ENOUGH TIME HAS PASSED, I’M FINALLY READY TO SHARE THIS VIDEO WITH THE WORLD

Frequently, life happens while we are making other plans. As a result, improvisation is key. No one is living the fantasy life that they portray, we are all feeling our way in the dark. Some times are darker than others. To keep it real, I’d like to share one of my most visually observable dark days with you. Warning, this content is graphically disturbing.
 

Video Credit: Jeff Kerkove
 
It was my first year signing with the prestigious Luna Pro Team in 2012. My fresh season came to a screeching halt at the Beti Bike Bash when my front wheel unexpectedly fell off, going over a water bar on a high speed section of the course. I was knocked out instantly. I was transported to the hospital in an ambulance and regained consciousness in the hospital. Having head trauma is no joke. My whole face was bloody and thoroughly ground-scuffed and my lips were shredded and one eye was swollen shut. Even when I came to, I was extremely disoriented and only remember a significant feeling of helplessness and discomfort all over. Not wanting to complain because I recognized I was a bit out of sorts, I told the nurse that my eye was slightly scratchy, she kindly explained to me, for the 4th or 5th time, with the patience of a saint, “I’m sure it is dear, you were in a bad bike crash today and you landed on your face”. I said, unconvincingly, “it’s just really scratchy…” Eventually, she pulled my eyelid up and removed an entire teaspoonful of dirt that was trapped underneath. I hit the ground so hard and quick I didn’t even have time to close my eyes.
 
I was so lucky that my boyfriend and parents were at the race, saw the crash from across the field, and stayed by my side the entire time. This was particularly helpful as I was being asked questions in the hospital to assess my cognitive function. Questions like. “how are you feeling and are you a member of a religious group?” To which I replied, “Tis but a flesh wound” and “Pastafarianism”. I don’t remember these communications, but that was the moment when everyone present knew I was going to be alright and, despite my physically battered condition, my biting sarcastic personality had not been damaged.
 
The longer road to recovery was the next month and the whole next year. I don’t remember the entire month of June from 2012. I would have hour-long phone conversations with people and then call them back again the next day, saying I wanted to catch up. I was mentally fuzzy and had short-term memory issues for many months. Riding bikes well again was it’s own challenge. One of my saving graces was not having any memory of the crash which meant I didn’t have the psychological road block of fear of the incident to overcome, but I had other issues.
 
My first race back was the Mountain Bike National Championships in Sun Valley, ID. I had just started getting back on the bike a couple weeks prior and was still not myself. During the race I remember having only one speed. I couldn’t dig deep or push my limits or event try to be competitive. My body put the brakes on and kept me at a causal, social trail ride pace the entire race. I gained a great deal of appreciation for the intuitive, physical knowledge of my body. It was relearning to trust my mental judgment and I was learning to trust it’s healing process, it sounds compartmentalized but that is exactly how it felt. I eased into the rest of my season strategically and patiently.
 
Head injuries are scary and weird and really shine a light on how fragile we truly are. Though I have continued to have many crashes since the Beti “Face Bash” in 2012, I have not gone through a similar dramatic concussion since. But I am more at risk and even small crashes freak me out. Risk is inherent in my sport but I do not take my safety and body for granted and I do my best to protect myself. I plan to ride mountain bikes long into my old age.
 

HAPPY SUNSHINE!

 

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of delight. Sometimes when it rains it pours and when its sunny the sunshine just won’t go away.

 

My 2nd race of the season was the Moab Scott Enduro Cup. We had spectacular weather, a little hot for pre-riding but the perfect calm cloudiness for race day. I love getting out into the desert, it has a gentle calm to it that feels like a sanctuary away from life’s chaos. I also got to camp with my parents which was a huge bonus! I suffered a mechanical during the race, which turned my bike into a single speed in the hardest gear for 75% of the race. It was interesting how it forced me to ride more efficiently and carry my momentum to make it up short climbs with as much momentum as possible. I also was so humbled by the incredible amount of support and help other racers, friends, strangers and competitors offered me to ensure that I finished. I still ended up in 4th and was pretty happy with the process.

