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Time In The Saddle–25 years!

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I remember the first time I saw someone riding their bike up a dirt trail, I thought they were crazy, “who would want to do that?”

A few years later, I was crazy because I wanted to do that! This year marks 25 years Mountain Biking in The Santa Monica Mountains!

The very first ride was on borrowed bikes. We didn’t know how to change a flat and we certainly didn’t have the tools to do it.

After 3 flats in one day and driving back and forth to the bike shop, we finally finished our first ride. It was Sycamore Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park—a trail system that goes from the Pacific Ocean all the way to The Conejo Valley–a vast amount of space, deep with connector trails, singeltrack trails, and wide fire roads.

You can spend a whole day here!

Oh the places we’ve been able to see! (naturegirltara.com)

I’ll never forget my first year of riding, I entered the California Mountain Bike Challenge. There were 7 races throughout the State and I just kept crashing! I was a good climber but I didn’t have any racing experience and I wasn’t real polished in my technical skills on the downhills.  I have many scars to prove it!

I asked my competitor, “how do you stay on your bike, I keep crashing!” Her reply has been a theme for my life ever since. She said, “IT’S JUST TIME IN THE SADDLE.”

Time In The Saddle! naturegirltara.com

IT’S JUST TIME IN THE SADDLE!

Apparently, she had been riding for six years and was racing in the beginner category (not cool). She knew from experience that it’s not easy for anyone who takes on Mountain Biking as a sport.

I wanted to be great NOW and not have to go through the process of riding more to be great! Alas, everything in life is a process, time in the saddle. I learned to embrace the sentiment.

It was never an easy sport. There were days we would ride up Puerco Canyon in Malibu–it was steep! We would throw our bikes down sweating profusely, swearing!

It’s true, everything is a process. So going through it is a necessity in order to embrace it and maintain it.

Thank you for the light that shines behind me!

I came in third overall in that California Mountain Bike Challenge (1995) and I realized that I am not a competitive racer girl!  From then on,  I vowed to ride for the JOY of it!

Yep, sure enough it did take some time in the saddle. Even for the JOY of it!

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!!!”

Years later, I was able to help two men on the side of Pacific Coast Highway who had a flat and were unprepared. Clearly, they were in the place I was all those years ago when I knew nothing and was not prepared to fix a flat on my own. It felt good to give back!

Today I rode on the same trail system where I rode frequently back in the day. A smile was pasted on my face!

There’s something about it, when you get up there and there is no one around, sounds of bees, birds and trees blowing in the wind. It is certainly a meditative, transformative experience. Being out in the day and feeling all the joys of life in nature!

My ego is no longer involved. I’m not out to prove anything. If I’m feeling unsure about descending a new trail, I easily step off my pedals and walk down the trail. On a good day though, I’m quite competent! I can fly down most trails and I can pedal up any trail.

Mountain biking is my friend but I had to take the time to nurture that friendship. I couldn’t just start out being competent, I had to earn it.

The same is true with any physical practice you take on. Yoga is my friend as well, it pulls me into the present moment, just like being out on the trail.

If you suffer from being in your head too much and most of your friends are busy or far away (like mine), take on an activity that fills you up with joy and a sense of empowerment.

I believe our bodies are our best friends. Sometimes we put them last in line but your body is your friend. Feed it with activities that nourish you.

My friends, when I do get to interact with them, feel like these physical forces. They are a force of validation and aliveness. I’ve never been the friend who has to have somebody with me for exercise, so glad because without my physical practices, I’d be very alone since most of them are far far away!

I am so grateful for my physical friends and that I’ve taken the time and YEARS to nurture the physical practices that make me feel ALIVE even without them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Today June 9, 2019–Trailer Canyon in Pacific Palisades , CA
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Euphoria

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“I am this trail.  I am these trees.  I am this rain. I am this breeze”.

These are the words I would repeat in my mind in an effort to take the pain in my knee away!

I was at about mile 2 of the Tough Topanga 10K when my Tensor Fasciae Latae seized up and made my knee throb in pain.  This is a hard,  tendinous muscle and when it’s tight, the  knee tracks incorrectly.

I knew that it was simply a tight tendon and I could calm it down later–I was determined to finish the race without walking, so I kept running through it.

BackboneBuldge

I decided, with all I’ve learned about the power of the mind,  I would put this to the test!

As a hiking guide, I tell this tip to many people who are having a hard time getting up the hill.  The mind chatter can sometimes take you down and,  I’ve discovered, there is a way up and around  all that discouraging chatter!

Instead of focusing on the pain, I turned my attention to the present moment and began my mental mantras to keep me there.

I AM THIS TRAIL

I AM THESE TREES

I AM THIS RAIN

I AM THIS BREEZE

I finished the run with ease.  Sure, I still had some pain but I didn’t feel it while I was running.

Fast forward about 2 months later and 20 miles up the coastline, I’m training a client at the Malibu Gym when one of the members asks, “hey Tara, did you run the Tough Topanga 10K back in May?”

Tough 10K.jpg

YES I DID.

Trust

He continued, “I was the person at the finish line clicking all the times.  Of all the people I saw cross that finish line, you looked absolutely EUPHORIC–truly at EASE.”

Wow, how about that!

Even though I was in pain, I was able to take myself to my only point of power and be fully present.  I crossed the finish line looking euphoric and serene because I was in a vortex of energy in its most powerful form–the present moment!

There is something so amazing when you live in the present moment.  Magic and miracles happen there, I’m going to be hanging out HERE more often!