Advocating Bike Life and Happyness
Eventually, we sought out new places to ride and I loved the adventure of it! I couldn't wait for our road trips to new trails so I could see what I could or couldn't ride. The trips would provide an opportunity for me to grow and gain handling skills, along with keeping me humble.
Then the allure of strapping on a number plate came into my life because I was a woman and women were underrepresented in local races and beyond. For someone who battled high anxiety, committing to a race was challenging, but I did so for several years.
I tried to book myself with a couple of races per year, but the more I did them the less I enjoyed them. The pressure to perform was high, and even tho I had become a fairly skilled rider, I came to the conclusion that the environment just wasn't for me.
I loved the communities I visited, the folks who volunteered, and the new friends I made...I had no problems with that. It was the pre-race anxiety and the post-race drain that started to get old for me real quick. Well, not so quick, because I kept committing myself to races up until the fateful day that I decided to DNS and go mountain biking instead.
I had more fun that weekend in Hayward than I had for the 4 years Travis and I traveled there. That's saying a lot.
I admitted to myself that a lot of the reasons I had for racing weren't necessarily for me, but for everyone else. I was doing it to increase the number of female participants by one, I was racing because I felt like I was obligated to because I was a decent rider, and I had an expensive bike that would be classified as a "race" bike. Yes, I wanted to see how I'd do, but showing up to the start line every year wasn't truly for myself. I had the feeling that I had to prove something to everyone, and that's not why I started mountain biking.
Why is it that we put so much pressure on ourselves? For some reason, I walked away from the parts of mountain biking that brought me the greatest joy. I brought in aspects of it that weren't necessarily bad, but they didn't really resonate with who I am and what I wanted to represent as part of the women's mountain biking community.
Instead, I felt drowned by the pressure, because I was more of the weekend warrior who had streaks of luck (mixed with technical riding ability) rather than the rider who had time to legitimately train. I worried that if I quit racing I wouldn't be taken seriously as a female mountain biker. I wondered if my blog would be ignored because I wasn't putting myself out there as a competitor, thus not being seen by folks on a regular enough basis. (If you feel that showing up for a race maybe once or twice a year was regular!) I might have the bike and the gear, but I don't have the heart and soul of a racer.
I have the heart and soul of an explorer.
I want to visit new towns, ride new trails, and make more friends.
I want to immerse myself in the communities I've grown to love along with finding new "second homes."
I want to take in the views, snap photos of the local flora and fauna, and enjoy my ride however I'm feeling at that moment. Maybe fast or possibly slow, it really doesn't matter as long as I'm having fun.
I've found my current calling at this point in my Bike Life is to advocate the fun, adventure, and exploration of mountain biking. You don't have to race in order to explore new places- you simply have to take the time and effort to do so. The nice thing about not racing and increasing exploration and adventure is you can do things your way more so. You're not on a schedule dictated by an event, but by what you want to do. Get up when you feel like it, eat where you want/whatever you want, and choose your adventure for the day!
I realize that by not racing I'm not getting my name out in the mountain bike community with results, and that's okay. I'd rather folks find me because they are curious about bringing more exploration into their Bike Life. Bike Life should be whatever brings you happyness, and if you aren't feeling joy with how you're rolling currently, then it's time to take a look and figure out what needs to change.
This is what Josie's Bike Life is all about.