To be on the other side of a huge challenge FEELS GREAT!  Whatever the challenge you are taking on, just know that it will be a process…everything in life is a process.  Some things happen really fast and some take a significant amount of time.  For me, the key has been to enjoy the process and not resist it.

Be willing to be bad at something before you can be good at it!

After 18 years of mountain biking, I can say I went through quite a process.  I kept moving forward and when I ride these days, I am usually in a state of mastery and empowerment. These are a few of the comments I heard today while climbing up the steep fireroad on my bike:  “I’m impressed”,  “Wow, I give you credit”,  “That looks way harder than hiking up the hill”…

Yes, they are right, MOUNTAIN BIKING IS HARD!  I remember the first person I saw on a mountain bike.  I was out hiking on Bulldog Trail in Malibu State Park…I thought the guy was absolutely INSANE.  I said to Sean (my husband at the time),

“what kind of person would WANT to do that?”

Not long after that, we became the kind of people who WANTED to do that.  The first ride we ever took was on borrowed bikes.  We put forth the effort and drove up the coast to Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon).  We started riding and the bike Sean was riding got a flat.  We didn’t know how to change a flat, so we drove back down the coast to the bike shop and had them fix it (40 minute drive round trip).  Once back on the trail, the tire flatted AGAIN!  We drove back again and the mechanic found the original source of the problem…we drove back up the coast and finally rode the bikes on the trail.

Obviously, on that first ride we were tested and we met the challenge of the test. 

In those early days, riding some of the steepest hardest trails in Malibu, I can vividly remember both of us throwing our bikes down, sweating profusely and swearing!  It was hard!  There was something about that “hard” that was appealing and it just kept drawing us out into it.

We kept at it, kept training and learning all the trails in our backyard.  After a year, we decided we wanted to RACE.  We did The California Mountain Bike Challenge…a series of 7 races throughout California.  Sean did great and loved the competition.  I did okay (3rd overall) but hated the competition.

We both crashed a lot in those early days and we have a myriad of scars to prove it! 

As much as we crashed, we just kept getting back on the bike and riding.  I remember asking one of my competitors (I always passed her up the hills and she always flew by me down the hills), “how do you stay on your bike, I just keep crashing”?  She said, Tara, your bike likes speed–you just have to let go and let it ride.”

Then she said something that rings in my head regularly… “it’s just time in the saddle.”

At the time, I hated hearing that because that meant that I had to put the time in —  I couldn’t just get there!  I had to go through the challenges and the struggles and the fears of riding and crashing and winning and losing.

I must say that was one of those defining moments in life….”time in the saddle”.  I later found out she’d had 6 years of experience–she was sandbagging it racing in the beginner category. I was a true beginner and just had to face the fact that I had to get some time in the saddle.

Well, I have put 18 years in the saddle now.

After that first year of racing, I decided I just wanted to ride for the JOY of it!

I kept taking on challenges though.  There were a few trails that I always avoided because they were really technical and I just didn’t want to deal with crashing.  I decided to talk a new mantra…”my strength is the place where fear once lived”.

“I am capable, I am competent, I am worthy.”  Those are the words I would speak silently inside my mind while I forced myself to take on that trail.

I can say now, today, that I have MASTERED MOUNTAIN BIKING!   Well maybe not to the degree and difficulty some would ride at, but for my own journey and satisfaction.  Discipline, sticktuitiveness, and consistency is what brought me to this place I now sit.  Knowing that all of it is a process and it’s just time in the saddle makes it all worthwhile.

So many aspects of riding has evolved for me — I can now change a flat…anywhere, anytime.

I took the time to learn how to change a flat instead of waiting for some guy to cross my path and fix it for me!  

That, alone, was a major challenge.  A couple of the guys were just so insistent that they change my flat.  I had to be really forceful and firm, “I learned how to change flats and now I have to practice.  PLEASE, let me change my own flat”!!!

In time, I was  in the position (my girlfriend and I) to stop and change the flat of two guys on the other side of the road.

They were new to the cycling world and I changed his tire.  Ahh, the vision is still fresh in my mind– that felt great and I have evolved.  It has been a process and the lesson for me is…if you really want to get somewhere, you have to put your time in.  We can’t just expect to be there, we have to earn it and pave the way for ourselves.

Unfortunately, for many people, quitting is the preferred option.  It is just easier to quit than to keep moving forward.  Knowing what I know today… “A Winner Never Quits and a Quitter Never Wins.”  Go take something on and if you expect to win, you will.  Even if it does take time, stay in the game, ENJOY THE PROCESS and you too will be on the other side of This Challenge!

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