Day 1/45

Unless something very interesting or significant happens, these daily updates will most likely be in short video form.  This first video and the last one, however, will be a bit longer.  I want to be able to show the full runs in order to have a comparison for my very last ride of this experiment which will be the same trails as the first.

You may notice a “woo!” near the beginning of Bobsled.  That, my friends, is my first jump.  Although it doesn’t look like much, I can tell you it was pretty exciting at the time.  Maybe I can get those to be a bit bigger and more noticeable on camera as time goes on.  Enjoy!

 

*I should also note this is my first time captioning and I was using quite clunky software.  Hopefully I’ll get it ironed out in subsequent videos.

Who are you riding with?

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.

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All different skill levels come together.

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.

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Road trip!

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!

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When it’s blurry it looks like you’re going really fast… despite what’s actually happening.

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.

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4 bikes + 4 people + 1 car = an interesting ride up the mountain.

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.

First Timers in Whistler

This is a story about first experiences for two people. When my brother, sister-in-law, and my little niece came out for a visit from Ontario I was super excited. I don’t get to see them very often and especially with the little one growing several inches every time I see her, I relish any time we get to spend together.

For as long as I remember, my big brother was a daredevil. I was definitely the scared one. He would roll down terrifying, rough terrain on his Canadian Tire CCM bike and go back for more. He did back flips into snow piles. He tried out the latest WWE moves on his little sister (ow). He got his motorcycle license and a zippy sports bike. So on this visit I thought I’d introduce him to the wonderful world of mountain biking as I figured it’d be right up his alley.

Because he would have to rent a bike anyway and was worried about a slow, out of shape climb, we made the decision to head to Whistler. Ryan has been to Whistler many times, obviously this was my brother’s first time, and it was also a first time for me. I had heard many things about this mountain biking mecca but was about to see it for myself!

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After an early morning start, we made it up there with no problems. Got Jay (brother) sorted out with a bike and gear and got in line for the lift. Now there were two things that stick very clearly out in my mind about this: one was just how lame I felt being pretty much the only person in a 100 mile radius not wearing a full face helmet. Silly how these things get to you but I was incredibly self-conscious about what I started calling my “loser helmet.” Everyone else looked so bad ass! And me? Well… not so much. But I digress….

The second thing I noticed was my feeling of dread when we got closer and closer to the lift. This was one of the most terrifying things about the whole trip! How do I lift it? What if I can’t lift it? What if I can’t get it in the wheel holder thingie? What if, because of ME, they have to stop the lift to help me get my bike on and everyone’s watching? You would think that as we made a couple of laps this feeling of terror would go down but it definitely did not. Just imagine: you’re headed up on a chair hundreds of feet in the air to throw yourself down a mountain and I’m standing in line just being terrified of embarrassing myself at the lift. Surely I can’t be alone in this.

Despite my panic, we made it up without me falling on my face or grinding everything to a halt. We did a couple of laps of B-Line, a nice, beginner flow trail for my brother to get a taste of what mountain biking is about. I was all jazzed about being “the expert” for once. Thinking I’d be the one to have to keep stopping to let him catch up. Nope! Jay held his own and zipped down the mountain at my heels. It was great but I would’ve appreciated him being just a little bit worse for the benefit of my ego.

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Me and Jay in Whistler

Unfortunately, this was pre-blog days and I didn’t think to take any video, but I have started strapping the GoPro on for rides so there will be ride pictures and videos to accompany my writing going forward. Look forward to some moderate speed fun!

After we tired ourselves out with a few runs, we had a lovely out-of-the-trunk picnic and headed back to the city.

I will be back in Whistler in a couple of weeks and then again for a longer jaunt at the end of June so expect some actual video and pictures. Perhaps we’ll see some skills improving and hopefully I won’t have a story about how I embarrassed myself on the lift.

Miss Pissy Pants

Great nickname, isn’t it? Obviously this one will be one of my finest moments as a human. I’m sure that any women out there will attest to the difficulty of going to the bathroom in the woods. I will never stop looking on with jealousy every time I see a man just casually walk into the woods, stand there for a minute, then come back out. There is no peril of falling down, having everyone see your butt, or covering yourself in your own urine. Its simplicity is something I am deeply jealous of BUT being part of the non-penis owning crowd I have to suck it up and get a bit more creative in the woods.

I would like to note that since this happened, my technique has vastly improved thanks to pointers from a few people (I will absolutely share these pointers and welcome any that you have as well).

So this story begins on an extremely rainy day in Squamish. Ryan (the boyfriend), Laura (my friend from this post), and myself packed up and headed up from Vancouver for a day riding Half Nelson. This was Laura and my first time on the trail (my first attempt at going there since the bear incident… more on that another day) and we were so excited to go that it didn’t matter that it was raining! Since where we were going didn’t have any bathrooms, I packed my trusty Shewee device and some toilet paper. Those of you who aren’t familiar with these, it’s basically a funnel system so women can stand up to pee and not have to drop pants fully down. Every review I read about it told me to get used to it in the shower before taking it out in the real world but I did not heed this advice. “How bad can it be?” I thought. Famous last words….

After quite the hike, we finally got up to the trail head and we were completely soaking wet. Ryan ran off to the woods to relieve himself and I thought I should do the same before we get going again. What a great time to try my new device!

I headed into the woods a little bit and even found a good spot that had a little dip in the dirt so my shoes would be safe. Not wanting to moon the world, I unzipped and tried to get everything in position and started to ‘go’. Now, I don’t want to get into too many details here but the long and short of it is that I didn’t hold it snugly against my body enough and it started overflowing over the top instead of straight out the hose in the front. Panic mode! I tried to attempt to remove it to do a squat but ended up peeing all over myself, stepping into a giant mud puddle/urine combo, and eventually losing balance and falling my butt into the puddle full on. It was a masterpiece of uncoordinated glory. A crowning achievement of grace. I came out of the bush looking sheepish where I had to announce what had happened. After the laughing died down, Laura came up with “Miss Pissy Pants” which I would be known as for the rest of the day.

Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, it was uncomfortable. But these are the moments we can always look back on and laugh. I will tell this story to anyone who will listen. The story is self-deprocatingly hilarious but it’s also a cautionary tale.

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What I have learned is as follows:

1.) The Shewee is a perfectly delightful system but only if you practice with it in the safe space of the shower before you try it in the wild.

2.) Trying to “wash” yourself off by sitting in various puddles throughout the day doesn’t work.

3.) Always bring a change of clothes when you go out riding, even when you think you won’t need them (shout out to Ryan for letting me wear his jeans back home).

4.) If you don’t have a Shewee, just squat down super low to do your business. I thought this would put my shoes in peril but it works extremely well. I’m sure some of you know this already and think I’m an idiot for not knowing but if not, there you go.

5.) Find friends who will laugh WITH you more than laughing AT you.

6.) You get called “Miss Pissy Pants” once and that’s your nickname for life. Tread carefully with what you do as it may stick.