"The word adventure has gotten overused.
For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts." -Yvon Chouinard
My last enduro race of the summer was truly an adventure.
My boyfriend and I showed up in Big Sky, Montana late at night Friday and were ready to pre-ride the course early the next morning. What we had heard from friends that the course was gnarly but still fun and exciting. 'Ok, so doable' I thought, and 'maybe I'll just walk a few sections' -- but I was ok with that.
But come Saturday morning, wrapped up in pre-ride frenzy, I forgot some of my essentials like eating enough food and having caffeine. But we went up to start anyway. Stage one was super fun and flowy and then we came to a 90 degree right hand turn and straight down a freshly cut “trail” into another 90 degree turn and then one more. Well, I just about peed myself with fear.
There was no way I was even going to think about riding that because all I could picture was endoing and tumbling down the hill. I was scared beyond belief. By the time I got to the bottom, my boyfriend had read the fear on my face. He knew I was on the verge of tears (on top of being hangry and under-caffeinated) so we took it slow. We rode the chairlift up again, but I broke down at the top.
I didn’t want to race anymore.
So, we took it easy and rode a fun trail again and had lunch. By this time it was about two in the afternoon and most of the day was gone. I felt terribly crampy and sick and took a nap in the back of the truck. Later, I sucked up my grumpiness and went along for a swim with friends, but I was still feeling completely worn down.
The next morning when I woke up I still felt like crap. As our friends all got ready to race we hung out. I worked on my continuous caffeine-to-body flow and eventually ate another real meal. Slowly my body began to recover and the rain clouds temporarily blew off. The forest fire smoke cleared out a little and we went for a ride.
I was still being stubborn and did not want to pay for a lift ticket, incase my body decided to shut down again, so I decided that we would do this “easier climb” to an epic shuttle everyone had been telling us to do. Turns out it was a quick 40 minute climb to an absolutely amazing downhill. We started just outside the Big Sky resort boundaries and ended up finishing in town. The beauty of this shuttle is that you bike from the resort into town and then hop on a free shuttle bus back up. But what we discovered was that on a Sunday afternoon this regular shuttle was on a 3-hour break…
Not wanting to miss the end of our friends racing, we realized the only logical thing was to pedal back up. We found the most scenic, least steep route mostly along a forest service road and 6.5 miles with a slight hike-a-bike out of exhaustion and an hour later we were back up at the resort just in time to see our friends finish the race and avoid incoming rain.
What I learned that weekend is that I enjoy biking for fun far more than racing. The idea of racing is great, but sometimes courses scare the crap out of me, and that’s OK. The problem is when I let my nerves take over and neglect to do the things I know I need to do to fuel my internal engine. I also learned that with positive thinking, food and caffeine, it’s easy to rally and still have fun the next day.
In the end it all worked out and it was an adventure in playing and learning in Big Sky, MT. And isn't that what this whole riding thing is all about?
Megan Davin is a Mana Threads Ambassador, writer, mountain lover, hat collector, and yes- adventurer. Follow her blog and connect with her at skirtingthemountains.co