|The Curious Professor Z's Bat Fit 2016|
When spring started this year I thought I was in the worst physical shape I have been in for years! I was steadily gaining weight and couldn't keep up with my regular cycling club rides this year. I was really worried I would never be able to keep up again. My cardio has never been good but this year it was atrocious. I am a very experienced mountain biker. I've been riding for at least 10 years but that doesn't mean a thing if you're sucking too much air and feel like you're going to pass out while trying to ride up a hill.
Since I couldn't keep up with the fast guys on the regular rides anymore I started posting my own slower rides just to get myself going again. Luckily some of the ladies from my bike club are joining me and we are working towards building up the cardio at a good pace.
We had a special advanced bike skills clinic as well this week working on some technical skills of riding on rocks. A few of the instructors took on the challenge of teaching some of us girls how to ride down tricky rocky and rooty descents and how to lift our front tires in order to ride over larger log crossings. Most of us girls were experienced riders, so it was interesting to see how we can keep improving on the sport. Even if you think you are really good at something there is always the next level to learn when it comes to mountain biking.
You see, in the mountain biking community there are two types of riders. Those that like to go as fast as they can on smooth trails and those that like to ride slowly and technical over rocks. The first type is what I like to call the "roadies" or racers. You know the type. They watch everything they eat, they know exactly how much their bike weighs, they use Strava to keep track of their times, and they usually belong to some type of race club. They are the A-Type personalities of the mountain biking world. The second type of mountain bikers are what I call the "good timers". They just like to have a good time on the trails. Whether it's slow or fast. They are easy to spot because they usually have a beer in their hand and a smile on their face after a long ride. They ride heavier all-mountain bikes instead of light weight bikes, they prefer flat pedals instead of being clipped into the pedals, they look for the challenges on the trail rather than riding by them, and they love beer!
I definitely fit in better with the good timers. My bike skills are pretty good but I definitely need to work on improving them. I need to improve my cardio also so I can keep up to the guys again but I'm not interested in racing again any time soon. I did do some racing almost 10 years ago. But that seems like another lifetime now. I would rather spend my time these days teaching new riders rather than trying to improve my time on Strava.
What I love about the sport is that I'm out in nature at least three times a week. I love to be in the woods. It's my home away from home. When you are mountain biking you have to focus solely on the trail in front of you. You have no time to think about everyday troubles or worries when you're riding because if you let your mind wander too much you end up crashing into a tree! You are entirely focused on what is coming up ahead of you. How to get over that rock, what line to pick, or looking further down the trail. You will end up in this meditative zone of cycling. It is definitely good for the soul as well as your body.
This soul healing quality to mountain biking is hard to describe. It struck me the other day during the skills clinic just how much mountain biking perfectly mirrors life in a way that was completely unexpected for me. There we were, a group of experienced female riders learning new skills on a difficult trail. Basically what we were learning was that sometimes it's better to slow down and take on the challenges that come along in life instead of trying to race past everything difficult and take the easy route around the obstacle. Sometimes you have to face that challenge head on and conquer it even though you might crash. Now that's an important life lesson! Even if you do crash, just pick yourself up and dust off the dirt and try that obstacle again and again until it is no big deal anymore. If you never try to conquer your inner demons you will never know your full self on the other side of fear. The best things in life are on the other side of fear so don't let it hold you back any longer. I said to the instructor after the ride that I crashed more that day than I have any many years and he said that's because you tried to do more than you have been doing for many years. He's so right. I had become stale in a holding pattern of only taking the easy route. But not only the easy route on the trails but also in life. The challenge free route might be easy and drama free but it will never lead you to where you want to go in life.
Hopefully this summer I can finally get my cardio back in shape but I know it's going to take a long time to get there and I'm going to have to face my demons instead of trying to run away from them! Go over those rocks and roots until they become easy and then search for a new challenge!