Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I'm Going To Do This.

"I want to ride down Backbone."

These were the words that Travis probably didn't want to hear. In fact, I know he didn't want to hear them! However, I had deemed it was "time" for myself to make the descent.

I told myself it was in my "5-year plan" for mountain biking...


Had I felt confident enough and brave enough to ride down a hill that had a rating of an average grade of 18% and a max grade of 22% sooner, it would've been something I could've told Dad about.

I have that on my mind a lot...everything now that I would like to share with him, I can't. I can share the experience with a keychain that has a charm filled with a few his ashes. I can be told multiple times his spirit is with me. It's all fine and good, but damnit- it can be frustrating when you are still wanting the human presence. I don't get to see the expressions or hear the change in voice as he hears how I rode down a technical and steep hill....successfully. Twice. 

I considered this trail a "Rite of Passage" as tho I wouldn't be a true Decorah mountain biker until I rode down the descent successfully. I have been able to ride up some challenging trails without fail, and I felt that more things started to "click together" with skills. What was I waiting for? I'd always have an excuse not to ride down it. There would always be "something" that would make me second guess my decision to ride down Backbone.

That needed to stop.

I was holding myself back and without a good reason. After reflecting on my past season to the present point, I came to the conclusion that I was capable of riding down this trail and what I needed to do was simply believe in my ability to do so.

McNasty was the steed of choice. We hiked up Backbone and I looked at each section that I felt was scary and diagnosed it. Let's take one chunk at a time, look at what line might be best, and realize that some of what I would ride down wasn't as scary looking as I originally thought. It's all about perspective. I didn't have huge, gnarly rocks to drop down from, not to the degree I imagined in my head.

At the top, we lowered our seat posts (we don't have droppers on our bikes). I originally was going to watch Travis ride down, but someone chose that moment to walk up the trail. Ha! We did a small loop-away and back, and I was following behind Travis. "I bet you just want to ride down, don't you?" I looked at him, thought for a second, and turned on the GoPro. "Let's do this."

I followed behind him, taking cues- going slowly and poking my way down and over rocks and small ledges. Avoiding sketchy lines, allowing my bike to go forward, not using my brakes too much, and keeping my weight back so I wouldn't be too front-heavy.
After we got past the rockiest points, I realized that I had nailed it! I was in shock! Literally, I was shaking from the adrenaline. It was awesome!

I decided it was time to do it again because I needed visual proof that I could ride down it- as in needing Travis to get a picture.

The second time wasn't a perfect descent- I didn't realize I was going down too fast, I felt my weight shift to the front and my front wheel started going off to the side. Shoot! I had to bail, and thankfully the only damage to my bike was scuffing up my bar plug. The main reason for not being able to follow through with riding down the trail was more due to speed.

"I'm going to do it until I make it one more time."

I hiked my bike up the hill, carefully placing my feet on the rocks beneath me. It's a trudge of a walk up the hill without a bike- add walking your bike up the hill and having to hoist it over rock ledges increases it. I was intent on succeeding, no matter how many more bailouts I would have to do.
I re-started the GoPro and made my way down, this time being sure to start off slower than last time. I kept my breathing steady and focused on what was in front of me. Let your wheel drop, keep the tires rolling, don't brake too much...you can do this.

Next thing I knew, I had ridden past Travis and knew that I was victorious! YES!
I wasn't shaking as much this time and decided that three times total was plenty for the day. I had done it. I rode down the trail that I never thought I could. I accomplished the goal- and did so on McNasty. I don't think I could've been happier.

It was good for me to take the leap and push myself to do something I thought beyond my level. In reality, I was at the level I needed to be in order to do it. I simply stopped telling myself I couldn't and allowed myself the opportunity to prove to myself it was possible.

At this point, I will regret not having done it sooner- but at the same time I feel like it started when

(Note: everyone that has seen the YouTube video says that it does not represent at all how steep the trail really is. That's why the MTB Project link to the trail is linked in the post. 
That is also why I kept my weight back- the grade towards the top is VERY steep.)

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