Let's go back to Friday- the day we left Decorah to make our way up to the Northwoods. I'm always excited about this drive as it's very scenic.
I love how the trees change the further you go up north; something about those pine trees resonates in my soul. I'm not sure why, but I am absolutely in love with the area. It's also an easy drive with minimal navigational requirements, and that makes it enjoyable for #TeamGreensmith to get out of town and somewhere else.
It's funny how we come from a town known for eagles, yet I get so damn excited every time I see one. For me, it's like dad is saying "Hi!" to us, and I was taking it as a good sign for the weekend.
We pulled into Hayward early afternoon and took the opportunity to figure out where to register for the Chequamegon 40 event. It took a little finagling, but we managed to get where we needed to go. The unfortunate part of Friday was the on and off again rain, plus the cooler fall-like temperatures. After getting our bags, we went out to do some exploration of the booths and socialize. I ran into Chelsea and we ran into some Decorah friends and inquired about the course. I will admit, I started to wonder if Chequamegon was really going to happen for me this year. We were told that it resembled more like last year than not. We then chatted with the folks at the Anderson's Maple Syrup booth where I procured some packets of their delicious dark maple syrup packets AND a big can of a rootbeer that had some of their maple syrup in it! From that booth, I saw Leia, and we made our way to say hi to her. Her pre-ride description had me question the idea of participating again.
I did a lot of thinking on the way back to our truck, and I then opened up a can of word vomit to Travis.
I really didn't want to see myself as a "quitter" but I did not want to put myself through something similar to what I did during 2018. I didn't have that kind of gumption in me. I've done the race in the worse possible conditions and it basically made me swear that I wouldn't do a race in conditions like that again unless I really, truly wanted to.
I knew what I would be up against. Not only challenging, muddy, and wet conditions- but knowing I would ultimately drop my chain numerous times. I did not train for this race, I did ride mountain bike trails a lot. I knew I could finish it, but I didn't care to put myself nor my bike through conditions like that again. I know my bike is an inanimate object, but McNasty is important to me and I did not desire to trash him out with sand-filled mud in every possible nook and cranny. I knew how I would feel after the fact- I would likely stay off my bike for a week and my neck and shoulder tightness would be awful. Putting forth that much effort during that distance really burns me out.
I had nothing to prove.
I came to terms with what I was saying and what it would mean.
I would DNS my first race, ever. Something I swore I'd never do.
I was rebelling against the rules I had set for myself since I started racing (If you could call it that...) and said "Yes" to doing me.
"Let's go mountain biking instead!"
Travis was all for that. (As I knew he would be.)
Before I continue on, let me say how grateful I am that Travis didn't really care what we decided to do so long as I was happy. He didn't say anything negative about my not wanting to race, even tho I had signed us up for it months ago. He knew it was a big decision for me. I knew it was a big decision for me. It was the right one.
After the discussion of our plans, we decided to visit the two bike shops in town. New Moon Cycle and Ski and it was a neat looking shop with a small cabin-like vibe. We didn't get the opportunity to talk to many folks there since it was busy, but I was super stoked to find a Camelbak pack that will be absolutely perfect for our Arizona trip and any other larger trips we have in store! I was thrilled with the size, storage, and soft-lined pocket that was a perfect size for my phone! The color was perfect, too! (Purple accents anyone?)
Riverbrook Cycle and Ski which had an entirely different look both outside and in. This shop was located in a historic looking brick building and it had two full stories to work with. It's fun as a bike shop owner to see how other shops are laid out, what they have for inventory, how it's labeled, displayed, etc. Travis chatted at length with Cindy, one of the owners, who was completely awesome. So open and candid, I shared with her a little about Fearless Women of Dirt and being a fellow woman in the industry. I got a pair of cute sunglasses that were far more casual than my regular biking glasses and some of their special coffee blend. (The bag smells amazing and I hate that I have to wait to grind those beans!)
Let me tell you, I felt high on frickn' life.
We went over to the grocery store near the little motel we stay at to see what they had for some fun beer. After finding some options, we went to officially check in to our room to unpack. Not long after, we went to Angler's Bar and Grill for supper. I took a photo of my strawberry margarita and a funny picture on the wall but neglected to take a picture of my prime rib sandwich. (It was very good, and since I get prime rib maybe once a year, I was very happy.) I had also tried to take a picture of a stuffed badger looking kinda bug-eyed, but it didn't work out too well. (sad face.)
We went to bed late and we didn't care! We weren't getting up at 4:30 in the morning to be ready to go place bikes. I even turned off my 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. alarms! Talk about luxury.
We woke up to my 7 a.m. alarm and had a lazy morning of watching a little bit of the Today Show. Once we were good and ready, we got dressed and headed over to the Norske Nook next to our motel and I had this amazing lefse wrap filled to the brim with sausage, eggs, and cheese. It was topped with hollandaise sauce and it was absolutely divine. I ate like 98% of it. #sorrynotsorry
Namakagon Cluster. We went to the Namakagon Town Hall trailhead and rode our way on the Namakagon trail over to the Rock Lake trailhead and continued on Rock Lake so I could finally ride down Wall Street, and eventually made our way back to the Namakagon trail via Patsy Lake. It was over 20 miles of a mix of intermediate to advanced riding with several mini victories along the way for me. It's amazing to know I was on Rock Lake in 2017 and would have been scared sh*tless to ride some of the stuff I rode at that point. It really helped me to put into perspective how I've grown as a rider.
Specialized Mimic Saddle definitely helped me out a lot!
We came back to town at a weird time, which was way past lunchtime, but too early for supper. My breakfast had kept me satiated all day! I absolutely loved how I was able to go through a day of riding and not feel hungry because of my breakfast. (Reading the F*ck It Diet.)
We killed some time at the grocery store and came back to the motel room to order pizza from Frankie's Pizza. My request was to have mushrooms on one half of it for myself- otherwise, I didn't care how simple or exotic it was. I don't consider myself a pizza connoisseur, but I did enjoy it. It was similar to our local pizza (Mabe's) but had in my opinion, a slightly thicker crust (yeah!) The mushrooms were big, too, and had a great texture. I have no complaints and would order it again. We relaxed, watched some Disney movies on t.v. (hooray!) and eventually went to bed.
Sunday morning we got up, I'll say somewhat reluctantly (I was reluctant...I wanted to sleep...damnit.) We got dressed and went to Hayward Family Restaraunt for breakfast where I had a delicious eggs benedict. I love eggs benedict and I won't apologize for my ordering it as often as I can. I have a hollandaise sauce addiction. (This breakfast would power me through a bunch of riding and our trip home. Can I say again how I love not feeling hungry all day?)
Borah Epic a few years back and hoped to get Travis to it at some point.) This meant driving to the OO trailhead to ride Seeley Pass to Flow Mama and back. Thankfully after the rain, the trails weren't bad and no worse than anything I've ridden here in Decorah conditions-wise (which I was grateful for!)
On our trip home, we decided that we would seek out a different adventure option for 2020 rather than returning to Hayward to continue on our Bike Life Adventures, a new series that I plan to start that will showcase our trips and the rides we go on. They might be few and far between, but I find this to be an extremely worthwhile route to go. I'll highlight the communities we visit as well as the trails- so I'm looking for recommendations on where YOU like to ride!
The biggest lesson I learned this year at Chequamegon was to be true to myself and find my happyness. Do what makes my heart and soul happy and excited, take care of my emotional well-being, and enjoy life to the fullest. Sometimes that means saying no to something in order to say yes to what will really make it worthwhile.