I don’t how I do it, I don’t know why I agree, but somehow every season I get roped into and signed up for some sort of race. This year while volunteering at an adventure race in Ohiopyle, PA, my friend Ashley offered a comp entry into an X-terra she’s coordinating—THREE WEEKS FROM NOW. Time to get training.
I’ve never claimed to be fast. I’ve never claimed that I’m going to win anything. I always just take pride in the fact that I’m out there trying. This morning I got on my mountain bike and took off for the Deep Creek State Park. Hopped on the trail and was quickly humbled by all the rocks, roots and technical ground I was covering. I got off and walked.
The hill I climbed was on foot not by peddle. The hill I descended was on foot while pumping my squeaky brakes. I again had to cross the trail lifting the bike up a foot to clear the big rocks that I’m not skilled enough to ride. But at one point I looked up from the ground, steady with my footing, and noticed I was alone. I was out there on the trail alone. I was out there. That’s more than a lot of people I know can say about their morning.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t yet good enough to bunny hop over the ‘boulders’, or that my legs had a hard time pumping up the incline. I was in the woods, swatting the flies, sweating through my shirt, getting dirt on my legs doing it and loving it. What are you doing?
Seen on my ride
This past weekend I was surrounded by amazing athletes. I was able to volunteer for the Equinox Trek in Ohiopyle, PA… (I’m a little obsessed with this town, I love it, everyone should love it.) The race was a 48 hour adventure race where teams of 4, 3, 2 or solo adventurers are set out into the wild to hike, bike, navigate and paddle for anywhere between 160-200 miles.
Volunteering consisted of a lot of sitting around, hanging out until 3 in the morning for racers to come in to different checkpoints, chillin’ in my hammock, taking pictures…etc. Not only were the racers amazing people, the volunteers and race producers where amazing too! Many having raced themselves, others medical rescuers there to help and provide medical attention, these races are a huge deal to put on and it takes a lot of help to have a successful one.
Wait, this race sounds a lot like a race I got myself signed up for… NEXT WEEKEND! I was given the opportunity to do an Adventure Race with a friend of mine, it’s a bit shorter than The Equinox Trek, 75-100 miles in just 24 hours. So my weekend was not only to volunteer but I took the opportunity to pick the brains of the racers and other volunteers to help me prepare for this race. I also was able to get back on the mountain bike, get myself supremely lost (I will NOT be navigating this coming weekend) and enjoy the class 3 rapids The Lower Yough has to offer—all while sleeping in my car and enjoying the Falls Pub each night!
Overall, I’ve decided that I want to become one of those bad ass racers. These people are average men and women that do extraordinary things on the weekends. After asking many racers (both at the race and through email, I have met a few in the past and have kept in touch) the biggest piece of advice they gave me was COMMUNICATION.
I will obviously report back on my race next week—but I wanted to venture out and ask for YOUR advice. Anyone out there done some long race (adventure or not) and want to give me some tips?
When life hands you a paddle you better dig it in the river and paddle as hard as you can! This weekend I spent Sunday in Ohiopyle, PA(yes, that’s really the name of the town!) and was able to get on the Lower Yough and have a turn at some white water for the first time. It was a-mazzzzing! I might be addicted and need to commit to doing this more often.
These guides are incredible, they practically live on the river, ride it daily and know its twists and turns as well as they know the layout of the furniture in the houses they grew up in. But just like life, the river changes—throws the rider over a rock, through a rapid or it rains and the river completely changes it outfit and goes from a level 3 rapid to a level 4 or 5 and tosses the riders for an even bigger ride and you have to adapt. You have to take it, you have to dig the paddle and even if you get air and miss the water completely you’re still trying, still moving forward, and still paddling.
The power behind one good push and paddle is empowering. As the rain fell, (because it rained the whole 7 miles down the river) and drops fell from my helmet, my arms used every muscle, each pull they flexed and I sweat and the 17 year old high school girl and I agreed that we felt pretty bad ass going down rapids on a Sunday afternoon in the thunder and rain. At one point we hit a rock and she and I both went flying—the river was cold, rocky, and rough but our team pulled us out and we started paddling again. Because that’s what you do. You keep going. I repeat. You keep going.
Who knew Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania would show me so much? The river would be a perfect metaphor for my life, your life and life in general. Paddle on friends, paddle on!
Check out my Facebook page to see video of us riding down the Dimple!