Local mountain biker Anna Ball remembers one summer when she seemed to have a permanent bruise on her derrière.
“I hadn’t ridden for a while and then I got back on,” said Ball, who still laughs when recalling the number of bumps and bruises that year.
But it wasn’t enough to keep her away from the sport — and she’s not alone. As the weather warms and the days grow longer, hundreds of mountain bike enthusiasts are pulling bikes out of their garages and sheds in preparation to hit the Hills.
“The daylight is longer; I’m antsy to get out,” said Kelly Combs, a local rider and vice president of the Black Hills Mountain Biking Association.
And there are plenty of places for that, according to local riders. From the Storm Mountain area near Rockerville to M Hill, the Black Hills are laced with great riding trails, said Tim Rangitsch of Acme Bicycles in Rapid City.
More trails have been opened this year for riding along Skyline Drive as part of the city’s 2012 projects. There are also great trails at the Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park, Rangitsch said, which has wide, smooth trails for beginners.
“And, you don’t have to worry about getting lost,” he added.
The mountain biking club exists to not only help riders connect with other riders, but to help expand and protect local trails, he said.
“We build trail systems, maintain and keep contact with the landowners,” he said. “We’re more about advocacy than events.”
Rangitsch has been riding since the 1980s.
“It’s a pretty simple, rewarding way to get out in the woods and get the rush of speed and flow,” he said.
That might be the reason mountain biking has seen a surge in popularity during the last couple of years, especially among women, Rangitsch said. Spinning classes attract women, he said, but sometimes they want to take it outside.
“People get tired of riding or spinning indoors,” he said.
Mountain biking, which he said can be done by anyone who is physically strong enough to “garden or take out the garbage,” is a perfect fit.
“It’s just fun, horsing around with friends,” he said. “It’s a different way to look at the landscape.”
Beginning riders need not be afraid, Ball said.
“It’s for people of all levels, all abilities and all ages,” she said.
BHMBA has group rides, so newbies can get a little training, particularly in shifting and braking. Bike shops are also helpful, Ball said, and can help inexperienced bikers find the right equipment, trails and friends.
The bottom line though, she said, is to have fun.
“Just go out and explore.”