In a clinic we held last weekend we had a brand new rider. She came up from 2 and ½ hours away with a rented bike to learn some skills. When we began she didn’t know how to shift or brake let alone correct body position on a bike. We worked through all the skills and she did great. Always had a smile on her face and was truly learning the entire day.
We end our clinics with a trail ride to give participants an opportunity to decompress and apply what they learned. I was bringing up the rear on this particular ride and had the pleasure of hanging out with Renae.
Does everyone remember what it is like when you first started mountain biking and the climbing SUCKS? No matter how fit you are, the gearing, the terrain and the heart rate through the roof is hard to adjust to. I always tell newer riders about how I had just completed an ultra marathon and couldn’t keep up with riders 20 years older than me on a ride when I first started riding. I was literally off my bike, holding on to a tree gasping for air.
After some time, Renae was done. She had been working muscles and brain power for 5 hours and her body was saying we are done, I want to go home now. We have an alternate line on our ride for just this situation. We built into our route the ability to get off the trail and take a quick gravel road back to the cars. We don’t care if riders opt out and want to get back faster. All riders need to listen to their bodies and keep themselves safe from over doing it. I let Renae know about this option and she quickly said, “Oh that sounds good! Let’s do that!”
As we got closer to the road, Renae quietly says,” I think I will be bummed if I take the road back.” We stopped and I realized what needed to happen. Renae needed to finish this damn ride and if she didn’t she was going to be upset with herself. I told her, “Then we are taking the trail back. I don’t care how long it takes us. Your heart rate is good, we have snacks and water and we have about 15 minutes of riding left. If we have to walk that and make it 30 minutes we will.” With a smile on her face she said, “Let’s do it!”
I increased my chatting tenfold. I had been telling stories engaging Renae so she would not focus on how tired she was. We stopped and walked when she needed to. On the way back there is a small dry creek crossing that has loose rocks. I warned Renae it was coming up and made sure she knew she could walk if she wanted. Now I am all about sessioning areas and helping riders get through obstacles. However when fatigue sets in, skills go out the window. I do not like seeing riders crash so if I feel someone is not feeling up to it I do not push those limits. To my absolute delight Renae without hesitation, went through it and cleared the entire thing! We both started excitedly screaming. It was such an amazing sight to see. She kept on riding and as our cheers died down she said, “OMG Jeni I have chills!! That was amazing!!” I seriously almost choked up. She is not the first rider I have helped overcome an obstacle but knowing how tired she was and how new she is to the sport it was an incredible moment to watch HER do it.
Whether you like it or not Renae that grit and determination is what makes an MTB girl. You are official now. Welcome to the club badass.