Video: How Mountain Biking Helped Contribute to One Woman's Mental Health

Jan 17, 2020 at 7:24
by Vitus Bikes  

Meet Amanda: mountain biker, veterinary nurse, and Wolfpack Adventure YouTube Vlogger. Amanda has been living the two-wheeled lifestyle for 4 years, travelling around the world with her boyfriend Alex and trail dog Kai, chasing the dream of mountain biking and van life.

"People often shy away from sharing their stories. Maybe because they’re too raw. Too painful. Or maybe they’re convinced the story’s not over yet. I was hesitant about sharing my story. But I found the courage to share it - you never know who it might help!

I wanted to make this video and build my dream ‘unicorn’ bike to share with people how mountain biking has helped shape my life and given me the mental strength I didn’t know I had. The strength to be ‘me’ ... and to express what I’d probably look like in bike-form."

“Everybody has probably experienced some kind of mental struggle at some point or another. The mountain biking community helped me believe in myself and grow my self-worth.”

The Unicorn...

The Vitus Sommet standing proud with mental cues on the top tube.

Box Prime 9 Drivetrain: Keeping things simple and an awesome custom 9Point8 Fall Line Dropper Post - Wolf paw for the win!

TRP G-Spec brakes paired with 4-pot TRP pistons provide the stopping power to bring the stallion to a graceful-stop

The newly designed female-specific WTB saddle and WTB Hand-Grippers paired with A Lovely 9Point8 Dropper Lever

Fat Creations, the man behind the amazing Unicorn paint-job! Nukeproof Horizon components to finish off the bike

Thanks to all the amazing brands that helped support this project, including:
Vitus Bikes
TRP Cycling
Box Components
9Point8 Components

Video Credit: Jim Topliss & Unieed Creative

Check out the Wolfpack Adventures YouTube Channel here


  • 48 2
 I understand how mountain bikes help with mental health my bike helps me with my mental health to just the freedom and being yourself so nice i love storys like this
  • 20 8
 til a new standard introduced right after you purchased a new one.
  • 28 3
 @chyu: the trick is to not care
  • 12 3
 @chyu: why does that bother you? If you are buying a bike for resale, you are doing it wrong. You bike will function precisely as it did the day before and the day after a 'new standard' comes out. Even with that, you can still find components for 135mm bikes, 26" (tires, rims and even good used forks out there) and new 10-speed drivetrains.
  • 3 1
 @chyu: love this humor
  • 3 2
 @bman33 @dirtyburger: That what she said.
  • 2 0
 On the flip side it drives me mad !
  • 2 1
 @bman33: but for how long? To push millions of 26" wheels and tires into the rubbish dump just because 1.5" larger diameter made you go a bit faster is unacceptable from a eco perspective.

In no way was it a innovation, so it was just wasteful
  • 1 0
 @nordland071285: not a single person said all that has to go to the garbage dump. Ride them until I fall apart. there plenty of 26-inch bikes that got worn into the ground prior to the new wheel sizes. You argument doesn't make sense. I'm sure a horse and buggy manufacturer said the same thing when cars came out. Standards change Sometimes for the good, sometimes bad. Only constant is chang.
  • 1 0
 @nordland071285: pardon the grammar/spelling above. Using mobile
  • 2 1

