Bikes really are the love of my life

I have all these anecdotes from mountain biking, and for a while I’ve been thinking how great it would be if someday I could write a book about it all. But why wait until someday? You only have now. My friend suggested that I start a blog, and so here I am. And maybe one day when I’m recuperating from some sort of inevitable injury (“If yer not slidin’ yer not ridin'”), I will sift through this jumble of words for the good stuff…and by golly one day I will write a book.

But for now, it’s the blogosphere for me. As Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Let’s get rolling.

I have always loved bicycles. When I learned to ride a bike in 3rd grade, one of the first things I did was ride straight into a parked car. In 8th grade I managed to break my arm while riding a bike. During undergrad I would regularly commute by bicycle. When I was 23 I got hit by a car while commuting to work. I even played bike polo for a brief stint. Despite the inherent danger and my innate ability to injure myself on the bike, I have always had a love affair with bicycles. But I never considered myself a “serious” cyclist (you know, with the spandex get-up and all) until the past couple years.

In January of 2012 when I was living and working in Charlottesville, I was accepted to physical therapy school. As a reward I decided to buy myself a shiny new steel frame cyclocross/touring bike from Blue Ridge Cyclery. Thor was (and still is) a 30-pound beast, but somehow the shop guys convinced me to join in on the Sunday morning gravel road rides. Gravel road rides (aka gravel grinders) are great winter training because the roads are decently sheltered from the wind and you don’t go as fast — ergo, you don’t freeze quite as much.

To this day I fondly remember my first “big ride.” I had no water bottles, no snacks, no bike-specific clothes, no clipless shoes/pedals… I had no idea what I was doing, aside from the obvious — that I was going on a bike ride. It was only through sympathy from other kind riders who shared their water and snacks with me that I survived the 2-hr and 30-mile journey into the mountains and back. But I did it, and I even had fun, and I was hooked. So I started doing the Sunday gravel road rides with all the mountain bikers, and eventually they convinced me to try mountain biking.

My very first “real” mountain bike ride was in March of 2012, during which I proceeded to crash no fewer than five times (I lost count actually, but five sounds about right). The last crash I managed to sublux a rib — that means dislocating and relocating in quick succession. I was broken in, literally, and it took a good month or so before I was good to ride again. So, after such a wonderful experience (note the sarcasm), how did I ever want to ride a bike again, you ask. I’m not sure either, except that as I have previously stated, I just love bikes.

So, let’s jump to now, about two and half years later. Obviously, I am still riding bikes. I’m on the Coqui Cyclery grassroots mountain bike team based in Richmond, VA, and I have become a bit of a cycling maniac. Honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Over time cycling has slowly changed my life. I would even go as far as to say that mountain biking has saved my life: it’s given me improved self-confidence, the ability and drive to test my limits (both physical and mental), I’m in the best shape of my life (once again both physical and mental), and I’ve learned the most important concept of positive mental attitude. And — this is kind of a big deal, maybe the biggest — I’ve met some of the best people through mountain biking.

In a nutshell, mountain biking has helped me become harder, better, faster, stronger. And not just on the bike, but in all aspects of life. It’s something I love so much, that I can’t help but want to share the stoke, the love, the joy. And even better, any mountain biking theme can be extrapolated and applied to other areas of life.

So if you’re reading this and you’re already a mountain biker, great! I hope you enjoy my interpretation of our sport. If you’re reading this and you’re not a mountain biker and you’re thinking, “Wow, mountain biking sounds scary, this girl is crazy,” then maybe I can sell you on why mountain biking is pretty much the best thing ever. Either way, get ready for some life-changing revelations from behind bars…handlebars, that is.

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