Soul Soother

Two fawns in the Van Peenen pines
I came up with an idea the other day and told Travis that I should perhaps borrow one of the shop's rental bikes that would be sized similarly to my Trek Cali Carbon SLX. Get me on a bike that will have a similar fit (women's specific) rather than going from a monster truck (Surly Krampus) to a smaller, zippier bike.
That concept is intimidating! With the bigger tires I have been able to ride some terrain a bit more confidently and not have to worry so much about lines

(Still want to pick good ones, but roots won't wipe me out as easily with 3+inch tires vs. standard sized width.)

I rode to IPT feeling alright on the bike, however I opted to try the rock garden (again) after having almost 100% success yesterday. Not so much on this day.
I had a bunch of oddities on this ride that frustrated me, but a lot of it was due to the simple fact: IT'S NOT MY BIKE!

I found myself being critical of my shortcomings on this ride. Not used to smaller tires, the seat was different, I hated the pedals (not grippy enough for me), and I was not used to the shock. I couldn't figure out what I wanted...did I want the shock to move more than not? Did I want to lock it out? Damn, this seat sucks. UGH! My foot would loose grip on the pedal way too easily which would cause me to slip up. 
Issues over getting over some roots, rocks, and figuring out how to maneuver myself on a bike that wasn't slightly too large for me. 

Honestly it's like clothing shopping. If the first few moments suck, I hate it. I wanted Bruno. I was having a hard time accomplishing stuff that I normally didn't have to try so hard at. I had a hard time figuring out why.

Sure, some things were a little easier-I was able to feel a bit more fluidly around some turns, the hairpin turn on North 40 was fluid and beautiful. These didn't balance out all of the so-called negatives I had been experiencing on a bike that I was almost too afraid to ride.
I was having "new bike syndrome" when you either get a brand new bike of your own and it's like a new car-you worry until you get your first scratch. This time the new bike is a shop rental that I am not wanting to destroy-so it's just as bad as riding my carbon fiber masterpiece.

Top of Middle Pali downhill
See the line?
My disappointing ride was just the icing on the cake, the rest of the day proved to be not quite as expected and the evening became worse. Not only did I feel my mountain bike skills were questionable, now I was questioning myself on other things. I was feeling very, very low. 

I had a good morning text from Travis today and decided..."Okay, let's try this Jett again." 
I headed to IPT but did a U-turn and headed up to Palisades. I felt like I was ready to try the trails up there on my own. Also I knew they didn't have a lot of hard climbs and such, so I hoped that I could work on loosening my grip a bit. (It appears that I'm developing carpel tunnel issues in my left arm...which was another blow to me.)

The ride up the road was uneventful and I was glad to not run into any cars. I decided I'd ride Upper Pali to Lee's Loop, turn around and ride Lee's back to Upper and then ride down Middle and Lower. Upper Pali is beautiful, fun, swoopy, and such a great trail. Middle Pali was a trail that caused me much grief and only until after my ride with Travis on Tuesday, did I (finally) feel comfortable enough to ride it solo. 
Now that I could "see the line" I felt more confident and sure of myself. Relief filled my chest as I made the corner and down over the roots/rocks. All on my own!
Lower Pali is nice as well-but for whatever reason the downhill turn freaked me out. The first time I road down it I was freaked and the last time I road down it-I had been nervous as well. Suddenly I was down around the turn and riding along, finding myself completely mesmerized by my feelings.

I let go of my fear. I put faith in my abilities on a bike that isn't my own and I rode down these trails that gave me such emotional turmoil. I'm a good rider. I'm skilled enough to accomplish these trails on a bike that isn't a "monster truck" and I can enjoy the ride on more than one mountain bike. 

Big root to ride over on Middle Pali
be watchful of smaller root in front!
I felt lifted. My soul felt soothed a bit by this ride. Simple trails, easy flow, and all I had to do was pedal.

I went to IPT, North 40, up Gunnar, and rode through the pines. From there I went to Fred's and had a beautiful hairpin turn down the sketchy hill-this bike isn't terrible. I don't want this bike, but I can enjoy a ride on this bike. I would make a lot of changes, tho, if it were my bike.

The Luge was the way I wanted to end, hauling down the trail invigorates my soul and let's me feel (for a moment) like I'm participating in some sort of mountain bike race. It's one trail where I've learned to gradually "let go" and let myself go fast! The feeling of speed, letting my bike move under my body, and the adrenaline rush that comes from the feeling of a successful ride. Yes....this was a good ride.