 

Following Moab, I had a little down time at home before jumping into the event coordination process for the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder, put on by The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. They graciously brought me on board to help with the event and it was a perfect fit that has now transformed into a long-term relationship in an Even Coordinator position. I’m happily learning the ropes for the other amazing events they put on. Downieville Classic up next!

 

Early June, I hit the road again and had 2 jam-packed weeks of travel in 3 different locations.

 

I attended the 2nd Scott Enduro Cup in Angel Fire, NM and had a blast racing the back country and the challenging bike park to finish in 3rd. I flew back to Reno for less than 24hrs and drove up to Bend, OR the next day to race the infamous “Blitz”, complete with insanely awesome trails, the gap jump onto the golf course, beer chugging for the finish and arm wrestling. The crew was feisty and fired-up and kept it fun for everyone. I came in again in 3rd behind world-renown Katerina Nash and Maghalie Rochette.

 

To complete the madness, I drove back to Reno early the next day and flew out that same evening on a red-eye to Vermont for the NEMBA Fest, a one-of-a-kind mountain bike festival that boasts, arguably some of the best trails in the world, The Kingdom Trails. I hadn’t been back to ride on the east coast since the Pennsylvania Mountain Bike Nationals 3 years ago, I was long overdue for some slippery roots. I spent 4 days in Vermont, guiding rides and being guided, shredding the Burke Mountain downhill greasiness (an awesome challenge for a west coaster), hanging out at the festival, the Tiki bar and the river, socializing with new, amazing friends, drinking delicious Vermont beer, eating some of the best burgers and burritos I’ve ever had and staying up late, getting rowdy like a college kid. I spent quality time with some very special, down-to-earth people and was absolutely blown away by their kindness, generosity and willingness to share with complete strangers. Being around this energy, makes me want to work even harder at being a better person. The simplicity of a good weekend with good people is always a powerful reminder of what makes life so undeniably awesome! I was on a happy high for days.

 

Speaking of high, I also officially solidified a partnership with the KYND Cannabis Company and MYNT dispensary of Reno, NV. I could not be more excited to throw myself into the heart of controversy and advocate for the evolving perspectives and dissemination of information around this contentious issue. Looking forward to sharing the full story about my decision and partnership next, stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to the Scene of the Crime – Sea Otter

First year mountain bike race 2007

My first Sea Otter Classic bike race experience was in 2007 when I was 20 years old. I had just started collegiate mountain biking and I attended Sea Otter for my first taste of the big-league mountain bike scene, racing in the Expert category. I remember looking at all of the pros lined up on the start line and thinking, “they look like rock stars with their matching bikes and spandex”. Witnessing the action left a powerful impression, and I made a pact with my friend that, one day, we would be big-time pro mountain bikers too!!
 
Last week, was my 9th Sea Otter Classic. I raced the pro enduro and the cyclocross race, placing 4th and 6th, respectively. I can hardly believe I’ve been at it as a career now for 8 years. What an incredible experience.
 
Jumping back into the big Sea Otter event at the start of my season reminds me that I love doing what I do. The racing is always a fun challenge but it’s the community coming together that I look forward to the most.
 
Because I didn’t get started on the bike until college, I, admittedly, have been pretty ignorant about the history of my sport and some of those who were the original mountain bike pros and rebels, making waves in the sport before me. Over the years, I’ve met top pros who have inspired my riding and pros who were the pioneers, introducing ground-breaking skills and styles that have forever changed the face of the industry. I am always immensely honored to connect with the legends, who have been cyclists for way longer than myself, and who still have the tenacity and dedication. Good people and good energy.
 
In the niche world of cycling, Sea Otter is the biggest national outdoor cycling expo and now I get to feel like a celebrity on the scene. It’s a strange concept, something that will always feel a little weird about, but it is also such a privilege to inspire other people and get them exciting about biking, the way I felt when I was first introduced in 2007. I will never take my opportunities and position as a professional athlete for granted.

