>Check back later this week for a post about my first 50 mile single track training ride.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice
at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
~Mary Anne Radmacher
This past weekend we went on a family XC ride. The kids were bouncing with excitement when we told them. Bear rides in the Wee-hoo and Sage rides her own 20" Specialized Hot Rock.
The ride started out great, taking a very non-technical and flat 1-mile section of trail. After warming up with two laps we headed over to the "hilly section." Bear was excited, it's like riding a sweet roller coaster.
Sage, however, was nervous. I could see in her eyes a battle waging between her wanting to conquer the trail and her growing fear. The feeling must be like trying to push negative sides of a pair of magnets together.
This section starts with a small drop into a narrow single-track. Sage rode out front and I could hear little gasps escape as her bike gained momentum, shooting her down the trail. After managing to navigate some tight turns she stopped cold at the top of the first big drop. She wasn't going to do it. I helped her walk her bike down the hill.
And then, as it usually happens, we had to ride back up a hill. Thirty seconds into the climb and she started complaining that her legs hurt. I bet they did. It's not comfortable cranking a bike that weighs as much as you do uphill.
But we still had a ways to go and we weren't going to walk up every climb. It was time to pass on a secret from mother to daughter, mountain biker to mountain biker, the nugget of wisdom to carry you up any hill gleaned from Jens Voigt: telling your legs to Shut up! I informed her that they even make T-shirts that say "Shut up legs!"She thought that was pretty darn cool. Up the hill she climbed, not complaining once after that.
And then we came to another drop. This one was down a hill and onto a ridge overlooking a river. Sage stopped again. By now the stopping and starting was getting old.
She was frozen with anxiety. We stood there for 15 minutes. I felt helpless watching the tears spill down her cheeks as she internally waged war against her fear.
Me - Just walk your bike.
S - No!
Me - Okay, then ride it.
S - I can't!
Back and forth we went. As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating. I know she can do it but she didn't believe in herself.
Finally we had to go. We had some place we needed be and we couldn't wait any longer. I grabbed her bike, walked it to the nearest safe passage and we took the shortest route back to the trail head—leaving Sage utterly defeated.
I was frustrated and upset. We had spent more time standing around and listening to Sage cry than we did riding. Ugh. I didn't know if I was ever going to take her mountain biking again.
And then I remembered when I first started mountain biking. I was afraid. Still am a lot of times. Mountain biking is scary. Any one of us that has ridden single-track can admit to having a white-knuckled, goose-pimple raising experience.
Sage must have been consumed with fear and anxiety standing at the precipice of that dark, harrowing turn of the trail down the chasm. The drop must have looked really steep, the ridge really narrow, the river really wet and cold.
And yet she was sitting in the backseat of the car asking when we could go mountain biking again.
My Brave-hearted Girl.
The more I thought about it, the more I began to admire Sage. Mountain biking is really scary for her and yet she still wants to do it. Sage doesn't quit. She doesn't let the fear win. She knows in her heart that she will come back and she will conquer that section of trail. If that's not courage then I don't know what is.