I work in a landfill. Rarely see any bikes. The scrappers take them to be recycled. Your method of thinking is flawed and ignorant.
  • 37 2
 Mtb definitely helps with mental health. I haven't been on the bike as much the past couple of years for various reasons, from not having time to shit weather and just being plain lazy. I have absolutely noticed a change in my mental state over this time compared to when I was riding more often. This year my goal is just to get out for at least one ride every week and try to get back to the feeling I had a year or two ago.
  • 7 0
 Same here as well! About twelve years ago I bottomed out from depression and dropped out of college. As a way to get exercise, start being around people in limited doses, and focus on something besides being sad and self critical I started biking and building trail. I was able to eventually go back and finish school but changes in my life have made riding more difficult, also about two years ago. The drop in saddle time has been proportional to my happiness, and this year my plan is to get back into doing something that I love and has paid immeasurable dividends. Stay strong and ride hard!
  • 3 0
 crack on, I strongly advocate to ride daily in my area which is pretty flat, but i made around 35 trails and or trail options close to the inner city with permission of the landlord, it took me 2 years and also got to be my training ground for enduro races that are always quite harsh. I feel like trails do way more than just train people, I feel like trails can also motivate people to go out if the lines become more obvious the track can become that much more fun if you get to see the different options and styles that are required to reach those options. after all, what also makes me want to ride daily is also building trails.
  • 24 1
 I logged onto Pinkbike to sell a bike- my profile is Wickerhorse. Its just a POS road bike Roubaix and I need the cash.
Mtn biking has helped keep my mind clear over the years, and I've met the best people in the cycling culture. Thank you for telling your story of teenage adjustment framed in the words "mental illness." This can only help our culture empathize with this issue, like dipping your toe the water, or maybe more like dipping your toe in a raging river, just so you can get an idea of what the terrors begin to feel like, just so your normal culture can begin to understand without freaking out if ---> you --- are faced with the seriousness, or --> you-- begin to experience challenges like schizophrenic nightmares, Bipolar madness, and traumatic brain injury that tears your identity from your broken memories.

Like what happened to me when I was an 11 year old tomboy with a thrift store Huffy and a Kmart skateboard, and my dad stayed in bed a few days and I sat by his bed in a chair not knowing what to say. He never spoke with me but that was normal for a troublemaking girl skateboarding in the house, taking his tools and stealing lumber to build a tree fort with the boys. He never told me he loved me because he didn't know how either.
He left later that day, then the police arrived to say he took his own life in a cheap motel. My mom told me I had to identify his body in the morgue. I eventually ended up in a foster home, and couldn't afford college so I enlisted in the military. The only thing I accomplished was my head hitting a dashboard at 40 mph and a skull fracture, and since it was a closed head injury and my brain wasn't oozing out my ears, they diagnosed a "concussion." When it became soon apparent that I had lost my identity and my emotions went extreme, they didn't make the connection with the stitches running halfway across my forehead, and put me in a mental hospital for 8 months, experimenting with every psychological medication in the books, but none of them worked.

One day, a gang of medics burst into the locked double doors wrestling one young sailor into the quiet room. I had a chance to talk with him while we were watching tv a few days later- I asked him what's wrong? He said, "everyone's an alien." I thought, that must be terrifying for him, so I said, "they might as well be" and he felt better after that because he didnt have to feel alone. They couldn't fix me though, so the doctors said it was all my fault and they discharged me with no benefits, no job skills, and a broken brain, at 19 years old.

What would you do when you're down to only $20 in your pocket with all that up there, couch surfing somewhere in East LA, no family to return home to, trying to figure out where to sleep without prostituting yourself. If I slept with a friend, does that count? If I slept with four in a year, was I a slut? If I married someone for the medical insurance when welfare didn't consider ear surgery an emergency, am I a gold-digger? The experiences I saw my friends in the women's shelter go through still make me tremble in the shower, crying for their children and hoping they are ok, 30 years later. My daughters showed me everything about love I couldn't teach them.

It took the VA 17 years to approve my pension, and finally received treatment for PTSD, and seizure medications to tame a damaged Executive function from a Right Orbital Rim fracture that partially disconnected the pituitary gland from the hypothalamus. The pension pays me to take care of myself, the first thing I bought was four mtn bikes for me, my two daughters, and my husband, who promptly took half of my settlement and left me. If the money was all he wanted me for, then good riddance, but I wish divorce could have been that easy.
I found a steel Lemond on consignment, and found myself meeting the best people in the cycling culture, and training to race kept my head together. Later I rode from San Francisco to LA with a cycling program called R2R that gives bikes to veterans, adapting them for amputees. It didn't matter to them that I wasn't injured in battle or what my injuries were, they accepted me as a veteran simply because I volunteered just like them, so I could finally let go of the shame. They are called Project Hero now, I think.
How many times have I wondered if I could rewind back to that chair next to my dad's bed, what would I say?
Just please, don't go. Daughters need their dad and no one has to be perfect.

