Musings of a Fatty ~ Recap of a Great Progressive Year!
By Betsy Williford
Progression, it’s how we measure whether we are getting better at something we are passionate about. If we don’t feel like we are progressing, moving forward, it can be hard to want to go ride. Right? I think it’s human nature to want to do well and feel good about what we can do. No one wants to be stuck in a frustrating rut!
As the year is quickly winding down (man it went by TOO fast!) I find myself sitting down and taking stock of notable achievements. What made this year so good? How did I push myself? How did I succeed? Fail? What did I learn? And most importantly, did I have FUN?
I’ll share a few highlights of my year because I hope that maybe I can INSPIRE someone else to get out there and push your own boundaries. I’ve finally learned never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. We grow when we do. We are always capable of more than you think you are! If I can do it, anyone can!
My biggest highlight is racing. Rookie year. I did four, that’s right, FOUR whole races! All on my fatty. Why is this a BIG deal? Uh because I’ve never raced mtb competitively in my life! I’m 38 years old and a total noob! And because the racing scene can be totally intimidating for noobs! I first got my brave on when I joined a social mtb team early in the year and their big supported race of the year is always the Beti Bike Bash. I had heard over and over, it’s the perfect race to try if you’ve never raced before. This year a fat bike category was added. So duh, of course, I was convinced at that point. I signed up. I raced. And I had a blast! I crushed my previous Strava times on the course and I made the podium for the first time ever. Third place! Not too shabby, though it being a small field of six racers probably had a lot to do with it, I’m sure.
I pushed myself again, twice more, completely out of my comfort zone and raced two Winter Park Epic Singletrack series races. Same as the Beti Bike Bash, the WP series added a fatty category this year. I blindly decided to give it a whirl. First race I did, I was just super happy and proud of myself that I FINISHED. These races are tougher with longer distances (between 18-25+ miles) bigger / tougher climbs and at higher altitude. The first race I did, I was one of two females racing our bigger tire / heavier steeds compared to all the other zippitty racers on their nice and light full suspension racing rigs. The second race I did, I was the only female fatty racing. Again, at race two, I was thrilled to have finished and felt I was able to race faster than the previous race. My own goal reached.
My last race of the year was another brand new experience. On a whim I signed up the day before to race in the fatty category at the Rattler Cross, a cyclocross style race. I had never done, or even spectated, such an event so I had very little idea of what to expect. I learned I would be racing as hard as I could for a full 35 minutes, I would have obstacles to go over and a sand pit to go through. Sounds fun, I think? Sufferfest! This one was intense and super fun. I started the race and saw my new teammate of a new racing team I joined for 2018 take the hole shot. So I decided I wanted to pace myself behind her until I felt comfortable enough to take my own pace. I stayed right behind her as we did the first lap and as we went into the sand pit to start lap two I felt comfortable enough to pass her and take the lead. I pedaled full fury for the next three laps and took first. The quick YouTube schooling I did the day before on how to dismount and remount my bike effectively at obstacles paid off! And I rode through the sand pit every time without having to dismount which was awesome! This race was the pinnacle for me this season because I could really see tangible results of a great year of riding. I was strong and fast which are both new attributes of my riding!
So, at the beginning of the year, having never raced before and having finished four races and having felt improvements after each race, I am EXCITED about those achievements. It is a huge reward for me to see what I am capable of doing if I just try. Confidence builders. I’m definitely looking forward to racing next year! We’ll see what shakes out!
Another big highlight for me this year was the sheer number of NEW trails I explored. All on my own. I counted and it was upwards of 40+ new trails / areas! Wow! I also took trails that I purposely avoided because they scared me either for technical factor or fitness factor (Apex, White Ranch) and I made myself just try them. At my own pace and comfort level. No expectations. Much to my surprise those trails are now in my mix of regular go to rides!
Lastly, these notable achievements put a big smile on my face. There are several big techy rock sections at various trails (NTM, Lair O the Bear, White Ranch, Box O Rocks at Green Mountain and more) that I used to ALWAYS get off my bike and walk down. Now each and every one of them I have cleaned. And each and every time I do, I ride away cheesin’ real big and giving myself mad props for how far I’ve come. What used to scare me no longer does. Maybe next year’s goal will be to clean them all going up. Maybe.
The fun part of having a great progressive year is not only when you recognize what you’ve achieved but it’s even sweeter when others see it and comment. My dear hubby has made several comments about my riding and how proud he is of me. I’ve also had one or two people that I really look up to in the mtb world drop huge compliments about where I am now versus where I was even a year ago. That’s the cherry on top of a Fat-tastic year.
As the year draws to a close I am anxiously looking forward to next year. Constantly pacing the house, stopping to scribble endless notes on what goals I should set for the next year. It’s fun! I love to dream of things I want to see myself accomplish. How about you? How was your year? What did you do to push your own boundaries and see that you really can do something you didn’t think you could? Leave a comment and share! But most of all, remember to just ENJOY the ride!
Ps- I forgot to share a fail. I had a mega one. In all my excitement of crushing it on a ride one day at Apex, I had a split second guard down kind of moment totally bite me in the butt. Coming in hot down the gut I totally had my first endo. Lesson learned.. never get too cocky or you will pay :)