Happyness Discoveries of 2019

During the past several months I've been reflecting a lot on bike life and happyness, so I decided to make a list of what I've learned so far.

It's been a great "Yes Year" and I am stoked to have experienced growth in biking as well as life.

1. Re-embracing the casual side of MTB by way of baggies. 
I do not regret filling up my closet with lycra, but I have a newfound appreciation of baggy shorts and more casual-fit tops. I found new colors, patterns, and fits.

For a long time, I thought I'd never find baggy shorts that I liked because of my experiences in my early years of mountain biking. I've been proven wrong, and I like it. It's almost like I'm going "back to my roots" and it's fun. I'll still throw on lycra when it's super hot or when I feel like it, but I'm enjoying having more options for bike wear.

2. Strava is fun, but not a requirement.
I went on a Strava kick for a bit, but I did notice that I started turning almost every ride into a "push myself" sort of ride. If not the entire time, then on certain trails where I wanted to have a local be a QOM. After Strava didn't want to connect when Travis and I were riding Rock Lake in Wisconsin, I realized that I enjoyed not having it on literally and mentally. I just rode. I didn't care. I've found that it makes getting ready to ride just slightly quicker because I'm not dinking around with my phone. I don't need Strava in my life. I decided it's fun to use when I feel like it, but it's not necessary for my bike life.

3. Beer doesn't make my world go 'round.
I enjoy a good beer. I'm a quality vs. quantity drinker, and I enjoy that cold and crisp post-ride beverage like any other human being. I have found that it's not necessary for me to have a beer every day or after every ride. It's a refreshing discovery that has re-set my appreciation for liquid carbohydrates. I'll never be the person who needs to drink to ride, and that's okay. More than anything, I feel we are our own worst critics when it comes to imbibing, and if your friends respect you (and you respect them) what you choose to drink after a ride doesn't matter. It's the fact you rode together that does.

4. Knee pads are nice.
Not only do they protect my knees from my brake levers smashing into them, but they also give me a bit of a confidence boost when I'm riding somewhere new. I've ridden without knee pads for years and will continue to do so on local trails, but I'm not afraid to throw them on when I'm somewhere different. If it makes me more inclined to try something new or otherwise challenging, then it's totally worth it!

5. Rest days are worth it.
I've been one to hate rest days with a passion, and I would also fear that I would lose any and all fitness or mountain biking capabilities. Actually, it's totally the opposite. You'll probably find that you can ride better during your first ride after a rest because you feel fresh and are less fatigued emotionally and physically. It also helps you to appreciate the ride days.

6. Take that photo!
Sometimes picture taking is a way of giving myself a break if I need it. It's part of what I enjoy when I'm outside. Certain times of the year have neat things, like flowers or fungi, and why not snap a photo if that is what you want to do? Sometimes we're visiting areas that we might not be riding at for another year or so, and in which case, I want to capture a moment in time.

7. Not racing was the best decision I've made for myself.
I was able to enjoy a weekend out of town 100% more than anticipated because I listened to myself and what I really wanted to do. It helped me see that things change and we should honor those changes rather than forcing something that really doesn't resonate. I instantly became happier once I followed my heart.

8. Living the "You Do You" mentality.
I'm fully embracing whatever it is that makes me happy, and I expect other folks to do the same. I'll wear bike clothes that I feel good in, that I like the looks of. I'll drink a beer if I want or opt for a sparkling water if I'm not feeling it. I'm not going to pre-schedule dozens of interviews for JBL, because during the busy season I get stressed out and it would be good to have one less thing on my plate. Basically, continue my pursuit of authentic living.

9. There is nothing wrong with taking medicine.
I understood that I couldn't pursue my happyness life if I was drowning in anxiety. For awhile I was worried about how people would perceive me if they knew I was taking "drugs" for anxiety. Well, the fact is, the only opinion that matters is my own. One of the ways I want to combat the stigma of mental health is not to call the pills "drugs" but they are medicine. Medicine is commonly recognized as something good, and in my instance, the pills are good. My hope, with time, is that I'll be able to wean myself off the medicine and perhaps use CBD in place. Until my brain has time to heal, I feel that taking medicine is a good thing for me at this point. I want folks to acknowledge that mental health is something that is important- and that it's something we should discuss more often.

10. Bum bags are the best and squish for the win!
Really, I can't say enough about how handy bum bags/fanny packs/hip packs are. Tho I'm super happy with the new Camelbak pack I purchased, for most other rides, the humble bum bag reigns supreme.

I absolutely love my Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper and can say it was one of my best "Yes Year" purchases to date. I was able to see how capable this bike was on our recent trip to Levis and I'm chomping at the bit to take her on other adventures that will further inspire me and build my confidence.

Lastly, with a new fork gifted to me for my 35th Birthday, we gave Shreddy an upgrade that is worth mentioning. I can say that I really dig my custom-built Specialized Epic Evo and with this bike, I'm also looking forward to taking it on other trails to really let it shine!

More or less, I've allowed myself to bring more of "me" back into my riding by doing what I want, how I want, and when I want.