WHY I WENT FAT... ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY IN MOUNTAIN BIKING
By Betsy Williford
I don't know about other ladies, but mountain biking, in Colorado, didn't exactly come easy for me. I'd say I'm an average Jane, fairly athletic and some outdoor sports come pretty natural to me. My start in mtb'ing was several moons ago. I grew up in Indiana and my first mountain bike was a full suspension Trek Fuel EX that, seriously, had to weigh like 50 pounds! My local trails that I rode were mostly mellow singletrack with few techy sections, if any. Or paved greenway trails, obviously requiring zero handling skills. And in case none of you knew, Indiana is flat. Very flat. We didn't have drastic elevation changes or big extended climbs on every freaking ride. Except maybe down in southern Indiana, which I only ventured down there to ride maybe once or twice in my life. Even there, I don't remember anything more than a few hundred feet vert! During my early days, I only knew of a few local trail options close to home. It's not like we had MTBproject.com back then! So, getting out and finding new places to ride was a bit more challenging. Plus at that time, I wasn't really into it as much as I was into other things like snowboarding, wakeboarding or climbing. Mountain biking was something I mildly dabbled in.
"Once introduced to mountain biking in a setting like Colorado, I had a love / hate relationship with the sport."
That all changed in 2010, the year I met the guy I would later marry. When we were dating, we took a long weekend trip that August to Boulder and stayed with his brother. That weekend we rode a mixed bag of trails. I remember them, my first taste of Colorado mountain biking. We hit Boulder Valley Ranch, Betasso, a private trail in Ned and did a day of downhill at Winter Park. I got whupped. I came home with more bruises than I ever had before. And yes, looking back, I now know those were the EASY front range trails! Despite the struggles I must have liked it enough because from that point on we started making annual trips out. But little did I know, my journey into mountain biking REAL trails in Colorado was about to get even more interesting.
My initiation into more Colorado riding consisted of being given a bike, thrown on a trail in Crested Butte (or Fruita), usually WAY above my skill level, and left to try not kill myself all while trying my hardest not to slow my guides down (That's what I get for having a brother and sister in law who race, and a competitive minded husband!). Once introduced to mountain biking in a setting like Colorado, I had a love / hate relationship with the sport. Too many times I ended rides with cursing, bloody cuts and bruises everywhere, a time or two of panicked and mentally exhausted crying and overall (temporary) resolve that I will NEVER ride again! I suck at it! I can't ride anything well out here! I can't handle the climbs, I sure can't handle a lot of the technical and rocky terrain! I'm a disaster on the trail, super prone to the dumbest wrecks! But here I am, seven years later and still riding.
How'd that happen?!
The game changer happened a few years ago. We were back in CB (short for Crested Butte, as you guys probably already knew) again. That year the brother in law had added a fatbike to his quiver. One afternoon my husband and I had his parents watch our toddler daughter while we went out for a locals loop ride. We took the fatbike. My husband started out riding it and once we were midway through our ride, we traded.
"I ultimately went fat and love being a fatty because I feel like a kid again."
Right then my world changed. For a person who is very challenged on the bike, suddenly I couldn't stop smiling! I didn't feel like I was driving a finicky race car through a minefield of house sized obstacles anymore. I was driving a friggen tank! All those obstacles suddenly became less intimidating. I could roll over anything! My eyes lit up and I could not stop smiling! I refused to trade back the rest of that ride. I LOVED it instantly.
From that point on, I developed a longing to someday get my own fatbike and change my niche of riding. It took another year to finally get my own bike again. Unfortunately, it wasn't the long sought after fatbike yet but I was close. Last spring I landed a Cannondale Beast of the East 27.5 plus. With the 3.0 tires I gained way more confidence in my riding and in turn enjoyed it enough to want to ride more. Last Christmas we finally pulled the trigger and added a fatty to our household. I can't promise you I didn't do a happy dance when that happened!
Since then I've finally gotten my very own beloved 9zero7 fatty that fits me and me only, no more sharing. All is well in my world of riding.
I ultimately went fat and love being a fatty because I feel like a kid again. Riding is FUN again. I WANT to do it. And we all know, the more you ride the better you get over time. I know that not everyone cares for a fatbike, but if you've never actually ridden one...beware, it might surprise you how fun it is!
Whatever your style, just get out and enjoy your ride!