The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, and the reality that I signed up for this Saturdays “Something Wicked - Six Hours at Cathedral Pines" 6-hour endurance mountain bike race bears down on me.
This past Sunday I went out with my friend, Mike, who has been kind enough to “show me the ropes” and introduce me to some of the mountain bike trails around here. We also went out with a Team SixCycle member, Tom. As we started out on the trails (and I was still close enough to the boys and still able to breathe), Tom began asking me when I got into mountain biking and how long I’d done it for…which got me thinking.
First, I reminisced about the EPIC 4th of July week that my teammate, Danielle, and I spent in Sun Valley, ID at Reba’s Ride Camp. It was there that I learned how to ride a mountain bike from the best mountain bike rider in the world, Rebecca Rusch, and her crew of shreddin’ ladies. Somehow, in less than one week they turned DK and I into semi-adequate riders…or at least enough to survive the Marathon MTB National Championships — and by some miracle PODIUM!
When I came back from Idaho I was determined to keep riding. Without anyone to take me out riding (or a mountain bike of my own), I borrowed a bike and entered a few races — I mean, at least the course would be taped off and if I got hurt there would be ambulances right?! Better than going out by myself and getting lost or hurt! The two races I did ended up not going too badly (I actually won them both! Hah…a testament to the training that I received from The Queen of Pain).
Being a pretty short chick, I went in search of the perfect mountain bike to add to my arsenal of steeds. I was told by so many that a 29’er for my short 5’2 body would never work. But, the ladies at Specialized seemed to have scoffed at this notion and have made a Small (15”) 29’er Hardtail — the Specialized Fate. Once I hopped on this baby, I was sold. It rode like a dream, and I was determined to get one of my own.
This bike has been literally indestructible — especially considering the inexperience of its rider (i.e. ME!). It’s hit into trees, been endo-ed, and slid off rocks…and all the while it doesn’t have a scratch on it and shifts like a dream. It’s been such a joy to ride that I find myself — a self-described ‘roadie’ who never thought about riding off-road — being torn on which bike to ride on the weekends. It’s such a blast to ride, and honestly I think makes me a better rider (on the road and off). I’m able to carve through the turns (as best I know how), jump over obstacles, and accelerate up the short and punchy hills that are so typical of riding around NYC.
My riding buddies…Weiss and Galvan. Without them, I’d never have learned where to go, what to ride, or have as much fun as I’ve had!
A few weeks ago, I heard about a few other fellow female riders that were purchasing mountain bikes…so I asked one of them if she’d like to out riding. I remember how scared I was to go out solo, and it wasn’t until someone took me under their wing and introduced me to the scene that I was able to find the trails and ride — so I wanted to ‘spread the love.’ We headed out north of the city to a place called Graham Hills. Graham Hills was the first place I ever rode a mountain bike. My friend, Paul Weiss, took me there 2 days before I left for Idaho in July as a ‘primer’ to my trip. Now, here I was, 4 months later, on these same trails. This time I had a 29’er, and not a small 26’er bike, but regardless I headed out to these same trails…these trails that to me, just four months prior, felt IMPOSSIBLE…and I absolutely SHREDDED it! Now, if you are a good mountain biker…you probably wouldn’t call what I did ‘shredding’…but, for me…it was shredding. I rode over every log obstacle…conquered climbing every hill…ALL the stuff that i couldn’t ride 4 months before. I tell you…there is no better sense of accomplishment in the world than what I felt that day on the bike. Don’t worry though…I managed to fall pretty good a few times and get the requisite shin bruises and scars, but nothing could have taken away the way I felt that day, and the way I felt about myself. It was such a fun day to not only see how far I’d come from when I started, but to be out on the trail with someone other than the dudes…I look forward to more ladies getting themselves bikes so that I have more people to head out with!
People always say that the bike can “change your life” and that true…but it has also changed the way I look at myself. For the first time since I started mountain biking, I actually looked at myself and recognized the ‘transformation’ that had happened and was happening. I was indeed getting better (even if I didn’t want to give myself the credit), and I am able to accomplish a whole lot more than I thought. How cool is that?!
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m a ‘roadie’ for sure, but mountain biking taught me how to have fun on my bike again. No expectations. Just free-wheeling happiness as I fly through the woods and hop over logs, and grin from ear to ear. This Saturday…after 6+ hours of riding at Cathedral Pines for the “Something Wicked” race, I may not be smiling ear to ear the entire time, but I will be when I cross that finish line, no matter what place I come in, and I am so thankful to all of the people (from Weiss, to Galvan, to Rebecca, to Specialized Women) who gave me the opportunity to get out in the woods and ride — I’m ready to return the favor.
A sunny Saturday was spent on my @iamspecialized Amira with my ladies…and Sunday was spent shredding the trails on my @specializedwmn #Fate with the boys! There was some rain and mud today, but it didn’t dampen the ride! So fun gettin’ dirty on the bike! Now on to my first 6-hour MTB race — Something Wicked at Cathedral Pines. Here’s to hoping I survive…
Enjoyed a beautiful November Saturday with my lovely teamies, complete with an @gypsydonut stop! #ilovefall #teamridesaturday
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