Trying out mountain biking

Recently, I had been riding my bike around town and thought it would be fun to take it to the trails. I called up my friend Matt Roda because I know he does this kind of stuff. He let me use one of his super fancy bikes because mine is a piece or garbage. The bike he lent me felt like it had better suspension than my car.


We rode three trails: one out in Auke Bay, one out Back Loop and one out on Douglas. I can’t talk too much about the locations because I don’t know anything about the mountain biking community here in Juneau and I don’t want to cross any boundaries. At least not yet.

A large Costco pack of chocolate covered mangoes replaced my standard donut holes for the snack of choice on this trip. Such a beautiful day. It felt like summer at 65 degrees. Too hot to drive with the windows rolled up in my car. My Jeep only has a heater.

The first thing I learned about mountain biking is to get rid of the seat. Just push it far down and out of the way, because if you hit a large root and lose your foot pedals, you’ll injure your crotch. Next, the faster you go the more stable you are, even though the potential impact is harder.

The second day of dry weather made it so the trails were mostly mud free. Thankfully, bike suspension and wheels take most of the impact when going over roots. No time to admire the surroundings. Why is there no time to admire the surroundings? You are going too fast making sure you don’t die. This is scary. Why do people do this? I fell a bunch of times. Most of my falls were actually because I was braking too hard. As soon as you lose speed, your balance goes as well. Both of my hands and arms were bleeding. Thank goodness the chocolate mangoes were all eaten by the time I started falling or they would have been all over the forest.

My body is wrecked. I am 21 years old. I am in good shape; 4 percent body fat, 160 pounds. I exercise and I find joy in climbing trees and mountains. Right after this trail bike ride, I wanted to go home and sleep until the end of time. Instead I wondered around downtown like a lost dog, hungry and looking for a place to curl up and nap.

It’s tough to capture candid photos in this sport. You use both your arms and legs constantly.

I’m glad I tried mountain biking. I think maybe I should train on some less intense trails before I attempt to complete these ones again. I’m definitely still an adrenaline junkie; just not the two-wheeled down-trail kind.



• California-born and Alaska-bred, Gabe Donohoe has taken photos daily for the past five years. He is currently a student of the University of Alaska Southeast’s Outdoor Studies program. His photo archives can be seen on “Rainforest Photos” photo blog publishes every other Friday in the Empire’s Outdoors section.




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