Now that my back is starting to feel better, I’ve been exploring more on my bike. In addition to riding new routes, I’m also riding with some new people (aka every ride isn’t by myself or just with Jason). Since biking is a relatively new passion for me, I’ve always felt a little self conscious riding with other people. My technical skills are very much in the “development” phase and, while I’m strong, I’m cautious on the downhills which makes me somewhat slow. Jason is the most patient person in the whole world and doesn’t make me feel like I’m holding him up. I’ve always been nervous that others wouldn’t be so patient. Boy was I wrong!
A couple of weekends ago I headed up to Centennial Cone above Golden for a Bell Joy Ride. Bell Joy Ride is all about getting ladies on mountain bikes, and splits the group up into intermediate/advanced, beginner plus, and beginner. Although everyone who rode with me had some experience riding bikes, there are some Bell Joy Rides where participants have never ridden a bike, and they get to learn in a safe, welcoming environment.
When I signed up for the ride over a month before it happened, I assumed my back would be fine and I would be back to riding like I normally do. Things have a way of working out different than you planned, and the Bell Joy Ride ended up being my first real ride on a bike outside. Needless to say I was happy to join the Beginner Plus group for a shorter ride.
We ended up riding up to the top of Centennial Cone and back for a little over 5 miles and almost 600 feet of elevation gain. There were also some tight switchbacks and rock gardens for us to practice our technical skills. Afterwards we celebrated with healthy snacks and beers while soaking in the heat of the almost 100-degree day!
The Bell Joy Ride gave me so much confidence that I convinced Jason that we should head up to Rollins Pass the following day. All I knew about the ride was that it followed a jeep road for most of the way and was rated beginner/intermediate. We made it up 5.5 miles before turning around because the trail was really rocky and I didn’t want to push my back too much. Rocks on Hellga, especially downhill, are really jarring thanks to the big tires and lack of suspension. The ride was fun but I was glad we didn’t push it any farther.
The weekend after was filled with the Leadville Marathon (I made it 6.2 miles total and didn’t stress my back out!) and helping Jason’s bro and sis move in to their new house. Needless to say we didn’t get in any mountain biking. Which was 100% because my legs were surprisingly sore for the two rides!
After a weekend off, I was ready to hit the trails hard last weekend. Jason and I had plans to head down to Buffalo Creek for a Qloom Ride sponsored by one of my fellow ambassadors, Gabriela. Jason ended up working so I went down by myself. The ride was AMAZING! Although there were some pretty rocky sections that made me feel like I was on a jackhammer, most of the trail was smooth, flowy fun. I even rode down some big rocks that I wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t following Gabriela. The boys took off but luckily Gabriela and I were about the same speed (although she has more skills than I do) and spent the day riding together. Once again, we concluded the ride with snacks and beer. What more could you ask for?
After a relatively big day on Saturday, I woke up ready for another big day on Sunday. Jason and I had afternoon plans, so we woke up early for a ride on our home loop, the Dirty Bismarck. The flowers have been blooming like crazy above our house so I just knew they had to be good on the Dirty Bismarck too. Jason brought my camera (aka his old camera) and took lots of pictures of me riding in the flowers. I was in HEAVEN! The ride was great and, even with all the photos stops, I managed to snag a PR on the loop. I guess my bike fitness is coming back fast!
Although I will never give up my “alone time” on the bike, or the bike dates that Jason and I go on, I’m starting to appreciate riding with other people, especially other women. These rides reinforced that sentiment in me and reminded me that I’m actually an OK mountain biker. I shouldn’t be embarrassed to ride with other people, even if I can’t keep up.