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5 Questions with Mountain Bike Rockstars: Melanie Nystrom, MD

They aren’t famous or sponsored, but they’re people you should know about because they’re making mountain biking better for everyone, and we think they’re rad. We ask everyone five questions, then give them an open opportunity to tell us whatever else they think we need to know.

NICKNAME: Red (nickname with friends) and Super Mom (nickname with IMBA)
LOCATION: Ellicott City, MD
ROLE: Rockburn Branch Park Trail Liaison and Rockburn Skills Park Lead, member of the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts
ALTER EGO: Full-time mom and part-time trail crew leader with Howard County (MD) Recreation and Parks

1. How did you get into mountain biking?

I bought my very first mountain bike when I lived in Richmond, VA. Boy, that Bridgestone still makes me smile. I started riding the trails in Maymount Park even though there are hardly any there. It's funny to look back on that time; I used to think a 30-minute ride was so long!

2. What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve done as a mountain bike volunteer?

Hands down: getting Rockburn Skills Park built in Howard County, MD. It opened June of 2012. (IMBA note: The above photo, taken by Bob Allen, is Melanie with the sign indicating a trail at Rockburn, "Melanie's Madness," that is named after her. She truly was the primary driving force behind the project, and we admire her for it!)

3. What keeps you coming back and helping out in your free time?

There are times during the year that I feel so overwhelmed with maintaining the skills park, trying to keep riding my bike, raising my kids and just trying to find overall balance. The sticker for me is when I get great emails, videos or calls about how much fun a family had at the skills park together! Seeing kids giggling on their bikes is just amazing. Some parents do not ride a bike, but their kids do and want to experience a natural-surface trail. Rockburn provides that for both parent and child. It is so rewarding.

4. Describe your favorite bike and why you love it.

My absolute favorite bike so far is the Gary Fisher Superfly. I own two at the moment. My first Superfly has a triple chain ring and was my first 29'er, which I am crazy about. My second Superfly has a double chain ring, which I enjoy more on our trail systems. It was my present to myself for completing the Rockburn Skills Park. Always treat yourself to really good gear!

5. Tell us one of your favorite ride stories.

There are so many great times I have had in the woods! My favorite accomplishment is when I finished the Wilderness 101 in 2006. That was my very first completed 100-miler (I attempted a 100-miler while a few weeks pregnant and do not advise that!). I was so thrilled with myself. My most memorable fall was at another 100-miler: the Shenandoah Mountain 100 race in 2010. I basically did a full cartwheel while still attached to my bike down a very steep rock garden. It sucked and I still can't believe I got up and finished that race!


I would have to say that riding my bike in the woods provides me the most balance I have in my busy life. Right this very minute it is lightly snowing, and the temperature is below freezing. The trails have been un-ridable for the last few weeks due to ice and very deep, muddy snow conditions. But as soon as I finish up this email I am going to rush home, throw on a few layers of clothes and check out the trail conditions to alert the local riders. I am grinning just thinking about it.

My husband, two sons (6 and 8 years old), and I all LOVE being on our bikes, especially together. My older son and I started doing a Sunday ride for an hour in Rockburn, just the two of us. It is my favorite ride of the week. He is so proud of the skills park and that I was the lead on something so fun in our community. Hearing him giggle on the trails when a deer or squirrel runs past is absolutely priceless.

Both of our kids get it. They get what it means to see my husband and I roll out on a "date ride" and come home so happy. They get the feeling of accomplishment when they clear an obstacle at the skills park or jump off the curb in front of our house. Cycling is a life long sport and our kids are hooked. Now that makes me smile!

(Photo at right: Melanie giving a presentation at the 2013 IMBA Mid-Atlantic MTB Summit. Photo by Leslie Kehmeier.)

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