As part of Bike Week, David Johnson, patient care advisor in the contact centre shares his love for mountain biking and his top tips on getting started.
I used to get the bus to work when I worked at North Tyneside General Hospital but then decided to get a cheap bike as it wasn’t too far from my house. When I moved to Cobalt, the bike to work scheme came in, and I decided to get a slightly better bike. Some of my friends also did the same and we started going out and doing bits of cross country. We had no idea at first where we were going, but it was fun!
When I eventually went to my first mountain bike trail centre I didn’t have a clue what to do. The jumps and drops were daunting and I wouldn’t go around everything as was scared of coming off.
One weekend, Cobalt put a free bus/bike trip on over to Hamsterley Forest and about 15 people went. Most of the group went to do cross country and the rest of us went to the skills loop with a guide who showed me how to do my first drop off.
Once I had done that, I started getting more and more confident at obstacles and it’s gone on from there! I’ve even entered Hard Rock Enduro Races, had a shot at the world cup downhill track at Fort William and also the Alps/Morzine. I never thought I would’ve been doing any of this 10 years ago!
I love being able to get out doors into the forests and hills. There are always great views at certain places like the Lake District, Kielder and Scotland. I love keeping fit and its great exercise. You get a proper adrenaline rush coming down the trails. Although it’s a bit scary at times, it’s always a good laugh when riding with groups.
The physical aspect is great for fitness but there’s loads of mental health benefits too. I would say it helps me relax and not think about work stress at all – especially being outdoors in the fresh air. Even when I go out and bike on my own it gets me away from everything and it can help me feel a lot better and sleep better too.
The best advice I would give to anyone thinking of getting into mountain biking is to not go to expensive in case you don’t get into it. You can get decent starter bikes. Start from there and the more you get into it the more expensive you can go with bikes.
There are lots of cycle groups on Facebook that people can join to chat to other people and find out more.
Also – definitely learn how to fix a puncture and always carry spare inner tubes too!