Events

Finding Flow at Alsea Falls


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Our first No Apologies skills clinic of the season went off with a bang of laughter, slippery roots and a whole lot of learning. We had the pleasure of using the Alsea Falls trail system as our playground for the day. If you haven’t been there, it provides plenty of opportunities for beginner to advanced riders to find their flow. THAT is exactly what we set out to do with our day.

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We keep things VERY serious

Because the weather doesn’t apologize either, we were blessed with some nice muddy conditions for the clinic. No problem though, we made the best of things and used it as a chance to build confidence in a less than ideal situations. Sometimes life gives you rain, and as long as you don’t damage the trails, you’ve got to go out and splash mud all over your face.

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Coaches Rheannon and Kerstin demonstrate ELBOWS OUT!

We started out the day by fine tuning our riding position and bike-body separation skills. These skills lay the foundation for everything else we do on the bike. By focusing and playing with these skills, you set yourself up for success no matter where you want to go with your riding.

After a quick lunch (while the rain came down), we did a few more drills and then split up. Some of us headed to the top of the trail system and others stayed on the lower system. The beauty of having four awesome coaches is that it makes it easy to tailor to the experience to the group.

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Our awesome crew for the day!

Kerstin and Rheannon took a group of ladies up the road to ride two awesome trails in the system-  Sexy Tree and Highballer. As these trails added some more roots and rocks to the experience, we focused on keeping good solid form and letting the bike dance under us. Dance it did! There was just enough rain to get the full experience of the bike slipping over roots. We broke down cornering techniques and sessioned a few drops. The ladies were ready to tackle Alsea Falls like never before.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Michelle opted to take a second gathering back up Dutchman to session the rollers and smooth corners on Lower Highballer and Springboard. While the climb felt slightly grueling after working on focusing ahead, shifting balance with proper body positioning and wheel lifts, our students were even more empowered to roll right over the top of root ladders and rocks, where they previously had walked their bikes during the first round up the trail. At the top of Springboard, every woman had a smile on her face – the effort to get the goods was paying off! There is nothing quite as exhilarating for a coach as connecting with a student to manifest physical improvement, and most importantly, confidence. As a result, these ladies were able to push through their fears calling on new skills to fully complete corners, pump through the rollers, commit to a line, and ride over or around obstacles without hesitation.

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A tired but happy and very excited crew – ready to PUMP!

 

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Finishing Springboard with new skills and renewed confidence! Time for refreshments!

As always, we were honored to work with a diverse and amazing group of ladies. Seriously, each and everyone of you is an inspiration to us. Keep shredding, keep laughing and keep learning. We can’t wait to see you out on the trails! Thanks to everyone who joined No Apologies for an awesome and adventurous day!

 

Personal, Race Report

From Endurance to Enduro and the Monsters that Lurk in the Shadows


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I did say that I wanted to change my relationship with failure, right?

For me, mountain biking is a place to play around with life’s emotions. It’s a place to test out new theories, new feelings and create new stories about myself. It’s a more accessible venue to address some of my negative self talk and less-than-amazing confidence than alone in my head. It’s a place for me to rumble. Here’s the true story of how the (literal and non-literal) places I explore while mountain biking has helped me to re-frame competition, failure and pure enjoyment.

This year has been an interesting year for me, in terms of mountain biking. I’m not riding as much as I usually do. I’m doing other activities (like finally following through on strength training and running). It feels great to be rounding out my physical activities and that rounding complements my cycling in so many ways. The lack of actually riding, however, has left me a little out of shape (from where I was last year) and ill prepared for continuous gnarly descents (I’m doing great on short ones). Despite this, in classic form, I decided to jump in a little over my head. Don’t worry though, I picked the perfect venue, the Sturdy Dirty.

 

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You can feel safe with sweeps like these

Last year one of my goals was to race my first enduro. I’ve been getting a little rowdy on the downhill and wanted to expand my racing experience. So I signed up for the Sturdy Dirty, an all women’s enduro full of fun, laughs and adventure. Unfortunately, this happened, and I was unable to ride. I was able to attend with the crew and hang with some awesome husbands during the event. This year I wanted in on the action. So as soon as registration opened for 2016, Sarah and I jumped all over it. I was pumped. I had really upped my game last year and decided to sign up for expert class despite my fears of racing on an unknown double black trail. I wasn’t able to get out for a pre-ride and I did little (okay no) training for the race. It left me a little nervous, but I refused to back down from expert. Even though I thought about it (and I thought about it a lot). Better to aim high and miss than to sandbag, right? Riiiight.

