Dylan Renn explains the choices of routes to Shannon, Andrew and Catherine. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Bend your elbows, look in the direction you are turning, soft hands, heels down, ratchet the pedals.

It was as though I had not been riding a bike for the last 50 years.

I’ve been on plenty of dirt trails in Lake Tahoe, have even taken two downhill clinics at Northstar ski resort in Truckee  Still, I knew there had to be more to this sport than what I was able to piecemeal from friends and self-exploration. That’s what led me to an all-day clinic the last day of April.

With every sport there is a right and wrong way to do things. I was overwhelmed with how much I had to learn. Now I need to practice.

Dylan Renn of A Singletrack Mind starts the day with a basic inspection of each bike. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Coach Dylan Renn was patient with the four of us. It helped we were all at about the same ability level. Renn owns Truckee-based A Singletrack Mind. Fortunately for us, he travels. This was great for learning the nuances (hardpack dirt, lava beds, golf ball size rock piles) of my new home terrain in Chico. (That weekend he did a two-day clinic for advanced riders; all participants were from the Bay Area, while our foursome was Chico residents.)

Renn dispensed individualized instruction and tips to the group. We learned by watching each other and riding. So much of it was how our bodies should be positioned based on the terrain and what we are doing—cornering, tight turns, riding over rocks–uphill and downhill.

After spending a good deal of time on flatland in the grass figuring out the basics, the last part of the afternoon was on the trails in Bidwell Park. We were pedaling over terrain that prior to the clinic would have seemed off limits. What a thrill.

Renn encouraged us to practice, but more important to make sure we are having fun anytime we are on our bikes. Already it’s more pleasurable. I just need to get out there more so I don’t lose what I was taught.

Shannon, from left, Andrew and Catherine get instruction from Dylan Renn. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

But I also need to go shopping.

I had no idea longer shorts should soon be in my wardrobe. Short ones were getting hung up on the saddle. New pedals and shoes should also be ordered. Oh, and just like changing tires on a vehicle, bike tires wear out too. It’s actually kind of embarrassing how outdated everything I have is. Well, the helmet is new as of last year.

While I’m a believer equipment is important, I tend to hang onto things well beyond their intended lifespan—be it vehicles, skis, tennis rackets, and certainly bicycles. Despite my propensity to keep gear for decades, I know how much better my performance is with upgraded models of whatever the item is.

It’s time for a new mountain bike. That was obvious with this clinic. Just how the frame is designed has me doing things “incorrectly.” Renn was sweet by calling it vintage; my word is antique. It was new in the mid-1990s.

Unfortunately, bikes are hard to get because of the pandemic; parts were not being made, more people were getting on two wheels to get outside. Maybe I can find a used bike, or demo a few. Once I get my new wheels, the excuses for my performance will have to change; or maybe by then I will actually feel like I know how to ride a bike.



  • Find A Singletrack Mind online.
  • Based in Truckee, but will travel to do clinics.
  • Phone/text: 209.662.5392
  • Email: amy@asingletrackmind.com

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