Lessons in Mountain Biking- The "Dirtiversary"

Having just made it up Gunnar, solo, for the first time.
5/30/16 (Memorial Day) is my "Dirtiversary," the day that I discovered that I would ride mountain bike trails solo. Prior to, I would go out on periodic rides with Travis, at most, twice a week- and I was starting to feel the urge to explore more. I was tired of riding the paved trail when the allure of dirt called my name- but was I brave enough to venture forth and ride on my own?

In 2014 on Memorial Day, with a full day off of work, what better way to spend it than outside? I had a choice to make. Attempt to hit up the paved trail that would surely be bombarded with foot and bike traffic, or I could attempt to hit up some of the dirt trails. Really? It was a simple choice.

Travis had been asking on our rides if I would lead and I avoided every opportunity I could. I feared  of not being able to make climbs or failing miserably in front of him. I didn't feel confident with the thought of going first. I felt slow, unstable, and didn't know where I was going or what I was doing.

I had to ride solo.
I had to ride alone.
I had to see if I could do it.

I told Travis that once I rode alone, and successfully, I would lead him on a ride.

So I text two girlfriends and let them know my plans. Just in case something happened and I got hurt and didn't make it home. You know, making sure loose ends were tied. I was also worried Travis would be too concerned over my semi-planned adventure, and I didn't want him to fret.

Tears of joy after my first
solo ride! 
I set out on my Surly Krampus for what felt like, the adventure of my lifetime.

I did the loop of trails we had been doing- I know IPT, Gunnar, and both Pines were included. I can't remember everything I did, but I did the loop up to Pines and at some point, made my way back down to IPT.

I had ridden everything I could and I'm sure there were a few parts I had to walk. At the end of the ride, I literally cried. I text my girlfriends and let them know I was successful and was thrilled to share with Travis the great feat I had taken on and overcome.

A fire was lit within me. You could say I was filled with hope, too. Everything for me felt like it had
changed in that very moment- the moment I made the decision to overcome my personal fears and take the challenge of riding off-road head on. I wanted to succeed.

I can't explain how empowered I felt! 

No longer did I have to wait for a Friday or Saturday for Travis to take me out riding. I could sneak out on my own! I could practice and session any time and anywhere I desired- and that was just the freedom I needed.

I did my best to re-introduce myself to a few areas that Travis had taken me to when we went on our first couple rides in '13. I distinctly remember going down Rocky Road and wondering when the scary parts could occur. I remember riding thru what seemed like a river, and riding up a steep hill that seemed high, and if I failed, I would fall into said river.
I rolled thru a creek. I rolled up a small hill. Done.

My mind had completely blown up whatever it was it thought it rode the year prior, good gravy! I was a bit embarrassed yet also pleased. I conquered something that had seemed impossible and discovered I had elevated fears that were not necessary. I have to say, that learning I had blown my worries and fears out of proportion on a solo ride was so much more confidence-inspiring than if I had found it out on a ride with Travis. It made me realize, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could accomplish far more than I gave myself credit for.

A "Dirtiversary" is as important and as special as you make it. For me it was a step in growing up and feeling more confident with myself. Taking life by the reigns and not letting my insecurities and worries stop me from trying something I really wanted to do (and get better at!)

Travis had little expectation that I would fall in love with mountain biking...you're talking about a woman who has extreme anxiety issues, who hates dramatic change, who isn't graceful, and who has exercise induced asthma.
I'll never say that the learning process was easy- but I will say that it was 100% completely worth it.

This is why I write about my experiences. This is why I encourage so many women either in person or online- please give mountain biking a go. I know it can be scary sometimes and I know that we all worry too much about how we look to other people. Fact is- those people who invited you out do not care about how good you may or may not be. They, like myself, simply want you to be out there and give it a shot.

Do something amazing for yourself. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Let go of the control, anxiety, and fear. Give yourself a future "Dirtiversary", and embrace your #BikeLife!