We’re back in Flagstaff. Back in the city where I bought my beautiful Specialized Myka Comp mountain bike four years ago. At the time, spending $600 on a respectable bike was a statement. That bicycle was qualified to ride places that I was not willing to go yet, but in buying it I was making a promise to myself. I would see this through. I wanted to be a woman who rode her mountain bike on actual single track. This morning I carried my bike down the stairs, suited up and hit the trails by myself, because I really wanted to go biking. I enjoyed my ride so much that when I returned I even wiped off my bike, not sure what exactly to do for it, but wanting to show my bike some love for all the enjoyment it provides me. I’ve made it.
Now, I consider myself an experienced beginner working on becoming an intermediate rider. I have ridden on trails in more than 7 states and 2 Canadian provinces. Given time and access, I ride every week, gaining an ounce of confidence with each pedal stroke. It’s particularly rewarding to be back in Flagstaff, riding trails that brought me to tears only a few years ago. Now, riding solo, taking a direct line, and shifting gears appropriately, I let out a “Yip Yip” every time I successfully surmount a new obstacle. I can even look up every once in awhile, like this morning, when I was rewarded by the sight of a deer with antlers running across the trail a dozen yards in front of me.
I have learned a valuable lesson in persistence. If it were not for Jay and his obsession with mountain biking, I would not have kept trying for this long. Mountain biking is not a skill that you pick up after a couple of tries (unless you are otherwise inclined towards this type of sport); it takes many stretches of walking your bike, skittering awkwardly on rocks and roots, and attacks of simultaneous anxiety and frustration. The learning curve is littered with insurmountable logs, snakes slithering across the trail, and false summits. At many times it is literally a big pain in the rear end. Finally, I feel like I have reached a stretch where I can catch my breath and just ride.