Words: Diana Sjol
When you come to a fork in the road, how many paths do you see? Some see two and may choose the path of least resistance while others will choose the path that will test their limits. Some will only see one path, the easy path. Then there are those that only see the hard line, the path that will test their strength, a lonely road where despair lurks but the outcome is glorious.
After a disappointing cyclocross season I knew it was time to face some fears and get on a mountain
bike, for me this was no longer a choice but something that had to be done. My problem? I was scared. Everything about mountain biking scared me. Steep, technical, rocky single track wasn’t for me.
In March I bought my first mountain bike, a 28 pound steel Kona. I hated it! It was heavy, it forced me
out of my happy place. I got in a couple of rides on familiar fire roads before signing up for my first
mountain bike race that same month. I went out and pre rode the course the day before the race and I was freaking out. The course took me through rocky and technical single track along some mountainside cliffs. I was sure I was going to die. After that ride I couldn’t imagine ever riding those trails on my cross bike and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to race the next day. It was an unfamiliar fear because I’ve mostly avoided trails like these and now they were hitting me smack in the face. That whole night I had to reassure myself that I could do it, I could ride the trails, and I would race.
The next morning I did just that. I raced three whole laps that tested my strengths, weaknesses, and
fears. Looking back, I know this race is where everything began to change for me. I went from someone who was afraid and didn’t even want to race mountain bikes, to racing three laps on a course I never would have imagined doing before.
Since that first race I have continued to test myself and have ridden trails and overcome fears I honestly didn’t think I ever would or could. Reflecting on all my accomplishments these past few months, I know they have stemmed from a desire to be a greater athlete than I was. Along the way, there have been plenty of frustrations, cuts, bruises, and setbacks, and I’m certain there will be many more in the future. But I’m okay with that.
Be relentless in your pursuit for greatness.