 

2017 Pro Enduro race, photo credit Wil Matthews


 

2017 Pro Enduro podium, 4th place

Backyard Pump Track

I pride myself on being an adult kid and I vow to stay this way forever.

When I lived in Durango, CO last, my awesome neighbors built “Durango’s Best Pump Track” in our shared backyard. It was a draw for the college cycling community and gave us all something to look forward to when we came home. Ever since I moved, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to recreate the same backyard paradise.
 
This past weekend, I had the honor of finally hosting a backyard pump track building party in my own yard. It was a blast. We had a BBQ, a keg and several cases of beer, provided by a local Reno brewery, Brewer’s Cabinet/ Tahoe Beer, and the weather was a perfect 68 degree day with no wind and hero dirt, after receiving a spring rainstorm two days prior.
 
Lot’s of good people showed up who had never met each other before and became instantly bonded over digging, drinking beer and getting to ride the fruits of our labors at the end of the day.
 
The pump track plan had been slowly coming together since we bought our house a year and a half ago. In fact, one of our motivators for purchasing a house was having the liberty to build our own backyard pump track.
 
We have a small yard but it was just big enough. After the digging frenzy, our pump track takes up approximately 1400 sq ft.
 
The building process has definitely attracted some interest in the neighborhood since it’s a bit different from the landscaping most people are used to seeing. The whole process has allowed us to have some great conversations and connect with new friends.
 
I’ve always wanted my own adult playground in the convenience of my backyard. I still am hoping for some other fun yard assets like a garden, fire pit, and a chicken coop and whatever else I can squeeze in around the perimeter of the pump track, which nearly covers the entire yard.
 
We also plan to plant pumpkins on the berms and turn it into a “Pumpkin Track”.
 
There is still plenty of work to be done, we’ve only got one rideable outside line so far. The truth is, a pump track is never done because there is always an opportunity to change and reshape it. Pump tracks are a constant evolutionary design with room for new lines and creativity.
 
Sure, it’s not the most “practical” thing to have in the backyard, and it does not match the status-quo of what most adults build in their backyards, but we couldn’t be happier. I now have a new way to decompress after a stressful day, and I know I’ll develop better bike handling skills by default. If you feel like behaving like a kid, you’re welcome to come ride the pump track too. #NorthwestRenosBestPumpTrack

 

Developing More Skills from Playing than Competing:

Playing as a kid is something we never question.  Yet, somehow, as adults we seem to forget the importance of play.  I’m not talking about recreating, I’m talking about playing.  Playing, in its purest form, means doing something for the sake of doing it, without an intention or goal or focus.

 

Playing is something I am working hard to revisit in a serious way in my sport of cycling.  

I came into mountain biking through a collegiate team with many awesome, casual, goofy rides with friends (both male and female).

 

My career took off because I also enjoy racing, which lead me down a whole other path in the sport.  Competition teaches incredible self understanding, the ability to fight against the odds, confronting self demons when the pressure’s on, tactics, training, pacing and on and on…

 

BUT, the greatest skills I’ve acquired in mountain biking came from playing.  The more I play and don’t think about my riding in a calculated way or force things, the more I gain from trial and error.

 

My major goal for the 2017 season is developing skills that I’ve never learned.  Manualing, wheelies and big-ass bunny hops and, who knows, maybe a nose manual… the possibilities are endless.

 

Now that I’ve been a professional bike racer for 8 years, I’m excited to reconnect with bike-play and, I have no doubt, it will be beneficial for all of my riding experiences, even the racing.

 

This concept on the bike directly parallels life.  Life is not meant to be lived with a strategy all the time, with a grand plan for the future. Sometimes, it needs to be goofy, awkward and filled with joy and simple pleasures for no good reason.  

 

I encourage everyone to make room for playtime.  Revert to your 4-year-old self, It will make you a better, happier person.

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