Conclusions: The Smell

This tale starts off in a romantic whirlwind. I had just finished riding and, after dropping my bike off at home, went straight to Ryan’s house. I hadn’t changed yet and was sporting my usual shorts and whatever shirt I had clean at the moment. He pulled me in close for an embrace… looked deeply into my eyes and said something I’ll always remember:

“You should write about how all your riding clothes stink all the time now.”

Ah, young love…

While not exactly tactful, he did have a point. I had a grand total of two sports bras and two pairs of shorts and I definitely did not have time to be washing them every day or every other day. Let alone how wasteful that would be water-wise just to wash those items. That led to a kind of.. well you could call it a build up. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I couldn’t wash my pads because they needed to hang to dry and where I live is too damp for them to dry within a day.

So I embarked on a journey of de-stinkifying myself. Of course I was showering like crazy and I, personally, was not smelly but the minute my gear went on you could smell me from a mile away. Eyes watered and dogs scattered.

I googled how to get rid of permasmells on clothing and came across several things saying I should soak my clothes in white vinegar. I did this with my beloved Sombrio jersey and then soaked it in detergent and then washed it in more. The result: a now vinegarry perma-BO. It was even more glorious than before! This was definitely a side effect that I didn’t even consider when starting my 45 day journey and it ended up being one that really got to me. Even my CamelBak backpack stank! It was an olfactory awakening and a clear indication that perhaps I should buy some more gear if I’m going to ride that often.

Luckily, I can report, that since then I have managed to de-stinkify my clothing. It took numerous washings with long pre-wash soaking periods in detergent to get them back to normal but at least I didn’t lose any of my favourite pieces to such an unworthy cause.

What about you? Anyone else have smell problems? Any amazing solutions out there?

Conclusions: The Skills

One of the biggest things that I was hoping to notice at the end of 45 days was an increase in skill. I was worried I may come out the other end still having the same struggles and not having progressed at all. How much is natural ability (that I may or may not have) and how much is practice and training? To help myself out in this regard, I took every chance I could to learn. I asked questions about skills and lines, watched ‘how-to’ videos, I rode with some awesome folks, I spent hours working on a single skill some days, and I even took classes. There were a few days for sure when I would just ride to get my ride done and move on. Something easy on my mind and body. But most of the time I continued to challenge myself with new skills and new trails.

If you recall, I took a video of my first day on this challenge with the intention of filming the same trails on the last day. I was at Coast Gravity Park on the last day so this ended up being Day 46 instead of 45. I think the idea is still the same.

As far as timing goes, I shaved 20 seconds off of my Bobsled run and a whopping 1 minute and 7 seconds off of Floppy Bunny.

So how do I feel? Did I progress? Did I progress enough to feel like it was all worth it? I have to say absolutely. In these 45 days I’ve learned (at a basic level) how to jump, do manuals, bunny hops, and started on drops. I’m way more confident on bikes in general (“less squirrley” is what my friend Bryan called it), my stamina is way better, and I achieved things with ease that I couldn’t even THINK about doing before.

Did I achieve everything I wanted to? No. I was determined to be able to do drops by the end so I could do the wooden drop on Floppy Bunny but it was just too high risk and I wasn’t getting it fast enough to risk it just for the “after” video. I will continue to work on drops, however, and hopefully will have figured them out by next summer.

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A lot of my progression came from “just ride your bike” for sure, but I think that if I had not been so curious and wanting to learn I may not have achieved as much as I did. Actively seeking out information about the skills you want to learn is definitely the best way to do it. You get the benefit of many peoples’ years of experience. Their trails and errors. So no matter what your level, never stop being curious. To those experienced riders who rode with me or just met me on the trail and put up with my questions, thank you! Never forget, we were all beginners once.

Conclusions: The Injuries

Ever been in the shower or getting changed and look down at a part of your body and think, “how did I get that giant bruise? Wouldn’t I remember an impact big enough to cause that?!” So have I. In fact, this past month and a half new bruises, scrapes, and bumps have been showing up on the daily and most of them I have no idea where they came from. There have been some exceptions.

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I have, overall, been lucky (*knock wood*) in this journey. I didn’t take any massive spills, break anything, require stitches, and my “never had a nosebleed” record is still intact. While I did take a few tumbles, I was always able to walk away a little wiser and with a couple of scrapes.  Even those around me learned some lessons like when I say to Ryan, “hey can you go behind me with the GoPro?  There’s a jump I’m going to try to clear!” he should ask which jump any why I think I’ll be able to clear it.

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A big worry of mine when starting my 45 days was that I would injure myself partway through and not be able to finish. Luckily, this was not the case for me. When you watch videos of races and professionals you can see the tumbles that they take and you hear the extent of their injuries. Hell, even Ryan has broken his femur! It makes for quite the wake up call in terms of how dangerous this sport can be and I keep that at the back of my mind whenever I think about doing something a little dodgy. Sometimes we need to be brave to conquer something we’re scared of, but we never need to be reckless and stupid.

So, while I’m certain I’ll continue to get knocked around, I hope that my injuries will remain bumps and bruises and not needing a trip to the ER. I haven’t broken any bones yet and I will certainly try to keep it that way. Be safe, everybody!

Conclusions: The Tan

We’ll start on a lighthearted note here. Out of all the unintended repercussions of this 45 day journey, this one is arguably the most ridiculous. It’s something I’ve teased others for in the past but got a whole heap of karma sent my way. That is: the tan.

I’ve never been one to be very sunscreen-minded. Especially living in the Pacific Northwest when we get way more rain than sun. But even when it’s cold and cloudy those UV rays are out there and ready to toast you up. This experienced has definitely made me rethink how often I’m putting sunscreen on.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking “oh, Sarah, you just got a bit of colour. What’s so bad about a tan?” Let me tell you! All of my time outside was spent with very specific equipment on. The result? The craziest tan lines ever! I have a lovely line from T-shirt sleeve to the top of my elbow pad. Then on my forearm from elbow down to glove. Did I mention my elbow pads are slanted on the forearm? Yeah, I didn’t notice that either.

The best part is yet another thing I didn’t notice which is the keyhole in my gloves near the thumb. That has resulted in a spectacular and symmetrical tan dot on each hand. When I first noticed them I thought I’d gotten a very strange bruise on both of my hands. Nope! Attack of the tan lines.

So when you’re headed out there, put on your sunscreen, even if it looks cloudy out. Not only will it protect you from ridiculous tan lines but, more importantly, it’ll protect you from the more serious consequences of sun exposure. Happy trails, folks!