Mountain Biking and Yoga; my lifelines…

There have been many times throughout my life when things just didn’t make sense and I wondered if I would ever ‘see the light‘ and make it through to the other side.  The complexity of life and being human can be overwhelming at times; from the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, stressors and intense emotions, illnesses, losses, failures, disappointments and everything in-between can downright drive a person a little crazy at times.  But no matter how nuts I’ve ever felt, I have found my lifelines to be the yin and yang of Mountain Biking and Yoga. Both of which are backed by scientific research to have psychological, neurological and cognitive benefits on brain functions.  They have been studied and proven to influence physical and chemical changes to occur in the brain which positively affect mood, emotion, behavior and positive thought.  And if you have ever practiced either, well, you don’t need research to tell you that.  Your body and mind will.  

There have been various times throughout my life that I have faced and conquered depression, extreme stress and anxiety and I’ve tried a handful of different coping strategies.  Drinking was the devil and therapy was a mild relief.  But one of my greatest lifelines has been the adrenaline filled, endorphin rush I experience when I’m out riding single-track on my Mountain Bike.  Within 10 minutes of riding, my mental focus and emotional state can go from a 0 to 10 and life’s worries seem to slip away, one pedal stroke at a time.  Not only is it from the physical exertion but also from being in nature where things simply just ‘are‘ without any ‘effort’ and it reminds me that I too, can ‘exist’ in that way. I love facing the challenge to push myself as hard as I can up the hills only to reap the hard earned benefits as I fly down the single-track with the wind in my hair and the biggest shit eating grin plastered over my face.  The sensation makes me feel light, careless, happy and free.  Of the best riding days are those that end with dirt, mud and blood. There is an element of risk and danger which produces that adrenaline charge making it crucial to be present, make quick decisions and ultimately; face your fear and dance with the possibility of death.  In those scenarios, I feel alive, alert and excited.

I started my adrenaline addiction 16 years ago when I first moved to Colorado to be a Whitewater Raft Guide and Class V Kayaker.  From then on, that was all she wrote.  I moved to Crested Butte where I lived to ski powder and learned to Mountain Bike in one of the all-time greatest birthplaces of the extreme sport.  I’ve always felt more confident and comfortable being in a natural state of beauty;  mud on my face instead of make-up, sweat on my skin rather than constructed fragrances, and the wind in my hair rather than long flowing ribbons.  Perhaps it’s my farm girl roots or quite possibility just the graceful accent that compliments my humble athletic abilities.  Although I love Skiing and Kayaking, Mountain Biking is my #1 go to sport and what fires me up the most.  It is what inspired me to move from the Fairy-tale land of Crested Buttes picturesque beauty to the 100’s of mile red desert style single-track that Durango offers, almost year round.  Not to mention the best of the summer high-country riding in the San Juans up on the Colorado trail.  The best of the best.

The other more subtle cure to ‘life’s strifes’ if you will, the yin to the yang; has been my Yoga Asana Practice.  My practice started out with a similar love story.  I was introduced to the 5,000 year old art at the same time as I was to Mountain Biking in CB.  I loved it and enjoyed learning the poses and experiencing the calm and tranquility it brought to my mind and spirit.  But it seemed I always chose adrenaline over my yoga mat laid amongst the quiet space of the stuido.  I ‘played’ with yoga over the course of those 16 years with an ebb and flow style of practice; it came and went.  I had always been drawn to doing a yoga teacher training, but never had the time, money or commitment to truly invest into it.  Until this year.  My dedication to yoga has been just as much of a priority to my health as my physical pursuit of Mountain Biking and other extreme sports.  I’ve embarked upon a Yoga Mentorship Training Program which I am certain, has already and will continue to change my life.  I have a lovely and inspiring teacher who has become one of my greatest life mentors.  My day begins on my mat for at least a 20 to 30 minute Yoga Asana Practice.  NO MATTER WHAT.  There are times when I wake up with a little butterfly in my belly and thoughts of anxiety upon what the day will bring or how things are going to pan out in my life right now and I don’t even entertain them anymore.  I say my Buddhist Metta Prayer and go instantly to my mat and practice.  And as if it were magic, after my practice, I feel completely different, balanced and more peaceful.  My thoughts are still and present, my mind is focused,  my heart is open and my attitude is brighter and more optimistic.  I am then ready to face the day and what life brings my way.

With 39 years under my belt and mid-life staring me down at eye level, I’ve decided to wake up and ask myself the big questions.  What really matters?  What do I want?  And how am I going to get there?  Have I really lived, loved and mattered?  I’ve stopped doing things that bring me down, stress me out to exhaustion, hurt my heart and make me unhappy.  I’m facing my fears, working on making positive changes in my life, and re-building my health and well-being.  I am finally ready to break the chains of my ‘should’s and would’s’ and ‘false senses of securities’ and take a leap of faith, risk stability, and invent a life and career I dream of.  It’s time to stop weaving in and out of the herd, stop playing small, and get out there and take life by the horns and ride it like a bull.  

So to you my lifelines, my yin and yang, Mountain Biking and Yoga; the two who have rescued me from the depths of my turmoil, I am ever so grateful you have saved me thus far and are now the platforms to which I am building my new career.  Womens Radical Pursuits has come to be my next endeavor of ultimate adventure not only to fulfill the yearnings of my own soul, but also to spark the spirit of adventure for the women that choose to embark on this beautiful journey with me; out in the world exploring on Mountain Bikes; alongside exploring oneself through the art, beauty and practice of Yoga.  

makes it crucial to be present, make smart decisions and ultimately; face your fear and dance with the consequence of death.