Thank you for stepping up and representing people like me in a positive light that most people can accept.
  • 5 0
 @wickerhorse Thank you for writing that
  • 3 0
 @taprider: life is good
  • 4 0
 Thanks so much for taking the time - and emotional effort - to share. As the father of two daughters and a son thanks for the reminder of how important it is to be real with our struggles (age appropriate obs.) and real with our love.
  • 2 0
 Awesome story, Wickerhorse. Thank you for sharing it. Just when I start to think that humans are all just Primates.....
  • 1 0
 Thanks for your story, take care.
  • 22 1
 Going out & digging in new lines helps too!
  • 15 0
 It's a nice portrait. Sometimes it's good to watch a mtb video without a rider making wheelings every 5 sec and sending huge drops.
  • 3 1
 IKR that shit is so boring now. Unless its a Semenuk vid...
  • 7 0
 I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, depression and PTSD in early 2017. I use cycling as an escape. I had to justify to my work that cycling allows me to switch off from my own thoughts and concentrate on what is directly ahead of me anf also the fact that regular exercise releases endorphins which assist with ones mental state. This was all working great intil late 2017, where I suffered a fall while racing BMX and since then, I have had less than a dozen ride days. The injury I sustained in the 2017 crash has been the catalyst for a whole raft of issues for me. Breaking my radius in 2 places (wrist and elbow) and also doing damage to my shoulder saw me struggle to get back to bike fitness, but after over a year of continuef issues, I decided to go in for a reassessment ob my injuries. What has resulted is more time off the bike, with surgery to my forearm and also my shoulder. This past 8 months has been very difficult, and the next 10 month will be harder still. One more surgery to go to remove the plate from my forearm and I should be able to start riding again. For now, its just one day per week on the cycle paths at a moderately slow pace.
  • 1 0
 You got this - I believe in you. Smile
  • 12 1
 That paintjob is dope!!
  • 4 0
 Cool vid. As for my puny 2 cents worth of opinion, bike lust only starts when I’m offf the bike and on my laptop. As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, I realised that one of the best remedy is just plain riding itself, on any bike (a bike that fits...of course), on any terrain, be it tarmac, loam....skateparks even. No earpieces, no music, just the sound of brakes squealing, leaves rustling underneath, tires tearing against gravel, asphalt. Tires digging into loam. Heavy breathing, huffing and puffing. Leaning into turns, power pedalling off corners, nose bonking off curbs, catching a bit of air off fallen branches. Sometimes I only became aware of how outdated my “27.5” was when pulling into the trailhead carpark and seeing others on their 29” tractors......
  • 5 0
 A bike, your dog and an open space is about as good as it gets for mental health imho. Gives you time to be free, think and enjoy.
  • 7 0
 Nice video, MTB has also help me a lot with my anxiety!
  • 4 0
 This video hits very close to home. Thanks for sharing and that's an amazing bike. Mountain biking is so good for your mind, body, and soul. Can't wait for all this snow to melt. The trainer is not the same.
  • 3 0
 Soul riders. It’s real and it runs deep. Mtb riding didn’t start with me till late in life. It pulled me out of the deepest darkest place I’ve ever been. What struck me most about riding is that when you’re out on the trail all your emotional problems issues or whatever’s niggling you simply disappears. Like magic. Helps you put things in perspective. Keep riding and things just get better. It’s true. Even after being injured I simply can’t wait to heal up so I can ride again. Mountain biking truly is the path to health. More actual academic studies need to be done on the effects of this activity on our minds and bodies.
  • 3 0
 Man....I mean Woman. Amanda, this almost brought a tear to my eye. I don't know you but I am so happy for you. I know exactly where you're coming from. You are inspiration incarnate. I sincerely hope you stay positive and can continue to see past the bullshit in life. Ride that unicorn, girl, all the way to the rainbow.
  • 5 0
 Really inspiring and thanks for sharing this. On the light side of things, she has a dire Wolf as a canin, wow
  • 2 15
flag hrv (Jan 18, 2020 at 12:07) (Below Threshold)
 Help the well being of Palestina and stop bombing it...
