This week I began a mountain biking class, mountain biking 101, through Singletrack Academy. I have always had a mountain bike, but truthfully I am a mountain bike poser. I thought it was time to learn how to actually ride trails…. real trails…. and add another skill to my expanding list of “things I learned after I turned 40″.
I don’t come to any sport off the couch. I have been a competitive athlete my entire life. It’s part of who I am. I have competed as a beginner and as a professional (2000-2001). I have competed all over the world. So this part of my life…. is new… the part where I am loving the thrill of learning new things. I love it more than standing on starting lines these days. I love it more than competition right now.
So I am going with it, I don’t fight it anymore. I don’t know if my competition days are over. I just know that right now this is where I am at and this is the path I am L.O.V.I.N.G.
We have a few mountain bike places nearby and this class is staged at Dryer Road in Victor. I haven’t ridden at this park in YEARS and it’s clear there is a strong community who builds and maintains these trails. I made a note to check out exactly who they are and how I might be able to get involved and contribute.
I just loved the whole VIBE of the place. Rather than checking out wheels and bikes, it was….. laid back… welcome…. what brings you to the dirt? It was a LOT like skiing.
One of my former athletes and friends Alexa was one of the assistants teaching, it was awesome to see her in this role. For years I coached her through Ironman and triathlon, and she’s been a die-hard dirt girl for the past few years. Her passion is so evident and she’s one of the big reasons I was there. I knew there was a world beyond swim-bike-run and I wanted to know more about it.
I had a few friends in the class… really just by chance… and the other ladies in the group are just plain awesome. Everyone has a different background and a reason for being there. To me that was the real beauty of this opportunity, to learn what drives others and what brings them to learn new things at this stage of our lives.
We learned bike positions, balance, how to ebb and flow with a rolly trail. My whole life on a bike I have spent trying to be as aero as possible and now my elbows and knees were out and I was leaning in all different directions!
And the pedals….. FLAT pedals. I have spent my whole life clipped in. But honestly…. the flat pedals that Alexa recommended didn’t take long to get used to. The pedals felt almost like velcro with the shoes, and after a little while it all felt the same.
The flow and the feel of the trail is what I loved most. And the laughing. We did a circuit for a bit and cheering on my fellow ladies and learning that if you look at a tree you will hit it….. that feeling…. was pure gold. I didn’t crash (yet), but the nice thing about mountain biking is that you aren’t traveling at 25 mph, and a root or a tree is a lot different than a car smashing into you at 60mph. Plus here you can wear shin and elbow guards (they are neat, click here for those), for some protection.
It’s been a really long semester, and a tough one. I finished grad school, our semester in education is winding down, and I have some neat adventures coming up. I didn’t realize the strain grad school had placed on me until it was over. I also didn’t realize everything Curt took on in order for me to earn this degree. He did it supportively and quietly, and my gratitude to him for that and for so much more is incredibly deep and incredibly strong. It’s time for both of us to relax a bit on several different levels.
This class is a graduation gift to me, and another way for me to learn something new, something different, and to make new connections. As I said my love of learning new things, of taking on new adventures, right now it’s much more fun than anything I have spent my life doing. There is a whole big world out there to keep exploring. And right now….. I am all in for exploring it.