Mountain biking and I did not have a “love at first ride” connection when I gave it my first go in 2011. Despite the struggles and tumbles, I knew there was something there and quickly fell in love with the sport. I actually fell many times over... on rocks, roots, bridges, and sometimes nothing at all, but I loved every second. (Bridges still terrify me unless they are three feet wide with railings on both sides!)
After about a year of riding recreationally my competitive nature overcame any fears I had and I entered my first race. Much to my surprise, not only was it exhilarating, but it
was also the most fun I had ever had on a bike. Who doesn’t love to ride with a ton of other people?! (I enjoy chatting while I make my way through the trails.) Now my biggest struggle with mountain biking is figuring out when I can ride my bike again and picking between races on the weekends. It's a good problem to have. :D
My favorite bike to ride is my Niner EMD, but I still love to go for a spin on the not-yet-extinct 26er once in a while. To date, my favorite race I've ever competed in is Iceman. The overall event and atmosphere on race day is amazing! But I'd have to say Mud, Sweat, and Beers is a close second. When riding around home in Grand Rapids my favorite trail is the Egypt Valley State Game Area which I highly recommend to anyone coming to town :)
Fat biking, touring, bike packing, mountain biking, riding around town, commuting, being on the bike all day, getting dirty, laughing about obstacles out on the trail, laughing about funny things that happen, seeing hard work pay off, forgetting about your problems, staying healthy – there’s a lot to love about biking. One of the best things I love is the sense of community that I’ve found with mountain bikes and all of the great folks I get to meet and great places I get to travel along the way.
I didn’t get “serious” about racing until I tore my ACL playing roller derby - (“serious” is a loose term here, my main goal in every race is to have fun!) I was told riding more would be really great for recovery. Lucky for me, through the bike shop where I worked, I met and become friends with a woman who raced bikes. (A lot!) Danielle Musto helped me figure out which races to sign up for. She encouraged me to just hop on the bike and to try it. The first few races I did were very slow-going… I wore a knee brace, I walked up every hill, I walked down some hills, I was afraid to pass, and in one race I even lost all of my snacks and went back to the car to find food before finishing the race! It didn’t matter where I placed because I felt like a winner after crossing the finish line – every time! Having a friend to help show me the ropes and to cheer me along helped tremendously!
What got me even more obsessed with racing was being on a fat bike and riding through stuff that any of my other bikes wouldn't have been able to! The community of fat bikers that surrounds us here in the Midwest is incredible.
What I discovered when the snow melted was that the community here is incredible no matter what. There is an amazing group of helpful, considerate, friendly, and creative people associated with WMMBA and it has been so awesome to get to know them. I’m so lucky to work with Danielle, Sarah, Julie, the WMMBA, and our community to make Skirts in the Dirt happen!
My introduction to mountain biking was a gradual process at first, but once I realized how much fun riding could actually be and how fantastic the mountain biking community was, I became hooked. One of my favorite things about mountain biking is not only the challenge of it, but also the serenity of it. I love how you can go out there, ride, and just clear your mind. I love the confidence gained from riding through accomplishing things that you may not have thought possible at first and watching your skills grow over time. I do not race all of the time, but when I do, enjoy every moment of it. Racing is just so much fun. The atmosphere. The energy. The people. There's nothing like it! I encourage everyone to at least try it twice! :)
Mountain biking is my passion and my love :) This sport has brought me so much joy and been such a blessing to my life – not only because it allows me to really experience trails, forests, hills and mountains, but also because it has introduced me to an amazing community.
For several years, I was a Never Ever. I said I would never do a mountain bike race because I loved the sport and I thought that racing would ruin it for me. Mountain biking was my stress reliever, it was what I LOVED to do -- I most definitely didn't want to turn it into something that caused me stress.
Then a friend convinced me to sign up for my first race... and it was a total blast!!. I was hooked :) I told myself I would quit racing as soon as it stopped being enjoyable.... and I stand by that... but still race today -- it's still fun! :) I am now more selective about the races I do, because I've learned what I like and what to avoid.
Racing doesn't have to be overly competitive -- it doesn't have to be painful! We can all get out on the course and push ourselves to see what we can do, and doing well can feel amazing. But in the in the end, what we are left with -- what we remember for years to come -- is the experience of riding the same trail, on the same day, in the same conditions our friends. We remember the event, we remember the smiles, and we remember the people we meet. This is what makes the racing worth it :)
I cannot wait to see you all on August 28th!