I had a fun ride last Wednesday with the Dirt Divas. They let me lead and since the trails had been pretty dry for the last week, we decided to take some singletrack just north of Campbell Airstrip Road. After we finished that stretch we were discussing the next leg of the ride - across the road and then ride the STA trails.
One of the riders opted out because she has a touch time on the new singletracks. I told her I thought she'd do great, after all she is strong and did just fine on the bumpy rooty trails we'd just finished. Turns out, she told me, it was the descending that was a big challenge for her. I felt a bit bad that I didn't change the route but I don't think she wanted us to change our ride for her and I can understand where she's coming from.
Over a dozen years ago when I first started mountain biking in Anchorage, plenty of hills intimidated me. I still had a lot to learn about maneuvering my body with the bike, about trusting myself to move back off the saddle without losing control and believing that two brakes are better than one. On a few hills I would ride behind Jon or our friends and run down with my bike then climb back on before they could catch on to what I was doing. I was a pretty timid rider. I can still be that way if I'm on a new trail or one that just plain freaks me out because it has lots of steep drops and rocky ledges. When we travel to the desert it always takes me a few days to remember how the bike handles on that terrain compared to ours.
Mountain biking, or any skill for that matter, takes some patience and practice. There are things to learn about handling and things to learn about ourselves, including our tolerance for things that could hurt us. The more time we spend on the bike especially on trails that make us just a little bit nervous, the better riders we will be. Which reminds me of this one spot...
On the STA trails, there's this one right-turning switchback at the very beginning. This silly little corner where I've never seen anyone else have a problem is my little nemesis. It has shut me down every time. I know I should be able to ride it and I feel really lame that it trips my "I can't" button every time. I've even tried a do-over. (I mostly hate do-overs.) My friend Karen tried to show me how to ride it the other evening, but I stalled as always. Next time, I told myself, I'm going to try a higher gear. I will keep trying.
Yesterday I was riding with Jon. It was my first time out in a week since I have been a little under the weather. I was on my twenty-niner and still didn't make the darn turn. The brain is just being stubborn now. Still, I am determined that before the snow creeps down the mountains, I will nail it. Um, depending on how many do-overs I can stand.