Imagine Northeast Iowa

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Lessons in Mountain Biking: Testing Yourself
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Lessons in Mountain Biking: Testing Yourself

I left the house with hope and the idea of challenging myself. I figured the mountain bike trails would be a little slimy but not completely water-soaked and easily rutted. I was sure that I would do alright because I’ve ridden on some slimy trails before, however today was going to be a mental and emotional challenge.

I started on IPT as usual, getting into my groove when I completely wiped out on the rock that I always ride over any other time. Bam! I hit my forearm and added some more bruises to my body. I sat up feeling somewhat shocked over what just happened. Really? That just happened? The rock was wet and I suspect when my tire hit the rock I was thrown off balance and my tire slipped out from under me. When you approach a wet object you cannot hit it at an angle (root, tree, rock) you should hit it straight on. Otherwise it catches your tire and you slip out.

I got up and inspected my bike, nothing seemed very amiss but I soon discovered I needed to adjust my brake lever for it had been knocked downward. (Just recently Travis noted I had bent my shifters, they are still functional but I cannot multi-shift down now. Oops!) I kept rolling and felt a bit anxious over the whole experience. I decided that I might feel better if I tackle the downhill on North 40, which usually always proves to be a confidence booster for me. I still felt a bit “eh” after that and thought “Well, today will be a day to push myself.

I went up Gunnar and made my way to the entrance of Rocky Road so I could go onto Fred’s. Why I chose to ride Fred’s today I have no idea. I found sections tricky to maneuver, my confidence was shaky, and I felt like I had gone a bit above and beyond my skill level. I came to the start of the steep descent and struggled, eventually tipping over to the right (which is not into the side of the hill) and getting tangled up in my bike. “How smart!” Feeling a bit ridiculous I found a way to slither myself out from the confines of my Krampus.

I decided that I was not going to walk down the hill, no way, no how. I managed to take the corner just fine and sneak my way down the hillside. At the bottom of Fred’s I unloaded a bucket of tears. I’m not entirely sure which emotion they were to indicate; nervousness, anxiety, frustration, perhaps a whole combination of them plus extra. Either way, I felt better afterwards tho I was still a bit shaky; emotionally and mentally I had tried to crack myself open rather than let my fear take over.

My ride on the Luge was not awesome and I decided at the end of it that I needed to go back to IPT and ride over the rock I had wiped out on. I managed to ride over most of it, but stalled out a once my front tire was over. Frankly I didn’t care, it counted that I didn’t wipe out again and that was all that mattered. I rode the rest of IPT and rode it back as well. Normally riding IPT makes me feel joyful but today it was more of a reminder that I really can ride, but I chose to ride in tricky conditions. A reminder that regardless of my confidence and comfort level on a trail, it doesn’t mean every ride will be the same.

I do not regret challenging myself above my skill level; I realized I would be doing so before even taking the ride on. Was I humbled? Yeah, you bet. Will it deter me from riding any of the trails again? Nope. Not a chance.

More about mountain, challenge, wet, slimy, bike

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