The Invite

(Written around November 1st)
An invite to ride with another woman is something that I get excited about, but at the same time nerves creep up. Diane and I had talked a couple times of going for a mountain bike ride together, and each time I felt anxious over the idea. However, this is not to say I avoided the invite, but timing (initially) was not on our side. Particularly with a schedule change on my end that decreased my availability.

After seeing a comment from Diane on my Dig In post I emailed her to see what mornings worked best for ride. We decided on a Thursday a.m. and I’d meet her near River Trail for our start.

I was anxious the night before. The thing for me is I become very self-aware and self-conscious over my so-called “flaws” one of which is the fact I have exercise induced asthma. This means that depending on how hard I push myself and the weather conditions (cold/dry, hot/humid) I might have to take more breaks. My lung capacity struggles to achieve “normalcy” and I feel sheepish over potentially showing my “weakness.”

I also become concerned over my riding as I really do not want to disappoint someone on their first ride with me. I know that most all mountain bike riders know that “everyone starts somewhere” but that doesn’t mean I have insta-confidence. The typical thoughts come to surface and the main two would be “Will I be slow?” and “Will I have a bad riding day?
I readied myself Thursday morning with an almost-full cup of coffee and a healthy dose of “I’ll do fine.

The weather has started to turn to the cooler side of fall and I struggled with myself to feel confident that I would be layered sufficiently. Getting ready is not as much fun when you have to think about layers, how many, and what.

I made my way to River Trail and told myself to lighten up on my expectations. Everyone has said how nice Diane is, and how many times have I been told by others and herself that she’d like to ride with me? Not only that, it’s not an unknown I’m a first year rider-so why am I being so silly?
We started off on our ride and explored the new section of River Trail, then made our way to the Van Peenen trails I’m familiar with. So far I was happy with the job I was doing, the climbs I made, and that breaks were fine.

It was a fun experience for me, a morning ride not planned from my own knowledge of trails. Also? Following behind someone isn’t always bad, either. I found myself pushing my body and capabilities in a healthy way, something that doesn’t always happen with the rides I typically go on. We eventually made our way to the Dunnings trails and rode a portion of those. I could feel my energy was starting to deplete and hunger was setting in. Pretty amazing! It was getting a little tough to keep my lungs from getting overexerted, but I didn’t see it as a bad thing. I felt calm and happy.

We went down Boa and rode back to River Trail. After some conversation and a hug, I made my way back through River Trail vs. taking the road back. Amazingly I still had enough energy to make a climb that I was unsure about, and soon I was on my way over the bridge and back home. Hot coffee and a shower were so welcome, and I was very thankful for having gone on a ride with Diane.

It was a positive experience in which both of us had nerves over, which made us laugh, as we both had pre-ride jitters the night before. It seems that it is true, mountain bikers are some of the most easy-going and kind people you can meet. Oh, I’m sure there are some that may not really fit that category, but so far I’ve found my experiences on the trails with men and women to be much more positive than I initially thought they would be.

So…what have I come away with on this ride?
A bit more confidence. More understanding that all riders are human and do not always ride perfectly, and that is okay.
Everyone does start somewhere- offer to take a newer rider out on a trail ride. Basically return the favor that was given to you, if you learned from experienced riders. It’s highly unlikely that either of you will regret it!