Sunday, August 28, 2005

Legendary

Jacquie Phelan This weekend I had the true honor of meeting one of mountain biking's greatest legends, Jacquie Phelan - pro racer, founder of WOMBATS , and certainly one of the premiere bike clinic instructors in the country, if not the world. She was holding a bike camp sponsored by Charlotte's own Dirt Divas , which I had the privilege to attend. Jacquie regaled us with amazing and humorous stories, played the banjo and sang original songs, all the while teaching us valuable riding skills and instilling a sense of confidence and trust in ourselves in a lighthearted, supportive and encouraging environment. While I left the clinic with many newfound basic technical skills to practice, I think the most important thing Jacquie gave me today was renewed self-confidence and methods to quiet that pervasive self-deprecating inner voice in favor of treating myself with more kindness and acceptance, giving back the same support and encouragement that has always seemed to come so easily when directed toward others, but up to now I had been unable to turn inward. She was delightfully joyous, enthusiastic and a wealth of information, a treasure to women (and men) everywhere who ride a bike, and I cherish the time spent with her. Endless thanks to the Dirt Divas for sponsoring the clinic, and to Jacquie for all that she is and does.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Acceptance

If I have learned anything from my nearly 44 years on this earth, it is that sometimes the direction our lives take may not be what we intended or expected. When this happens, we have choices. We can either lament the loss of what we thought should be and live in angry sadness about it, try to change it and force it to be what we thought it should, or accept the new direction, embracing the challenges and rewards it may present. After unsuccessfully attempting the two former options, I have elected my best course as a bicyclist is to pursue the latter. Over time, I have come to realize that I am not, as I had attempted to be for many years, a bike racer. While I do love to ride and enjoy greatly the friendships I have made through the events in which I have participated, the act of racing is not where my heart and soul reside. I am not a very competitive person by nature and do not generally enjoy the stress and anxiety of a true "race" atmosphere, both of which severely hinder my capabilities to be very effective at racing and indeed frequently impact negatively on my appreciation of the joy of just riding. What does speak to my own spirit is the simple act of riding my bicycle - just because I enjoy it - and the profound personal knowledge I gain about the individual I am when I ride, particularly for long distances or long periods of time. This is not to say that I will never race again; obviously I will, as there are trails and dear friends that I would not generally get to see were it not for attending certain events. But when I do, I will carefully select those races that particularly appeal to my spirit, and I will view the experience in a very different light than I have over the previous years. This blog entry is not a sad one by any means, however, because rather than being disappointed by this new point of view, I am invigorated, excited and enthusiastic about the new direction in which my bicycling life is turning.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Changes

Riding at New Light A lot has been going on in the past couple of weeks. I've been to see my sports medicine internist who has asked me to use a Shields knee brace for the time-being when riding due to his diagnosis of a patellofemoral tracking syndrome disorder, worse in my right knee. I am also in the meantime using specific stretches and strengthening exercises daily in order to expedite my ability to discontinue use of the brace as soon as possible.

In addition, I've developed an astigmatism in my eyes and recently received new eyeglasses to help with that. I opted for the Transitions lenses which automatically darken in response to UV ray exposure and then lighten back up upon returning inside as I am notorious for forgetting to wear sunglasses. I am amazed at the difference - I can see now! I didn't realize how blurry my vision had become - probably not helped by my working at a computer all day.

Then yesterday while playing with my dog, Spyder, we accidentally bumped heads and his tooth split my cheek, which required a trip to the urgent care center. Fortunately, they elected not to suture it, but just glued the skin back together with Dermabond or something similar and gave me a tetanus shot. Of course, the doctor did tell me that I will have a large scar to always remind me of my dog, and currently the wound does look rather hideous, especially with the skin glue layered over the bloodied and bruised tissues. Hopefully the healing process will be quick.

On a non health related note, I've recently found a really nice group of folks to ride with on Wednesday evenings. The majority of the guys are laidback, casual, very friendly recreational riders. We've been rotating through the local trails each week at an easy pace on nobody-gets-left-behind rides, which has been wonderful for me, since they've been so kind and patient about tolerating my relative slowness and timidity on technical sections, never making me feel like I'm holding them up (even though I'm sure I do most of the time). I've needed a group like this to ride with, especially since I've gotten so discouraged with my racing and training of late with all the confidence-destroying stress I have with that. It's been very pleasant to be able to head to the trails with people who ride simply because they enjoy riding and the companionship of others who just enjoy riding as well, with no competitiveness involved, just good company, lots of laughs and fun times.