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Hooked on Mountain Biking

No, not via foot clips. I'm not ready to be clipped to my pedals. Apparently, shocks, wrist pads, sleek biker wear and other cool upgrades flew past me while my mountain bike collected dust.

I mountain biked on off-pavement trails with friends and saw other groups on the trail doing the same. It's been years since I've been on a bike or off-road trekked. In talking to one of my trail pals about biking tours, biking trips, and the mountain biking world (he's much more advanced than I am), I realized this is a whole new world of exploring for me. I've biked before, but not like this.

Of course, like usual, I'm late. I got into Pearl Jam after the grunge era had died, so it's no surprise that I'm "discovering" the joys of off-road mountain biking long after most others have. It's never too late to tackle a new adventure, right?

Weaving through trees on a trail of soil, bare roots, and other forms of earth, my rigid bike frame left my wrists a wee bit jarred this weekend. But the thrill of zipping around corners, splattering mud, and enjoying this with good friends was exhilarating. I'm hooked.

Here are ideas for mountain biking travel with groups:

1. Mix camping and mountain biking. Mountain biking is a great way to justify sitting by the fire or campsite the remainder of the vacation. Plus, camping already brings you to the great outdoors; might as well pedal through more of it.

2. Family reunions are great for visiting with family, eating way too much potato salad, and sometimes can be daunting. Perhaps organize a group of adventure-minded family members together to rent bikes for a few hours.

3. Plan a mountain biking excursion with friends. Gas prices keep rising. You can road trip to an area then keep exploring (without the petroleum price tag) by bike.

4. Book an escorted bike tour through Tuscany, the French countryside, or anywhere else with gentle slopes, lush scenery, and flavorful food when stopping for breaks.

5. Join a mountain biking club such as Washington-based Backcountry Bicycle Trail Club to meet others that share your passion for pedal power, puddle jumping, hill climbing (ahem, or pushing your bike up steeper hills, like I do), and go on group biking adventures this summer.

Sound like fun but a hassle to plan and organize? TripHub can help simplify the trip planning process by giving you tools to organize RSVPs, money matters, and ability to discuss hotel room options, for example.

I'd love to hear of any other mountain biking clubs or quality tours (or any other ways to incorporate mountain biking into a vacation). What did I miss?

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