Lots of new things going on over in my part of the world. In March, I got a new job in a totally new field. And the new job has pretty strict internet usage rules so no blogging over my lunch break, like I did at my old job.
I'm about halfway into my "Summer of Fun" and man, is it exhausting. Last summer, I had to say no to so many things because of IM Boulder training. It sucked. So this year, I'm not saying no unless I have a really good reason. So far, I've gone to two concerts at Red Rocks, did a free SUP demo class, raced IM Boulder 70.3 (my only serious race of the year), ran a bacon 6k (seriously, there was bacon at the aid station, and yes, it was about as gross as you'd expect) and my newest thing is learning to mountain bike.
As someone told me on facebook: you're from Colorado, shouldn't you already know how to do that?
Sadly, I have no idea what I'm doing on a MTB. And it shows. My poor legs are covered in bruises and a really cool 3" scratch across my shin from where my pedal bit me as I flew over my handlebars last Sunday. Honestly, my current goal is to make it through a ride without crashing.
So this process has been interesting. And by that I mean frustrating.
How many times have you learned a physical skill in your adult life? Like skiing or snowboarding or MTB?
This is my first real time learning something as an adult, and wowzers, it sucks. I'm simply not used to not having the physical ability to do what I want. My brain tells me I can do it (*poof* up the mountain) but my body quickly tells me I need to start with the basics.
I did a couple really easy rides. Like the worn dirt next to the paved bike path or a washed out dirt road. Then I got the idea to do these women's rides that were advertised as "beginner". One night it was 3 Sisters, with something stupid like 750 ft climbing in 1.5 miles, with switchbacks and rocks and water dams (ie big logs). I lost count after 5 crashes. And I broke my sunglasses. Then the next week, I did another women's ride (different group, different trail) and it was horrible. 3 crashes in less than 10 minutes left me angry crying on the side of the mountain in front of complete strangers. It was awful. I think the girls thought I was crying because I scuffed up my knees and was bleeding, so they showed me all of their elbow scars. I was really crying because I was ANGRY. When I get really frustrated or angry, I cry. Awesome, right? so I'm angry crying and the race coordinator has no idea how to handle me and gave me a little (and probably gentle) talk about how the girls in the group do not indulge in negative self talk (I was probably muttering something about how terrible I am at MTB). I think I responded with "I'm just being realistic and what will really help me is silence" and then I pushed my MTB up the hill. I was *pissed* And frustrated, and embarrassed.
I am not used to struggling athletically. Which is kinda funny because until a few years ago, if you called me athletic, I would have laughed. Funny how perspective changes.
My coach is also learning how to MTB (she actually broke her wrist and her hand - different arms - riding something too hard for her) so we've been having lots of chats about actually being beginners and accepting our beginnerness.
And I've really committed and purchased this:
Last Thursday, Will and I went to the skills park by our house:
And it was scary. I could do the flow tracks because both wheels stayed on the ground, but any elevated ramp or bump was SCARY!! Will's answer: just ride faster
This answer is not filed away for next winter when he doesn't want to follow me on his snowboard because it looks hard.
I ended up being able to do all the bump-ramps as long as I was squared up as I entered them. And I just gave everything else a big noooo. Including the teeter-totter, which I could probably do, but then Will said it was easy to go too fast and ride off the thing before it tottered over. Nice!
Yesterday I took a 4 hour MTB clinic. It was supposed to be a 2 hr beginner class, but that ended up being just parking lot drills. I wanted trail experience, so I signed up for the 2 hr intermediate. (and don't get me into how I packed for a 2 hr adventure [food/water] and got pretty bonky riding up... sigh).
The instructor said I was doing really well, considering I've ridden a total of 6 times. In my head, I should be *so much better*. I'm an Ironman, I can do anything. Right?
So the lesson here is to take things easy, master some basic skills, try to not get too frustrated, and have courage that I'll be tearing things up in no time. Or at least functional enough to not die during my Xterra in August...