I started mountain biking 6 weeks ago. While I do have a background as a road and cyclocross racer, mountain biking is a mostly new medium to me. The whole "riding over obstacles" thing has been a (very fun and challenging) learning process.
In 6 weeks, I have ridden Fruita twice, Salida, Grand Junction, and Hartman's in Gunnison numerous times, not to mention the Contour and Signal Peak Trails out my back door. I have taken a women's clinic, ridden on my own most of the time and chased much faster riders down the trails. Each time I ride, I feel a little bit more confident, a little less nervous, and little more relaxed.
These past weeks, mountain biking has become a way for me to de-compress from the stresses of moving to a new town, to listen to my favorite NPR podcasts with no interruption, and to focus on one small obstacle at a time. While I record all of my rides on my Garmin, I don't really care if I am going 4 miles an hour or 12. And really, given my inexperience on singletrack, I don't know what a "good" time is. Nor do I really care right now. I am more interested in clearing that one obstacle I walked last time but just knew I could come back and conquer. Or stopping to see the magnificent view I have yet to tire of. Or reminding myself of those very basic but oh so important bike skills of higher cadence and efficient pedal stroke.
I have fallen in love with my mountain bike. I love where it takes me. I love how much it challenges me. I love that I can ride the same trail one week later and be a very different rider.
This weekend was a breakthrough of sorts. My parents were in town and so I rode early Saturday morning with Kirsten. We were pretty evenly matched- I am faster on the uphills but she is more competent on the technical portions. At this point in my cycling career, I have given up worrying if someone is faster or better than me (I never ever say "I'm sorry" for slowing people down. If you want to go faster and stop waiting for me, then GO. I will see you at the end. We will eat pizza.) but still. It is a rare treat to ride with someone who is A. a fun person and B. perfectly matched. I tried obstacles I wanted to try-sometimes pleasantly surprising myself, and I didn't try obstacles I didn't have the head for. In between, Kirsten and I talked, laughed and enjoyed the scenery, the weather, the company.
And then there was today. Today was a big day. Not only because Hazel took off to Disneyland with her grandparents, leaving us with ONE (ONE!) child for the week (OMG ONE CHILD IS SOOOOO FREAKING EASY) but also because Brian and I hired a babysitter so we could ride some singletrack together for once. We chose the Aberdeen Loop at Hartman's because we would never do it alone. And also? We are dumb. Because the loop is pretty long and because the weather was kind of insane. Like, thunder and lightening insane. We found ourselves facing down four different lightening storms complete with sleet and ZERO shelter while riding today. I also found myself riding through slick trails, wet sand, starvation, exhaustion, and cold temps and you know what? I ROCKED THAT THING. Okay, so I walked some. But overall, I have zero regrets on my riding skills. My decision skills, YES. But my riding skills, no. AND I rode the longest I ever have on a mountain bike: 22 miles. I know. 22 miles for a roadie is like a snack with 10 calories in it. But 22 miles on a mountain bike with 2700 feet of climbing in a thunderstorm is LEGIT.
At least for me. So don't argue.
I am tired. I am happy. I have a very dirty bike (damn storms). And tomorrow I will hop on my road bike for a recovery spin with Anna. But I will be thinking of singletrack and thunder and views to the end of the earth and chasing speedy Brian down the trail.
Welcome to Hartman's. Where you meet a friend at every trail intersection. Here, Kirsten has a morning convo on top of the world.
What I ride when I'm not on my mountain bike, road bike, cross bike or cruiser: My minivan. (my parents shot this during the weekend)
SO SO HAPPY MY PARENTS CAME TO VISIT!
The Aberdeen Loop. Nowhere to hide. Better start riding.
Riding. I should probably go faster.
Hey look! A brief moment of sun!
We are either delirious or really freaked out.
Oh, you know. Just posing with my bike. What storm?