Becoming “one” with the bike & getting my mojo back.

As much as I love my specialized fate hardtail, I have struggled to really feel comfortable with it. Unlike full suspension bikes, which I feel at ease on, I always feel like I am fighting against the bike with a hardtail. When I bought this bike, my plans for this year were to race the fate for some of the calmer/less technical races, but I would still primarily use my full suspension. Unfortunately, I learned early on that the reason I had trouble with various things on my full suspension (clipping my left foot in, etc) was due to the fact that it was two sizes too small, so I put it up for sale. This meant that I had no choice but to ride my fate for every mountain bike ride/race this year.

At first this wasn’t so bad, the first couple races of the year were not very technical, and I was able to compete even though me and the bike were still not used to one another. Unfortunately, once the races got more technical, things quickly changed for the worse. What confidence I had managed to gain over the course of the winter and early spring all went out the window one May day.

Rich wanted to pre-ride Domnarski farm, and although I wasn’t feeling it, I decided I should go since I had only done the first 3rd of the course twice as a cat 3 last year. I knew the section I had ridden last year was tough, but I expected the rest of the lap to be less technical, just with a lot of climbing. We were planning on doing two laps of the course, and had a good chunk of the day ahead of us. However, as soon as we began, I knew I was in for trouble. I felt like my lungs were going to explode, just climbing up the hill out of the parking lot (maybe that’s what you get for 0 warmup after an over hour drive in the car?), however, as we entered the woods things just got worse. I instantly felt light headed and dizzy AND of course I was getting eaten alive by every mosquito in the state. We weren’t even a mile in and I was swollen up head to toe and could barely see straight.

Well for the next nearly 2 hours I struggled just to get back to the car. I was off my bike a lot, as I did not feel comfortable at all on my bike and my head was just not in it. The smallest things would derail me, and there were so many bridges and water crossings (my favorite) that my confidence eroded quite quickly. Obviously there was no way I was going out for a second lap, so we decided to call it a day and head home. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get a chance to ride my mountain bike again until the next race weekend.

Memorial day weekend we went up to Coyote Hill, which I was looking forward to bc of the climbing. During my preride of the course Saturday, me and my bike had a huge falling out. My confidence was already shot from my last ride (domnarski farm), and this time I got very pissed off at my bike. Instead of getting frustrated with myself, I just wanted to throw my bike into the woods and leave it there. In the end I just ended up walking the bike the rest of the way in. I refused to race the next day, and on Monday struggled again at Pat’s Peak, where I had gotten the win last year.

At this point, all I wanted was a full suspension again. I researched bikes, and found one that looked like a good option for me. Unfortunately, being June, everything in my size was already sold out for the year. This just made me more upset, and I truly began to HATE my bike (yes, I even put it up for sale on craigslist!). Then a friend of a friend posted a link on twitter to a women’s only mtb clinic (sponsored by the Boston Luna Chix) happening 20 mins from my house. I was so excited, as I had been wanting to do a clinic all year, but they were all far away and/or cost a ton of money. In all my excitement, I totally forgot how much I didn’t like my bike. I ended up going to the clinic, meeting a great group of women, learning some good drills, and practiced becoming “one” with my bike. This was the first time I had ever really thought of it that way. Instead of trying to power my bike or force it to do certain things, I needed to pretend it was an extension of my body. After the clinic, we broke into groups and rode some trails in a relaxed environment which was a lot of fun.

Watching Pro Mountain Biker/Olympian Jimena show us her mad skills at the Luna Chix clinic (and yes, you can see me in the background).

Fast forward to my next ride at the local dam (a loop a have ridden a lot this year), and I felt like a totally new rider. I had finally gotten my bike mojo back! For the first time ever, I was able to do sections I had never done before, held my speed through some technical sections and truly felt “one” with my non full suspension fate! I’m hoping to carry this confidence through the rest of the season, even though my goals for the year have definitely changed. I am now less concerned with podiums and going to every race, but instead focused on learning to enjoy my bike and improve my skills. If things go well, I’d even love to try a “marathon” type course, whether it be a 50 miler or a 6/12 hr race. Regardless of what happens, my fingers are crossed that this was a turning point for me and there is no going back.

Have any of you had an “aha” moment on the bike? If so, I’d love for you to share it with me in the comment section below!

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Posted on June 22, 2012, in Biking, Mountain Bike, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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