Who you ride with is so important. It can truly make or break your whole experience. If you’re surrounded by the right people, you can coast through things you never would even consider attempting alone.
I have been very fortunate in my riding buddies so far. Even though pretty much all of them are leaps and bounds ahead of me in years experience and skill, they’re never annoyed by my frequent stopping, being generally slow, or asking questions. They’re happy to teach me a new skill or just encourage me to roll over that tiny step and celebrate with me when I tackle a terrifying wood berm. I will take a moment to give a shout out to Ryan, Laura, Geoff, Chee, Bryan, Matt, Mike, my class with Escape Adventures, and anyone else I happened to cross paths with so far. All of these people have been overwhelmingly supportive and pushed me to do things I never thought I was capable of doing.
Alright, the award acceptance speech portion is over. Now to the ride! Ryan and I headed up to Squamish to ride Half Nelson, purposely bringing my GoPro to get some footage of me for this blog. I am definitely nervous about putting my riding out there because of the overwhelming number of videos of people absolutely killing it out on the trails. I am definitely not a super fast, amazing rider and for some reason filming makes it seem like you’re going even slower than you are. So if my videos are boring compared to what you usually watch, I apologize, but if you’re someone just starting out then maybe they’re stepping stone videos showing something a bit more realistically achievable.
The first proud moment was one of endurance. I managed to ride all the way from the parking area to the switchback up to Half Nelson without walking at all! This is a massive achievement for me as, just earlier this year, I couldn’t make it from the Fromme parking lot to the gate/washrooms (for non-locals, this is not very far). What made it easier was that even though Ryan was on his massive downhill bike and basically had to walk the whole way, he didn’t mind me riding up ahead instead of keeping pace with him. He also cheered me on when I was slowing down and thought I’d have to stop and walk. SO proud!
Other than that, I rode a few little features that I’ve always been too afraid of before and went way faster on Half Nelson than I ever have! All in all it was a successful day and Ryan’s cheering and encouragement definitely contributed to that success.
So when you’re picking people to ride with make sure they’re people who push you to do your best without overdoing it. If you feel like they’re always on your case or forcing you to do things you feel are unsafe or, frankly, you just don’t feel like doing that day, consider getting different riding buddies.
To those of you amazingly talented riders who are going out with beginner friends, remember that they’ll need a bit more support and will be running a lot slower than you. Be prepared for a day where you may be spending a lot of time waiting or riding slower than you usually would.
Also, to anyone, when making plans make sure you’re all on the same page of what kind of ride it will be. Are you just carpooling together and meet back at the car at 5? Is the faster person going to zip ahead and wait for you in intervals? Will they ride behind you and help you out with some encouragement? It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as everyone is mentally prepared for the same thing. Enjoy each other’s company. This sport is fun on your own but don’t discount the value of being with others. Happy riding.