I’m struggling and you’d probably never be able to tell.
And if you were pressing me for advice I’d seem confident and centered. It’d seem like I’d worked through everything eating away at me inside. I seem as though I were completely assured of my decisions.
I hate talking about myself, but my self, my self aches. She needs a voice.
Biboon, winter, it was hard. And I tried. I tried to work. I tried to save money. I ended up living out of my car. It got cold and my sleeping gear got stolen. I couldn’t hack it in the car anymore. I almost fell in love, but he wouldn’t let me love him. That, still, breaks my heart. I tried so hard in school and failed countless exams. I just want to be good at something. I tried fat bike racing and gravel racing and wasn’t good at that either. But, I try to remind myself, I just started. I’m trying to become an athlete.
What did I give up to get here? Is it fair to say; everything? Maybe that’s why it hurts so much not to be better. I feel like I’m giving it all.
Remember how long it took me to lose that first 30 pounds? It took years to be good at losing weight. It took me years to be a good nanny, and a good (ish) mechanic. And it will take me years to be good at school. Some more years to be a good partner and a good self. I want to stop trying so hard. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to look at my reflection and still, after all these years of changing, of wanting to change more.
And I feel guilty. I want to stay, and to let someone in. I really do, but the trail is the only place in the world where I become the me I feel like I really am. It’s so selfish to leave. I’m always leaving. And year after year, I seek ways to keep that me that wakes up on the trail, alive throughout the year, away from the trail. But that she, hibernates.
She’s an animal. And animals don’t fit into a people’s metropolis. Animals belong in the wild. Plus, animals back home, they sleep the biboon away. Insomniac. An insomniac animal belongs nowhere. We all must sleep at some point.
Back to the divide again. This will be my fourth time traversing many sections of this trail. I’ll say once and half northbound. Second time southbound. My fourth time in Banff on the bicycle. In the effort to truly give it all up, I’ve ditched the derailleur and opted for a single cog. 19 teeth in the rear. 36 in the front.
36×19 on a 29er as a 29 year old woman. Last year, I carried the first womb across the finish line in a race that spanned 2700 miles. It was a win enough to last a lifetime. I’m back again, not to win. But to give my all. To leave the crutches and inadequacies in the miles behind me. I know I’m stronger than this, but the only way I’ll find that is if I force myself. I commit to the climb this time, no downshifting. Just my body and my Stella; Shimano can stay home this time. I don’t want the handicap. I can’t have the handicap. I doubt myself now, and I need that doubt to go away. I know better….
See, I’m lazy by nature. It takes more strength for me to find the gym than it takes to do the work out.
I remember my weaknesses from my traverse last year. I’ve spent the past year showing up, trying new things, pushing my perceived boundaries.
I pedaled the Colorado Trail finishing just 2.5 hours behind the women’s record setter, Ashley. In that race I learned, the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line; I’d given up on racing the night before thinking the two women in front of me were so far ahead that there was no chance I’d catch them and slept 10 hours.
I rode the Smoke and Fire with a failed charging set up. I had to charge at outlets along the route. I pushed my sleep boundaries and finished 11th overall after nearly quitting because the race wasn’t going the way I envisioned it. I learned that things go wrong, but those aren’t avenues for exit. Those are tests of hunger. Do you really want this as bad as you say you do?
I spun the Marji Gesick. A single day in the saddle. A test in pacing and juggling school and racing. I learned to push myself to ride as hard as I could the entire time. Sometimes as hard as I can is 20 mph, and sometimes as hard as I can is 2mph. Don’t save anything for later. When later comes, I’ve found, I always have something to give anyways. I’m no planner, I figure, it works out when I get there. Wherever there is.
I found fat biking. I raced the Tuscobia winter ultra. Only 80 miles and 8 flat tires to hold me back. I’d been pedaling strong; I think I was in the top 5 before my tires failed, I was feeling great to boot. I lost some 10 places due to an hour of pumping my tires. I watched rider after rider pass me in the desolate, wintry, Wisconsin woods. I kept at it, and somehow still set a course record. I learned that tubeless tires really only work for me in the summer.
I Polar Rolled, 30 snowy miles without my glasses. I learned to be prepared and to note my tire pressure. I learned not to give up even though walking a bike through the Michigan woods was a stupid task; I was passed by people running in snow shoes. 9 hours later, soaked and exhausted I hugged those crazy weirdos faster than me. Jill and Matt and Chelsea and Tyler. They remind me of my potential. I only dream of becoming athletes like they are. But they, they are my tribe and regardless of our finishing times, we all carve out time to be in the same place time after time. After all, it’s place that truly connects us.
I DKXL’d and snapped my pedal off. I’d worked on my sleep game, I’d dialed in my food game. I’d put the media presence outside my mind. I raced. I mentally quit a million times. I never quit in reality. I learned that it only takes one yes to change the outcome of everything.
I don’t know what the Tour Divide 2019 has to teach me. But, I’m lining up at the starting line with an open heart to figure it out.
I still need something, so I set out to find it…