Mountain biking: Trip to San Tan Mountains with Schinness got me hooked

Adam "O.J." SchinnessThis is the first in a three-part series on mountain biking. Today is a report on my introduction to the sport with standout skier/mountain biker/outdoor adventurer Adam “O.J.” Schinness.

During the winter months many people train indoors on an exercise bike. Recumbent, upright and spinner bikes are great ways to build up your endurance and muscles.
Now that the weather is nice, lots of people take their biking outside.
Road bikes are the most popular ride, but if you’re willing to get a little adventurous and want an added thrill then give a mountain bike a try.
On a vacation to Arizona last week I had the pleasure of being taken on a mountain bike adventure in the San Tan Mountain Preserve led by guide Adam “O.J.” Schinness.
A longtime skier and mountain biker, Schinness took our group on an intermediate level course that provided quite a thrill. I had only previously rode on flat road and rails to trails courses, along with a few basic mountain bikes as a kid long ago.
I managed to squeeze in a couple more mountain bike rides after riding with Schinness and must say I’m hooked. It’s a great way to cross train, while also enjoying the sun, scenery and up-and-down thrills of a mountain bike.
Schinness has mountain-biked throughout the U.S., especially Arizona and Colorado. He’s also rode in Australia and New Zealand.
I asked Schinness what he likes the most about the sport.
“I’m a skier and I really got into (mountain biking) to rehab my knees after skiing all winter,” said the 36-year-old Schinness, a Chardon, Ohio, native who’s a manager in the health-care field. “There are a lot of similarities to skiing and that’s probably what I love most about the sport.
“They’re individual sports where you always have room to grow. You’ll never get too good.”
Schinness proved that during the day we rode with him. At one point on the trail, my brother, Bryan, challenged him to try to ride a trail branch to the top of one of the San Tan peaks.
The 1/4-mile, all up-hill switchback trail was plenty steep and despite his best efforts Schinness had to get off the bike and push a couple times. When he got to the top he was barely visible, he took a couple pictures with my camera he was carrying and then proceeded to ride back down in impressive speed for such a descent.
“That was a pretty tough trail,” Schinness said with a smile. “It was a rush to ride it, especially on the way down.”
Although I wasn’t about to ride up the expert part of the trail, nor could I have, I took on the rest of the course and had my adrenaline on full-go during many twists and turns through the hills and rocks.
Riding a top-quality mountain bike with front and back shocks that I’d rented, we rode for over and hour under the hot Arizona sun. Afterward I was glad to take a break after a unique workout I’d gladly do again and again.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at