How I got into Mountain Biking

Nicole Burton, May 2012

Someone once asked me how I got ‘into’ mountain biking?

Being traditionally a male dominated sport it wasn’t something that came easy. For me though, exercise has always been something that I love and cycling especially. Therefore, when I got to combine both it was a new adventure.

This story begins approximately 9 years ago. Back then, I had recently joined the Navy and had moved to Darwin as my first posting. I was young, single and didn’t have a car. Therefore, when my bike arrived in my removals a few weeks later I was very excited. My first mountain bike was an Avanti and before now, the only cycling I’d done was on the road.


Enter this bloke called Jamie. I met him one day at work and we got talking about cycling, he asked whether I wanted to do a mountain bike ride on a Sunday afternoon with a bunch of other blokes? Without knowing what I was really getting myself into, there I was with my bike riding to Charles Darwin National Park. I remember having to stop at the old Bunning’s on Snell Street to ask for directions!

As it turns out Jamie wasn’t able to make the ride that day but being a nice bloke arranged for the others to look after me. Back then, Aaron, Martin and Steve helped me out, waited for me and even gave me some tips. I can honestly say that, for my first MTB ride, Charles Darwin N.P. was an experience I’ll never forget.


A couple of rides later in Lee Point and Howard Springs, I found myself having heaps of fun. I met heaps of new people in Darwin, and like Jill, learnt a completely new language. By March 2004, I went one-step further and entered my first mountain bike race, an endurance event run over 5 days called the Central Australian Bike Challenge (CABC) in Alice Springs. Of course, now it’s called the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro, run by Rapid Ascent and is held annually in May.

Since I started riding in November 2002, I’ve owned several bikes. I still have my GT Avalanche and Ellsworth Truth (my Mercedes Benz of MTB Bikes); however, my Specialized Stump-jumper retired in 2007. Due to being in the Defence Force (I’m in the Air Force now), I’ve moved around Australia a fair bit. As a result, I’ve ridden tracks in NSW, Tasmania and Queensland but I consider the ones in Western Australia to be my favourite. I’ve competed in several races, done Alice Springs 4 times now, and have recently become the treasurer for the Darwin Off-Road Cyclists (DORC). Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a DORC!


In the end, I guess you can stay that I kind of fell in mountain biking because my husband (Jamie) did it. It’s very different to any cycling I did before and takes a lot of patience to get better. If you’re new to this sport or just want to meet many friendly people, come along to the DORC social rides and races that we’re holding throughout the year. Maybe you’ll discover that you love mountain biking just as I do because ultimately it’s the only way to discover Australia’s hidden places.


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