For most people, mountain biking is a graduation from traditional cycling: a mark of skill and endurance. But my first experience of bicycling came on the edge of a steep, unsealed Blue Mountain road on my step brother's mountain bike.
When I climbed to my shaky feet, however, I found that I had not only walked away with a split lip, grazed leg and the beginnings of a concussion, but also with an earnest desire to learn how to cycle.
After that baptism-by-fire, whenever I felt the yen to go cycling, I stuck to the safety of Centennial Park and my quiet neighbourhood streets rather than braving the rough terrain of off-road cycling.
According to Bicycling Australia, Sydney is Australia's most cycling hostile city, so the aspiring mountain biker may have to travel in order to indulge in their hobby.
Anyone willing to travel to the scene of my first, less-than-triumphant mountain bike experience will find that the Blue Mountains has some exceptional trails. For a novice, Anvil Rock and Gross Point are the most appropriate. For more experienced (or at least fitter) riders, Mt York, St Helenas, Six Foot Track and McMahons Lookout may be more appropriate.
Regardless of your choice of company, trail, and traumatic childhood experiences, mountain biking represents not only an exceptional work-out, but also the chance to appreciate the unique flora of NSW.