  • 5 1
 @hrv: Gives back the land to the NZ natives if you’re going to start playing that game.
  • 4 10
flag hrv (Jan 18, 2020 at 14:45) (Below Threshold)
 @fatduke: I wish it too, but in Aotearoa New Zealand no one is bombing anyone... No body is bombing kids here.
  • 4 0
 I tore my patellar tendon and then went certifiably crazy suicidal. I hope to ride again one day but it is at least 2 years away if things go well.
  • 2 1
 Damn that sucks! keep at it and good things will come! I broke my talus bone in my ankle and it resulted in not being able to walk for 3 months and not being able to ride for another 3 after that! I just got back on the bike a month ago and it's been hard dealing with not being able to ride at the level I was at prior to the crash, but all that matters is that you're out on a bike having fun. Because that is why we all ride bikes at the end of the day! keep your head up and keep on shredding!!
  • 1 0
 Mind if I asked how you did that? Im kind of assuming it was from riding?
  • 2 0
whistler mountain bike park on a hardtail
  • 2 0
 Great life story, good for you for working through it all and telling your tale so openly, glad you found the best 2 things, bikes & dogs, to help with life’s struggles!
  • 3 0
 This is so inspiring to me, I absolutely love this. Cycling has changed my life in so many ways. It helps me cope with my mental health struggles every day.
  • 1 0
 Great respect ,and yes bike is liberating,just cause you don’t have to give anybody a fu#k anything,it might seem strange but it just so strange that you are almost another person ,a person that you who’re once or the one you wish you are most of the time but you could not be because you have to play a role in your life ,and that it’s just hard ,cause life might seem easy but it is not ,for some it is but for the most ,f*ck it’s always like ,c’on more of this shit again
  • 1 0
 Great story...glad Amanda was able to get past her mental health issues! I always feel more centered and at peace during and after a bike ride, a ski day, or just a nice hike in the woods. Physical exercise stimulates your body and mind on a daily basis and that lets us escape from our stressors and problems. When I am 100% focused on the next pedal stroke, the next turn, or the next step on the trail I am in the moment. Not thinking about anything else except riding, skiing, or hiking....allows me to achieve that zen everyone is always searching for. If you do not exercise regularly you will likely struggle with depression of some kind at some point in your life. I feel even better when I share these activities with a partner (human or animal) it multiplies the results, The Brain needs the body and vice versa....or some thing like that.
  • 6 2
 That bike has a very nice paintjob.
  • 4 6
 I chose a Norco range framset over a sommet. Don't know why. Ah wait sommet came with full sram drivetrain. Bummer
  • 4 0
 AL frame, threaded BB, no thanks. *Insert sarcasm here* Beautiful bike!
  • 2 0
 MTB is actually a kind of active meditation... Specially going down where your mind has to shut down and focus 100% on the present moment... CARPE DIEM!
  • 3 0
 What kind of wolf is Kai? Great video
  • 4 0
 Thank you for sharing.
  • 3 0
 I'm always a happier person after getting a ride in.
  • 3 0
 Biking is good for my soul
  • 2 0
 Great courage Amanda. Thank you for putting in the effort to tell your story with such honesty and clarity.
  • 2 0
 Now that's a cool paint job!
  • 2 0
 This video gave me chills. So inspiring and beautiful!
  • 2 0
 There is nothing female-specific about that saddle. It's a wide Silverado.
  • 2 0
 Yes! You go girl! Thanks for sharing your story.
  • 1 0
 My bike is named Prozac!!! Oddly enough Santa Cruz made the chameleon the same color green as prozac
  • 2 0
 Bikes, dogs and a healthy mind. Fucking Rad. great story.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate and super happy to have found mountain biking! Cheers
  • 1 0
 Nice video! Mountain Biking and being up in the hills with my dogs, wife, and friends is my church——
  • 1 0
 Off topic: What are those hubs?
  • 1 0
 The wheelset is a Nukeproof - WTB collab, I think it's called horizon too. The hub sounds great, looks great, has good engagement, the wheels are pretty strong (but you gotta tighten the spokes every once in a while) and it's not very expensive either. I totally recommend it!
  • 2 0
 Thanks for sharing
  • 1 0
 Thanks for your story Amanda.
  • 1 0
 Very cool
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