Black Diamonds, but Make it Biking

Ankles and shins caked in a layer of dust. Beads of sweat dripping down the frame of a sun-kissed face, red from the heat and exertion of the continuous downward press of a pedal. Fingers strained from gripping handlebars, bracing for gravity’s unfailing pull. Muscles tensed in anticipation of the bumps that are sure to ensue from the uneven ground. 

It’s one thing to bike on a boardwalk with the ocean rushing past you in a blur of blues from the crashing waves, or even taking a “stroll” up the U campus – which is anything but a stroll, let me tell you – but it is an entirely different thing to mountain bike. And I mean really mountain bike. 

Growing up in the mountainous area of Idaho –  it’s not all potato fields believe it or not – I grew fairly familiar with mountain biking. I got more into it this past summer and tried to go at least once a week, building up my confidence and ability over the course of the three-month break. Despite my growing knowledge and experience with the sport, I still have a lot to learn and many more trails to explore. 

In February, I was able to travel south to St. George with some friends for the long weekend and ride a few of the trails down there. It was an awesome trip and it was great to experience biking in a different landscape than I am used to. We biked about eight miles on our first day there through the Bearclaw Poppy trails. I really enjoyed the terrain of this area. It required enough work to be rewarding and had multiple paths of varying technicality levels to choose from. I may have been extremely exhausted after completing this first ride, but I felt confident in my abilities and had fun in the process. However, day two was another story. 

The first thing I noticed on that second day, right when I woke up, was how much my backside hurt. I’m not kidding when I say that it felt like I spent the last week riding bareback on a horse through the prairie. Needless to say, getting back on a bike was rough. Very rough. 

If there is one takeaway from this, let it be this: padded bike shorts. If you are interested in any kind of biking that exceeds a commute to work or a casual cruise, INVEST. They may look funny and may feel a little odd when you wear them, but your behind will thank you greatly. 

Once I got used to ignoring the relentless pain my body was in, biking that second day became more bearable. A little disclaimer about some of the friends I was biking with on this trip; they are good mountain bikers. Like doing jumps and tricks, and are prepared with the proper gear kind of good. They had the correct gloves, knee guards, and they even had the funny biker shorts – which I most definitely made fun of but later wished I was also wearing. 

So, when one of them said that we were going to be doing a trail that is categorized as a black diamond but reassured me that the black diamonds are “not really black diamonds,” I should’ve better evaluated the source of this information before starting on this not-black-diamond black diamond trail.

It was every bit a black diamond. 

In my defense, the trail is called “Zen Trail” – zero zen whatsoever – so there were multiple factors playing into the fact that I wasn’t quite prepared mentally, physically, or materially for day two of mountain biking in St. George.  

Now, even though this wasn’t the most enjoyable trail that I have been on (and definitely the most difficult) I still had a good time. The scenery was beautiful and I was in good company, so it really wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. My bike and bottom were in a little worse shape after this weekend’s biking adventure, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So if you’re looking for some good mountain biking trails in St. George, there is a plethora to choose from. But if you need recommendations, don’t ask my friends, unless you want to hit black diamonds that are in fact categorized as black diamonds for a reason. 

And if you’re thinking, “I can ski black diamonds no problem,” it is NOT the same thing! Take my word for it.