Katrina was a blast to ride with and it was truly inspiring to watch this woman tackle her fears. When we reached IPT she asked if she should lead or if I wanted to. I can't tell you how stoked I was to hear the option. I told Katrina it would be fabulous if she led because then I knew without a doubt, I'd be riding at her pace and comfort level.
From first-hand experience, it's nice to have someone ride behind to observe techniques. You can make note if the new rider is getting up off the seat when they need to, when they aren't keeping their feet level on the pedals, etc. When you're in front of them you have no way of knowing what they are or aren't doing. As a new rider, I had found myself messing up more when I followed Travis too closely. I wouldn't see something coming up that I needed to burst over, I couldn't see ahead, I would only be seeing Travis. Having a new rider go first also helps them with learning how to navigate the local trails. You get more familiar with the surroundings and directions and you get to see first-hand what is coming up.
Katrina is such an inspiring woman- she took up riding off road more frequently and even purchased a new mountain bike this year so she could have a better experience riding with her son.
What a cool mom!
Monday came around and I had thrown out that I was going to be riding that afternoon for my birthday. Gunnar, a phenomenal rider joined us for the afternoon. He has ridden for years and I view him as a local legend. When you hear that he has paid you a compliment about how well you had done during Time Trials, you darn well better feel flattered!
I was playing all of the worrisome comments in my head that perhaps people play when they think about riding with me. (Replace "She" with "He") "She's so fast, I won't be able to keep up, I'm not a good rider, What if I mess up? What if I can't make something? Will she think less of me?"
I'm not sure if those are thoughts folks have when they think about riding with me- but those were thoughts I wondered when it came to riding with Gunnar and when it comes to riding with anyone whom I deem a higher skill level.
Thoughts that need not be thought.
The ride was great! Sure, I did almost wipe out a couple times because I took corners too sharp, but that didn't stop me from riding a steady clip. I also went out of my usual route and made up a ride that had only one double back. I made myself string up trails differently, I made climbs I wondered if I would make, and I rode as well as I could- really only having to put a foot down once to save myself from eating dirt.
Guess what? Gunnar had a fun time.
Gunnar rides by himself almost all the time.
I ride by MYSELF almost all the time.
I had a wonderful time!
We both appreciated having company, and he appreciated doing something different than the usual set of trails. I found myself thinking outside my box and whipping up a ride that was different from my usual set of trails, thus giving me ideas for some future group rides!
When it was all said and done, I had the highest average on my Procaliber to date! I was excited about because I've found that Watson, the Procal, is somewhat of a hard bike to ride. By hard I mean- I don't have plus-sized tires nor full suspension...it's a bike that really tests my technical handling skills- to do what I did for my ride that day...super awesome! It was also a treat to go home and share a birthday beer with Gunnar. It was one of the times where I came away kind of feeling like a rock star.
So what did I learn?
A reminder that we may all, at times, have insecurities with riding with someone who is above our skill level. Riding with Gunnar was such a positive experience- there was no judgement, rather appreciation for company and being able to enjoy mountain biking on a beautiful day.
He (and Travis) are (in my mind) superior riders to me, but that doesn't mean that they enjoy the ride any less because I led it.
It's inspiring to watch people overcome their own worries and insecurities out on the trails. It reminds me that I, too, have goals yet to accomplish- and maybe we can reach them together!