Saturday, September 6, 2008


I once read a sign at the top of a chair lift, in the mountains, while snowboarding that said "Do something everyday that scares you." As I hopped off the chairlift and headed down the steep mountainside those words echoed through my head. I kind of liked the little quote. There is something to be said for doing something that scares you and SURVIVING! I have thought of those words several times while trying to keep up with Marty on our snowboards, but until today, I had never really considered them in the smmer! I usually spend the summer running (not scary,) and riding, usually not scary.... to me. This summer, though, Marty and I were inspired by Aim, Nic, Shane and Troy to try mountain biking. Nic and Troy have been over to our place a few times after biking in Bragg Creek and they always looked like they'd had so much fun. We spend a long weekend in Colorado with Aim and Shane and they took us mountain biking in Golden. They are amazing bikers, they made climbing huge hills look effortless and speeding down hills look frightless. They lent Marty and I top of the line Yeti bikes and we did our best to keep up with them. I, personally felt like the fat kid in a race. I suffered on those uphills and rode the brakes all the way down every decline. I couldn't keep up at all and I could feel my heart working to capacity. Sure, the altitude is different there, but Marty wasn't having the same troubles as I had run 3 half marathons this summer and I didn't have the lungs or legs to ride with these guys! Man, no wonder they are in such great shape, biking is HARD!!!!!
The other thing that is hard about biking, is the seat! Damn, did our butts hurt after that ride. Neither Marty nor I had padded bike shorts, we were naive in thinking that we didn't need them! We were definately convinced after that ride that we needed them. We both bought official bike shorts. The spandex ones with the padding in the crotch and ass area. Just to confirm what you are thinking, it does feel like you are wearing a diaper and to someone new to bike shorts, they are extremely awkward and uncomfortable. To me it feels like I have a maxi pad in my shorts. I hate that feeling, infact, I switched to tampons to avoid that sweaty, mushy feeling in my shorts, but I hate having tender butt bones more, so I sport the spandex maxi pads while biking. Everyone says "you'll get used to it." I will let you know if I ever do.
Marty bought a bike from Shane and the weekend after it arrived we took it and my old Rocky Mountain, front suspension bike to Kananaskis for our first Canadian off road ride. We took a trail that was supposed to be for beginners and within the first 2 minutes I was scared! I had never ridden over roots like the ones I was bouncing over. I had never pedaled up such steep dirt hills, I had never walked a bike down so many hills and I had never carried my bike across so many creeks! I actually loved the challenge of the roots and the rocks and even the uphills, but the downhills scared me to death! That mantra, that quote "do something every day that scares you) crept back into my head and I repeated it over and over for the entire 10km ride. By the time we made it to the village of Kananaskis I was more than ready for the beer we had waiting for us at the pub!
Today, Marty and I went to Canmore for our second Canadian off road ride. This time, we found ourselves on an extemely technical trail, a trail that required way more skill and guts than I had! It had rained yesterday and a little this morning so the trail was slick, which made it challenging to begin with. Roots, I learned are slippery and tricky, they grab your back tire and make it spin out throwing your bike off balance. I am not sure if this "spinning tire" thing is a problem if you are going fast, but at the speed I travel over roots, it is dangerous! The trail was narrow, trees hugged my knuckles on my handlebars and all of the downhills included turns! I am definately not ready to turn while going is awfully hard to turn with my brakes on! I admit, I walked my bike...a lot. I walked halfway up several hills, but walked it down almost all of them. I walked my bike when the trail was too rocky and the trees were too tight. If you hit a rock and take a bounce the wrong way on a narrow trail you will smash into a least that is what my mind kept telling me. Every once in a while I 'd take a bad bounce and would find myself off the trail in the soft moss, destroying the environment, contributing to erosion and feeling bad about that but not being physically able to steer my bike in the proper direction. That happened more than once, my bike would start going in a direction I had not consciously told it to go, and I couldn't make it turn. I'd be heading for a tree or the edge of a steep bank and I'd say to myself "turn, just turn the bike, turn..." but I couldn't! I'd have to put my feet down and walk my bike back onto the path. I have more luck controlling a two year old horse! I was being brave though and trying my hardest to keep up to Marty, who, bless his heart would wait for me at all sketchy areas and yell words of encouragement to me. Though he is also a beginner, he is one of those guys who is just naturally good at all sports. Sometimes I'd get going and think I was doing pretty good and then, I'd get to the top of a hill and I'd just lose my nerve. I'd have to get off and walk, just to get my courage back. I am not joking, I was scared for almost the whole ride! Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? Being scared, is mentally and physically exhausting! Being exhausted makes you make mistakes though and that is how I ended up crashing! I watched Marty go down a fairly long, loosely graveled hill, across a bridge and up most of the other side (he sometimes had to walk half way up hills too, I think that happens a lot when you are just learning.) I figured that since it flattened out at the bottom that I could probably try to ride this hill. I leaned way back like my sister had taught me, I pulled both brakes on and headed down hill. I was starting to feel brave, starting to consider letting the brakes off a little when the gravel grabbed my bike and started making it skid sideways down the hill. I was skidding now, and my brakes were not stopping me. I panicked and through my feet down, but somehow, doing that made me release the brakes. My bike was now skidding sideways, my feet straddling it, running Flintstone style to keep up with it. The whole thing was ugly and could only end with a crash. I wasn't hurt, but I had scared myself and all the frustration and fright I'd been trying to suppress the whole ride erupted in tears. Damn, I hate crying and not even having blood to show for it. Marty was awesome about the whole thing. He suggested that we get out of the bush and go the last 10 minutes on the gravel ROAD bsck to the parking lot. He insisted that he was exhausted too and ready for a break, but I am sure he was just saying that to make me feel better. He is a good man! He loved the whole ride, especially the downhill parts. He agreed that it was a little too technical for both our skills, but we did it and we learned a lot. Marty learned how to manipulate and handle his amazing new Yeti bike and I learned that "granny gear" is my favorite and that in the bush like that, I don't need any other gears! Once we got back to the van, I realized how scared I'd been and how alive that made me feel. I love that feeling (love it mostly when I am done doing the thing that scared me, knowing that I survived it!)
Go ahead, try something today that scares you!

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