Thursday, September 12, 2019

Finding My Happily Ever After

The days leading up to Chequamegon MTB Festival had me feeling a bit mixed. My emotions were all over the place and I couldn't really put a finger on why. I was missing my dad as well as missing Travis. This year has been (overall) pretty good with my being able to get out and ride, but I did not have quite as many rides with other folks like I had hoped. I also had less time with Travis this year than last- primarily because he and I spend multiple hours away from the shop working on getting my dad's place cleaned up. This year it's been logging extra hours at the shop to keep caught up. Working together is better than nothing, but it's definitely not the same as having actual quality time together.

Really, I keep myself entertained plenty with solo rides, walks, reading, and sometimes riding with friends- but I was reaching a point where I was starting to feel lonely. That frustrated me as I didn't feel like I had a reason to.

The more I looked at the forecast leading up to the Chequamegon weekend the more apprehensive I began to feel. Rain, rain, and more rain. I started to mentally prepare myself for a muddy ride several days early. In 2018 I experienced a very muddy course that exhausted me not only physically, but emotionally. Was I ready to go through something like that again? Not entirely sure, but I am one to not quit once I've signed up for something. I did the race during a year that changed me and hurt me, only to feel how utterly human I was. It was a painful experience in multiple ways, mostly because I couldn't share the experience with my dad. This year, I've ridden a bit more, but I feel like I'm still recovering from 2018 in all sorts of ways.

Which brings me to say that I feel a sense of relief that I'll be taking a break from racing events for an indefinite period of time. I've said this already, but I'm saying it now knowing that this is the best decision for me. I'm already excited for 2020 with our planned trip to Hayward in October for mountain biking! I'm so happy to think about that. I'm excited about our plan to attend a dealer event out in California so I can ride mountain bikes in a new place.

The next chapter in Bike Life is to seek out enriching experiences and do what I love most- which is to ride bikes the way I really like to ride. I like lots of miles (and smiles!), legit singletrack, and being able to sit on the side of the trail and eat snacks (because when I race, I can't eat for sh*t). I want to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. I like to explore new towns and shops, maybe have a local brew, and eat at some of the favorite local food stops.
I realize now more than ever, that my system was shocked and I think I haven't entirely recovered from the emotional and mental stress of 2018. I was given a gift of sorts, it was to step back re-prioritize my life. I developed a sense of missing out. How could I not? My dad missed out on retirement. Of being able to live the latter years of his life doing what he loved most, and that hit me hard. Ever since I started mountain biking, I wanted to explore trails elsewhere because everyone has told me "If you learn to ride in Decorah, you can ride anywhere." So I hoped that I could prove that correct- that's one of the small reasons I started to do events. It was an easy way of riding somewhere new because it was all marked out for you.

The thing that has worn on me is the chronic "Go Go Go" during events, and being I was a pretty solid mid-pack rider, I'd sometimes win in my age group. Awesome. However, that took away any "I'll just do this race for fun" mentality I might have tried to have. Instead, every event turned into "I have to prove myself to myself." I also used results to define who I was as a rider, and that is a slippery slope, one I wish to avoid as much as possible.

Chequamegon will happen and I'll do my thing, and when it's all said and done, I'll be glad that I did it one last time. If anything, to close (for now) a chapter of the Bike Life I created so I can hurry up and start on the new chapter that I'm chomping at the bit to create.

I am also reflecting on some changes for Josie's Bike Life and Fearless Women of Dirt for the near future, both of which are near and dear to my heart.

Rest assured that neither will go away, but I need to expand more on what I'm feeling drawn to right now- time will tell how that will play out in those two areas.

Either way, I anticipate positive change and growth, and am more accepting of the fact that time will be a larger factor than not.

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