and ripping up my palms and legs whilst whizzing downhill, but what I got was a lot of fun and a fair bit of me doing skids and occasionally being a bit of a chicken and hopping off.
As you can see in the video, I did manage to come off at the very apex of a corner, sliding off and nearly taking out Henry who was behind me, another point of embarrassment, but other than that the rest of the ride was incredible and fairly uneventful crash-wise.
Silvan Forest is a beautiful place to ride, the views are incredible and you can take it as leisurely or as hard-out as you like.
Just take it from me – if you’re going to tank the uphill on your first time, make sure you have plenty of sleep the night before and eat and drink something to fuel your body for the climb.
Henry Jaine is a mountainbiking beast. So we asked him to tell us his favourite tracks and top tips for those not quite as good as him.
Henry’s Top Tips for mountainbike rookies:
1. Ride within your ability, start off on easy trails and build from there.
2. Stand up, and bend your knees and elbows like suspension.
3. Don’t look down, always look where you’re wanting to go.
4. Keep practicing.
Henry’s Top Five Tracks:
1. Silvan Forest.
2. Codgers Mountainbike Park
4. Peaking Ridge.
5. Kaiteriteri Mountainbike Park.