All About Pep Talks and Bullheadedness

(Written September 18th)

Sometimes you find that you end up in situations that make you feel particularly vulnerable. My ride with Travis started out pretty standard; however we took a pair of Specialized Fatboy bikes out rather than our own bikes. Not that it’s a huge deal, but there are some differences with bike handling on a fatbike vs. my Krampus or Cali Carbon SLX. 

The length of the handlebars, how the bike wants to keep going straight (due to the larger tires, delayed steering), and that I had to squat or sit while climbing hills as I would lose traction if I stood up.

At one point I was feeling pretty comfortable while we were riding the trails around Baker Village. Next thing I know I’ve wiped out. No real injures, however I was stunned; I guess I can’t “rip” when the trails are still a little slimy. Oops.

We continued on and made our way down Ice Cave road. Travis suddenly had a light bulb appear above his head. Okay, not literally, but you get the idea. “Let’s try something different!” which resulted in crossing the road to ride up an almost-hidden trail called Rattlesnake. I’ve ridden down this trail before, farther up will be a section filled with larger rocks. However, to get to that area you have to ride up a steep hill riddled with rocks and roots. I did not enter the trail with enough momentum the first time, which is primarily what you need in order to get up the hill. I was also nervous at first, because it was unexpected. I wasn’t ready for it, I couldn’t remember from my ride down how it all looked and what I would have to ride over. I stalled.

I will fast forward; because there is only so much one can write about in terms of how many times it took for me to actually make it up that darn hill. One tip-over closer to the top brought me to the brink of my boiling point. I was feeling an assortment of different emotions and all of them were based around embarrassment, frustration, nervousness, and worry.

Travis had meant for this to be a “quick” thing, and encouraged me to just keep going. After I got over my initial fear of the unknown, the bullheaded streak in me came out full-force. I was going to ride up that hill. We would not leave this spot until I found my way to make it past the obstacles in my way. I wasn’t going to quit.

The bigger thing that I came away with was the acknowledgement and understanding that the majority of my emotional stress was due to feeling embarrassed. I had the opportunity to ride with Travis the past two weeks and had done really well. Now you have me struggling to make it up a hill that he felt I could ride. Not only was I fumbling but I also fell in front of him; I felt so unsure of myself in these moments. I was shaking, holding back tears, and trying to calm my rising temper. Unlike the other times where I struggle alone and get to a point where I want to throw my bike (but never do), this time I was with Travis and got a hug.

This is not to say I wasn’t pep-talked and pretty much told that going into this with a negative attitude wouldn’t help me at all. Great words of advice do not mean it’s any easier to take and apply.
I can’t tell you how long we worked the area, probably over a half-hour at least. We had positioned ourselves up the road so we could gain a good amount of downhill momentum. Travis looked at me and asked “Do you think you can make it?” and I said “I think so.”

Next thing I know, I’m riding up the hill and making it past the spot that my tire kept getting hung up on. I had made it to the top! Finally, success!
We continued up Rattlesnake until you came to the lower-half of Backbone. We walked up the hill and got onto Lower Randy’s and made our down so we could take the Luge and go up to the Van Peenen trails I enjoy riding.

Overall, it was a great ride even tho I did feel stress over riding something “new”…I appreciated the fact that I had Travis with me, to pep-talk and give me the encouragement I needed. I surely tried his patience, but we both had some realizations as well. Even tho I’m a better rider now than I was months ago, doesn’t mean that I’m not done learning or struggling with new things. It’s nice to know that when my patience runs out that Travis does have the ability to help me work through it (without me throwing my bike or having some other sort of temper tantrum.)

In the end I was able to let go of my embarrassment and simply accept that I had to let that self-shame go. 
Travis wasn’t judging me and thinking any less of me or how much I have accomplished, rather he pushes the boundaries I set and shows me how to use my determination to work to my benefit. 
Travis has helped me overcome a lot with my riding, it’s not always easy, but I’m glad he does it.