MOUNTAIN BIKING: Kristin Edwards has ridden some of the best mountain bike trails in America but she can't help singing the praises of what's on offer in Rockhampton.
"I'd really like readers to appreciate what great mountain bike trails we have at Mount Archer,” she said when talking to The Morning Bulletin.
"I've raced in the Rocky Mountains and across eastern America and the trails in Rockhampton are comparable.
"They're amazing; they are so well designed and cater to all levels of riders.
"Everyone should know that we have a real gem right in our back yard.”
Kristin was among the riders who took part in the women's skills clinics hosted by the Rockhampton Mountain Bike Club with Mountain Bike Australia at the weekend.
The clinics at First Turkey were conducted by MTBA accredited coach Peter Lister from Mackay.
Kristin signed up for the clinic because she saw an opportunity to learn something new.
An accomplished rider - she competed on the national stage in America - she had not been as involved in mountain biking since she and her family came to Rockhampton five years ago.
They made the move to Central Queensland when Kristin's husband Mark took up a senior position at the Rockhampton Hospital.
"We came to Rocky on a one-year Queensland Health contract; my husband and I thought it would be a great adventure for the kids to expand their world perspective,” Kristin said.
"We packed up our house, put everything in our garage and locked the door. We shipped our bikes, but left everything else.
"The first year was a blur and there was still so much to do and see so we stayed. After two years, the kids were well connected at Rockhampton Grammar and didn't want to leave.
"Here we are five years later, and there's still so much to do. We still have our stuff in the garage. It will be there when we need it down the track.”
Kristin follows the Rockhampton Mountain Bike Club on Facebook and when she read about the weekend clinics she registered because she "had nothing to lose”.
"I thought that even if it was just one tiny thing I could take away with me it would be worth it.
"I was truly blown away with what Peter brought. He was able to demonstrate and communicate in such a clear way and he was very encouraging and he's a remarkable rider himself.
"There were women from Emerald, Yeppoon and Gladstone so clearly mountain biking is drawing interest from all over.
"There's just so much potential and it's really quite exciting.”
Kristin hails from Colorado and raced mountain bikes for 20 years. She said mountain biking was part of the culture in many American ski towns - people downhill ski in the winter and go mountain biking in the summer.
She was a devotee to the sport, and was riding six days a week at the height of her involvement there.
But the move to Rockhampton gave rise to different interests and Kristin, Mark and children Karis and Jonathan became invested in rowing.
She explains that it was her son who revived her interest in mountain biking.
"We had heard about the trails in Rockhampton but it was Jonathan who was really keen on riding.
"He loves going out and he always asks me to go with him so he's the one who's really got me back into it.
"For the last six months, we've probably been riding two or three times a week.
"The biggest difference is the altitude - a lot of the big trails in America are at about 9000ft so that's the most noticeable thing as well as the heat.”
Kristin plans to join the Rocky club next year and get back into racing.
"I like the physical challenge of mountain biking. It clears my head and it's something that I can do with my family,” she said.
"The trails here are fun and they're beautiful. I tell everybody I know to come and try them.”
And as for the clinic, Kristin was keen to share what she learned.
"The key in mountain biking is it's dynamic; you can't just sit and pedal. That's the gem I took away - you've got to get off your seat and move with the bike.”