Over the past two years, biking has really taken on a new role in my life. My family has always had a passion for biking. When we were kids, my parents would take us everywhere on bikes. We would bike to and from school, to swim team practice, to get ice cream, and to just about anywhere. As we grew up, my brother and sister started mountain biking and would compete in the shorter races while my parents competed. It was never my thing. I was the kid who crashed in the parking lot at the race (not joking).
I never thought mountain biking was for me. But one day, my mom begged me to go as a mother’s day present to her. My dad gave me the oldest bike in the garage, I wore sneakers instead of clipless peddles for good reason, and off we went. I was petrified before going, but was pleasantly surprised and fell in love. I begged my family to take me a few weekends later. In the last mile, I had my first crash when I clipped a tree with my handlebars and flew over my handlebars. It was the best lesson for me in that moment because I was OK. I got right back on and kept going, and I wasn’t afraid to keep going. My parents unfortunately put the kabash on me riding with my impending bike trip across the United States and didn’t want me to get really hurt.
When I got back from trip in August, I really wanted to keep riding. I entered in a twenty-mile bike race and was really pumped. I was borrowing my dad’s bike that I really loved and felt comfortable riding. My dad and brother’s race started an hour before mine, and once they left I started to get really nervous. My dad ended up slicing his tired within the first half mile. He was walking back to the truck as I was heading to my start. My dad ended up changing his tire and he came to ride my race with me. I never would have finished without him.
I started OK until we entered the woods. My nerves took over and I lost my confidence to ride with a bunch of riders behind me. Slowly, everyone began to pass me, and I took a huge hit to my pride. I fell a bunch of times. I even managed to fall going uphill, twice. This race lit a fire within me. I never wanted to feel so nervous or out of control when riding. My dad and brother started taking me to ride more often and in many different parks so I could see more obstacles.
Now, almost two years later, I am a completely different rider. I ride logs and rocks with much more confidence (I still have a ton of room for improvement in this department). I lean my bike into the turn and trust that my tire treads are going to engage. Now, I am no professional, but the improvement I see in myself is drastic. This year, I have set myself some goals that I am excited to reach for.
Finish the Shenandoah 100 // This is a super crazy 100 miler mountain bike race in the mountains, and it is my end goal for the bike season. My races throughout the year are going to lead me up to this one race.
Take a skills class // My brother and Dad tell me all the right things for how to get over logs and rocks and how to descend sketchy sections. I repeat them in my head as I approach, but I seem to blank when I am actually doing it. Taking a skills class will really help me to gain a new outlook on how to get through these technical sections.
Make it Through Garret’s Pass // This is a section of Patapsco State Park that is full of logs. I can get over many of them, but I stop at some. My goal for the end of the year is to make it over all of them!
Take My Dog Biking More // This is less for me and more for her. She likes to go, sort of. I need to get her in better shape that she really can go for longer rides. She likes to be outside and explore, and I think she would enjoy it more if she got used to it. The longest I have taken her is for 6 miles, but we had to stop in many creeks to cool her off.
Compete in the Marathon NUE Races // This is a series of 50-60 mile races across the country. I would love to compete in at least four so I would get a rank. It would help me to ride in new places and meet other riders. Mountain bike riders are the nicest people!