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.

A (Literal) Crash Course on Snow Riding

When my boyfriend told me about his traditional Christmas ride my first thought was, “well, we live in Vancouver which doesn’t get a ton of snow. I guess that’s not SO crazy.” After this year’s massive snowfall dump and my silly realization that there is more snow on mountains (I’m from Ontario, I never gave much thought to what happens up there!) it suddenly did seem crazy. But I wanted to try it out!

So on Boxing Day, we packed up our extra warm stuff, a change of clothing (a lesson I learned from another incident which I will write about), and our soon to be snow-covered bikes. That day we went with familiar and decided to head to Fromme to ride Bobsled. Considering the weather, that trail name seemed appropriate.IMG_0007

Because of the time of year, the parking lot was closed so we had to park down on a street and hike it up in the slippery slush and snow. I will take this moment to sing the praises of my shoes, Five Ten Women’s Freeriders. Even though they’re fabric, it took a shockingly long time for my feet to actually get wet.IMG_0022

After the grumpiness kicked in and we finally made it up, it was all downhill from there. Slip sliding, falling over, lots of squeaky noises I didn’t realize I made, tonnes of laughs, and an overall good time. But why take my word for it? This one has a video!

Overall, I was scared to go out, worried that I would lose traction and fall on my face or get seriously hurt. I am so happy that I decided to put the fears aside and try something new. That seems to be a main theme for me in learning this sport: yes it’s scary, do it anyway (within reason). I highly suggest if you get the chance to get out there and poke around in the snow, just don’t take yourself too seriously. Hope to see you all next Christmas ride falling down with me!

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Christmas ride 2016

 

The Bike

Finding a bike was a challenge. After a couple of rides on rentals and deciding that I did actually want to pursue this sport, it was time to find a bike of my own. Naturally, I had a brief flirtation with brand new, shiny bikes. I would look at them online and in stores in all their $5000 glory. Then when I would take them for a short test ride around the block I realized I had absolutely no idea what to look for. The advice I was given was that when you got on the right bike it’ll just “feel right.” Considering I basically hadn’t ridden anything since I was in elementary school, I could barely remember what a bike is supposed to feel like at all, let alone the specifics of geometry.

Then came more questions: hard tail or full suspension? Downhill? Enduro? XC? What are you planning on doing on it? Apparently “ummmm….. ride on trails and stuff?” wasn’t specific enough. Once realizing just how much of an amateur I was and that I really didn’t know what I liked and didn’t like in a bike it was clearly unwise to sink months of salary into it.

I won’t get into the details of my lovely and helpful boyfriend (at the time, just a friend) scouring the PinkBike listings for ages and sending me anything remotely good. I will note that at a towering 5’1″ it was difficult to find something in my size and that felt okay. But then one day, the perfect listing came along.

Enter: the 2010(?) Transition Bottlerocket. Sure it was just a frame with no wheels or grips or a chain. She was a little beaten and bruised around the edges but she was beautiful and the price was definitely right. After borrowing some wheels from a friend and a test ride, I was in love. Pictures were taken and shared on Facebook like I had just given birth or adopted a puppy. Even though I didn’t have the money for parts yet and couldn’t ride it, I still had her sitting there in the living room making me smile.

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Slowly, the pieces fell into place. I got used wheels, a cassette, some grips as a souvenir from a shop in Melbourne, Australia. I learned as I went, asking a million questions, taking everything apart to clean and put back together. I would point at random parts and ask “what’s this called?”, “what’s this?”, “how would I take that off?”  Even when no one was physically around to help I took pictures.

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I got to know my bike inside and out and, because I am a massive dork, I named her too.

So without further ado…. Meet Jenny 5.

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Lady biker? Mountain biker? Female mountain biker?

The inspiration for starting this blog came to me on the side of a mountain, as most good things do. This time I was not on my bike or even out for a hike but was watching a very entertaining compression jump of the enduro bike race that my boyfriend was taking part in. My friend Laura and I sat with the crowd, a small picnic, and enjoyed cheering and heckling the riders as they hit the jump… or didn’t. What stood out about this experience is that there was a woman sitting behind us who every time a female rider came through would excitedly exclaim, “ohhh! It was a girl!!!” Granted, there was a U21 group, but many of these riders were, in fact, full-fledged women. What compounded it was the fact that if one of these “girls” hit the jump really well, she would further yell, “even THAT one was a girl! Wow!”

I try not to be oversensitive, but this was like nails on a blackboard to me and Laura. Why was it so astounding that women can jump too?

I promise this blog will not be preachy about gender rights and equality, this was just the jumping off point that got me thinking about my experiences as a woman who loves to mountain bike. Then, after comparing notes with some male and female bikers I know, I realized that patterns started to come out as far as our experiences go. It seems that there are some fundamental differences between men and women in this sport. I’m not saying that that is good or bad, but I feel like it’s something worth talking about. These are what I’d like to explore a bit more in this blog; my experiences as well as those of other people.

I am also a novice. I rode my first mountain bike about three years ago but really have been only been riding regularly for about the past two. I, in no way, am capable of jumps or drops or completing an enduro race. But I want to get there. In fact, I want to ride the very race that I was watching so many talented men and women complete. So this blog is a few things. It’s some talking points on shared experiences or maybe just some weird experiences I’ve had, it’s some accountability for me to get out and ride because even if no one’s reading this I can say that I’ve ridden and here’s the proof, and it’s also a chance for anyone out there who decides to read see a rank amateur develop. I will post embarrassing videos and pictures showing the ups and downs. I want to see your proud and scary and embarrassing moments as they come. Let’s learn from each other and most important of all: let’s ride bikes!