I Tried to Ride

There’s a women’s Mountain Bike Club here. On the website, it looks like an awesome, supportive environment to learn and have fun! They started the season with a kick-off party that included group rides, and with that idea came all of the social anxieties. Do I wear my mountain bike gear? If I don’t wear it will I look lame? If I do wear it will they expect me to be better than I am? Will they judge me when I suck? Okay, so I convinced my friend who by the way, IS AWESOME, and also a newbie to go with me, thus, huge confidence boost! Woohoo! We might look dumb, but at least we’ll be together! We’re going! We’re accountable! We’re committed!

The day of the event comes, and she’s ill. And I don’t mean “boo you whore” sick, but actually too sick to go. Naturally, I have a meltdown and miss the first group ride. My boyfriend talks me down and gets me into my car and headed down to the event for the later ride. In the car, I’m full of pep talks! I’m wearing all the right gear, I’ve got the shorts, the jersey, the gloves, my bike looks badass! Because you can’t tell by looking at it that it shifts funny and I’m still not sure how to fix that…..never mind. I’m gonna crush it, I have a helmet friendly hairdo and my helmet has been certified as “cool” by my more experienced boyfriend. Just don’t look at my feet because clips scare me so I’ve got Nikes and flat pedals and anytime anyone glances down I’ll probably start hyperventilating BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. 

I’m stoked.

I’m ready.

I’m unintentionally slowing down on the freeway……

So like any strong, empowered woman who don’t need no man would do, I called my boyfriend in a panic instead of logically pulling over and ASKED HIM if I should pull over. The stupidity of this move was only clear to me in hindsight. I made it to the exit and rolled off the freeway, coasting until I came to a stop on a side road between two gas stations, blocking one of the entrances. Still on the phone, still panicked, he coaches me through trying to get the car back in gear which doesn’t work, and then I try to push the car, but of course, I rolled to a stop pointing uphill so I get nowhere and have to jump back in the car to brake as it starts rolling backwards. I opened the hood, looked at everything, called my dad, found out I don’t actually have AAA when I thought I did (working on rectifying that), and then put the E-brake on and seatbelted myself back into my seat to try to keep my shit together.

Fast forward a while and my knight in shining armor who was driving to skiing and bailed to come get me shows up, and says: “I’m here to rescue you, beautiful damsel!” Just kidding. But that’s basically about how useless I felt as depression started shouting at me: You ruined his day! You don’t deserve his help! Why couldn’t you be more competent so he could have fun!

In real life, he says: “Woah, there’s fluid all over your car” which, in all of my panic I had neglected to notice. Holy crap, you’re so stupid, how long have you had a car and you can’t tell it’s covered in ATF??

Long story short, one of my transmission hoses had come detached due to a broken clamp and spewed fluid everywhere, making it so my car couldn’t go into gear. Luckily, I had broken down across the street from Lowe’s so we could run over and buy a new clamp, which my boyfriend was kind enough to install for me so I could avoid ruining my brand new (well, newly consigned) jersey, and once we added 5 quarts of ATF, suddenly it was driving! This only took us about 4 hours, so I missed all of the group rides, and try as he might, the boyfriend could not convince me to go to the kick-off party that late. The good news is, this is a to be continued story…..they have a newbie/beginner ride in a few weeks, and it’s on my calendar, and I am GOING. I hope.

Bouldering League

Gripped. Terrified. Panicked.

These are the words I could use to describe the time a small rock slide started while we were in a chute on Mt. Sneffels, or the time I got lost at a resort and ended up on a black run instead of a blue, or the time my dog had an allergic reaction while we were backpacking, but this time it was much more simple. I was on the second to last hold on V2 that I had just been crushing during a bouldering league practice. Frozen, and running out of strength fast, I could have gotten myself out of this situation by grabbing the finish hold and climbing back down the rungs to the ground. Unfortunately, my brain could not process that plan as I hung, knees balled up toward my chest, feet having long since slipped from their respective holds. I became hyper aware of everyone in the bouldering area of the gym looking at me, as the blood started pounding in my ears blocking out everyone who I assume was saying “you’re fine”, “what’s wrong”, and “just let go”. Eventually, I managed to peel one finger at a time off of the hold I was grabbing for just long enough to grasp a down-climbing rung, and swing down hand over hand flailing my legs until I slipped off. Flat on the mat with tears on my face and my breath coming painfully fast, I could feel hands touching my shoulders and I slowly inched backward from the wall to get out of the way.

“You could have just jumped, you would have been fine.” Their words echoed what the logical part of my brain already knew, but couldn’t get through the sheet of panic. It echoes again and again after every job I’m too afraid to go for and every coffee date I don’t set up with a new acquaintance or old friend, every time I chicken out I hear it and I hate myself….

“You could have jumped, you would have been fine”

“You could have jumped”

“You. Could. Have. JUMPED.”

We might not all show it in panic attacks, but there is something in all of us that tries to keep us from jumping. Fear. Anxiety. Insecurity. I could get the thesaurus out, but you all know these feelings and no matter how hard it was, we have all mastered them! And yet, they still plague us. It can pop up on a boulder problem when one second before we were feeling super solid, or on that kick turn that feels too exposed when you were just crushing the skin up, or just before that presentation at work when you were just feeling so confident… the floor falls out from under us. Hopefully, not because there’s an avalanche, but the emotional storm can crush and suffocate us nonetheless. And yet, we stand back up.

We get back on the mountain.

And we jump.

The truth is, I came back to the next league practice to be super frustrated that the problem I panicked on had been reset and didn’t exist anymore; inducing feelings of so much relief that I didn’t have to go back up there, and then guilt for feeling so relieved. However, I did finish three other V2s that day…..and down-climbed most of the way down before jumping.

You don’t have to jump from the top to make a jump. Just jump.