Bikes Change Lives : Shasta Webb
When you learn to ride mountain bikes in a community of very talented riders, it’s easy to convince yourself that you suck at riding.
For about a year after I started riding dirt, I felt like a total beginner. I vice-gripped the brakes down most descents, I tipped over pretty much every ride, and I’d walk my bike on areas I thought were too technical.
After a while, even though I had made a bit of progress, I still felt like a helpless novice. So, naturally, when a co-worker at Epicenter encouraged me to try riding Berm Reynolds, a trail several degrees of difficulty beyond my comfort zone, my initial reaction was incredulity. In my mind I was still at bunny hill level. But with some coaxing, my mindset shifted. Maybe I could try it. I might be slow, I reasoned, but every trail is worth a try.
So, with two co-workers leading the way, I attempted Berm, and it was fairly disastrous.
Unaccustomed to sharp, wall-ridey turns, I rode off the trail several times. I psyched myself out before steep chutes and awkwardly clambered down them on foot. I approached small booters and slammed my brakes on right before them. All in all, it was a C minus at best. Returning back to work that day, I felt I had let myself down.
I resolved to try it again.
A few weeks later I went back. I was anxious the entire ascent, replaying in my mind the features of the trail I could remember. I told myself to stay calm, lay off the brakes, and follow my friend’s line.
When we dropped into the top portion of the trail, I felt like I was in a trance. I looked ahead, quieted my mind, and rode the trail without thinking. When we stopped about halfway down, I was blown away at how much better I was riding. Deep breaths, a looser grip, and some encouragement had completely changed my experience. When I made it through the lower section of trail unscathed, I knew I had left behind many of the doubts that plagued me before. I had overcome my fear, and I finally saw how far my riding had come.