Still learning

For as many years as I’ve been biking, I’ve struggled to keep up. Nick and I started mountain biking together in 2003, and while I picked up quickly on the technical side of the sport, I was slow.  Nick was fast and just got faster. In fact, everyone I knew got faster, while I stayed at the back of the pack. Eventually I just started thinking of myself as the anchor and set out to ride in the back.

I made moderate improvements along the way – but still I was walking hills, at the back of the pack, constantly frustrated.  Over time, my rides got shorter and what little endurance I had, slowly disappeared.

Group rides became less fun for everyone.

In 2010, I lost some weight over the winter and decided to start running. It was spring and Nick was starting to train for Lumberjack, and I wanted an exercise alternative to dirt-road-slogfests.  Running offered the change of scenery I needed, and the cross training made me a tiny bit stronger on the bike.   The next winter-into-spring, I trained for a half marathon. That is when running gave me a change in perspective.

I had a ‘light bulb moment’ when driving home from a long run one day. I’d never riden a bike for much more than an hour without stopping. Sure, I’d done longer rides, but with lots of rest stops.  That day, though, I’d run for 2+ hours without ever slowing to a walk – let alone stopping. That was a turning point for me (this is where my husband rolls his eyes in the ‘I tried to tell you this for years’ sort of way) – because I realized that I was the only thing holding myself back from being a better biker.  Sure, I still needed to improve my physical strength, but I had to really improve my mental strength if I actually wanted results.  Running taught me that I can endure far more physically than I’d thought possible.

So I started pushing myself harder on the bike. I have been learning to not just endure, but embrace the pain and suffering that comes with pushing hard. The payoff is huge.  I am often still at the back of the pack, but becoming less of an anchor.

I’m still not good at it – pushing myself. But there are a few rides I’ve done over the past  year or so, that I consider “defining” rides. Personal accomplishments on these rides fueled me mentally to keep pushing harder.

(I hope to write about these in more detail soon)

Ore to Shore 2011, with Kristi

Barry Roubaix 2012

Vasa Singletrack – July 2012, with Nick

CRPT – Riverbends – Stony – October 2012, with Nick and Steve

The last ride on this list, CRPT – Riverbends – Stony, was completely unplanned and unexpected.  I pushed myself harder than I ever have and still can’t believe what I did that day.  Its what inspired me to start writing again.

Stay tuned ..

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