While we all had to start somewhere, I think that along the way, many of us who mountain bike have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. Remember when a fallen branch across the trail the size of a #2 pencil caused that huge lump in your throat? Or when tiny smooth creek crossings and pebble-sized rock gardens looked like the jaws of death? On the other hand, remember when riding was all about just getting outside and feeling like a kid again, with no worries about whether or not you were keeping your heart rate pegged or who could drop everyone else on the ride?
Maybe it's just because, having started riding so late in life, my memories of those very first timid rides are still vividly fresh, but I love riding with beginners. I love still BEING a beginner, even after nearly 8 years. There is nothing so rewarding as taking someone out on their very first mountain bike ride, watching them transform from a hesitant, wobbly first-timer to that exhilarated, reborn child with a smile that encompasses three time zones as they emerge victorious from the trail, riding confidently over that fallen branch. Their excitement is so contagious. If you haven't done so, I urge you to go on a ride with a newbie. Let them lead. Ride at their pace, and look at the trail through their eyes. Let yourself become a beginner once more, and fall in love with mountain biking all over again.