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Acting as race support in 2015

Because the Sturdy Bitches were really upping their game with the race, there was a pre-ride/skills clinic held the day before. It was ideal since Sarah and I hadn’t made it up north to practice and now we could get a few runs in and polish our skills.

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Is this the shuttle line?

Although the day didn’t go exactly as expected, Sarah and I still got a lot of riding in with a bunch of rad ladies. We started out with a pedal up to lower predator and I loved it! Meggy (aka my Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail) was ready for everything and the thrill of popping over small rooty, rocky drops and rolls immediately put a smile on my face. The day was just muddy enough to splatter your face but not throw your lines. I was reminded that Tiger Mountain is the home of intimidating roots and rocks that all have safe roll outs if taken slow and with confidence. SO MUCH FUN!

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By the end of the day, Meggy’s fun-o-meter was set to the max

We tried to hit up the next shuttle but JUST missed it. Half of our crew got on, so we picked up a new batch of riders for another pedal up to a new, only open for the race, trail known as section D. Again, awesome. I was feeling good and hitting everything with confidence and grace. I was feeling good about my expert decision (especially when Sarah said she wouldn’t let me back out) but still worried about upper predator, that double black with the rocky roll out that I was terrified of.

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Karen showing me how it’s done

We were able to hit up a shuttle at lunch time (thanks to Compass Outdoor Adventures). We tackled our first pass down the mountain and I was still feeling good, albeit getting a little tired. I hit up the V-tree a few times until it felt smooth and found my line. My first attempt ended with me getting stuck between the trees, but balanced enough for me to put up my hands and say, “so this is the vag huh?” I like to think it was pretty amusing for the ladies watching. At least it was to me. By the time we got down, Sarah and I were both feeling tired, but I hadn’t been able to ride the trail that was nagging the back of my mind.

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Shuttle time!

As we rolled up for the last shuttle, Sarah tossed in the towel and the shuttle driver hooked me up with one of the coaches for the day and local predator expert, Karen. As we were waiting to see if anyone else had another lap in them, fellow MBO guide, Mielle, rolled up looking for a ride and I convinced her to ride with us (even though she wouldn’t be racing it the next day and the rain was starting to hit). What a champ!

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Requirements for new trails the day before a race: A coach and a buddy

I had built up the trail so much in my mind, but it wasn’t nearly as gnarly as I had expected. Lots of fun lines and several challenges along the trail. I told Karen that I wanted smooth and we sessioned many of the challenging sections until I could hit the right line (or any line in some cases). By the time we got to the bottom, I was so tired that I didn’t even have it in me to tackle the rocky roll out. I rallied enough to ride lower predator again, but that was all I had. Karen was an awesome coach with skills that I dream of having. Seriously, when she talked about pressure control and told me to unweight, I couldn’t even follow her line because I was so amazed by how much air she got from that. Time to start practicing!

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You play with the predator, you’re gonna get scratched

That rock roll out haunted my dreams. Even after an insanely delicious dinner with fellow racers and a spectator/coach (thanks Diana and Kat!), it still danced in my head that night. I like racing because it gives me something to train for. It gives me focus. However, as anyone who has ever played Monopoly with me knows, competition can sometimes make me a little weird (some would say a monster). And this race made me weird. It wasn’t even really the competition. Since I was racing expert, I had already decided it was just about me. The day before I had caught myself saying that my only goal was to not finish last. A minute after I said it, I had to circle back and correct it. My real goal was to get down the trails without injury. And spoiler alert, it’s a good thing that I corrected that. It gives you a picture of where my mind was though. I was getting wrapped up in fear and desperation and was NOT being my best self.  A weird little monster was setting up shop in my head and I played right into it.

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Race time!

Race morning came and I wasn’t able to ditch that monster. I was unsuccessfully talking myself off my ledge. I just kept milling around in my head. I chatted with other racers about my fear of the rock roll out. They met it with amazing confidence and assured me the second roll out (which I rode twice the day before) was much harder. And I could see that. The top one is all mental, but that is where I was. I was in the land of mental monsters. The roll out just gained more and more power and in my head it was a 100 ft cliff but no one else could see that. Really, the idea of the trail became the swamp of sadness to me and I was sinking. I was fighting it, but it didn’t matter. I was Artax. I was sinking. And the weather matched my mindset. It was wet and muddy and the rain kept coming.

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SO MUCH MUD

I kept up the good fight as a pedaled up to the first stage. It is a long pedal and there was plenty of chatting along the way. I tried to distract myself and it worked for a while. The first three stages were fun trails that I really enjoyed. When I finally decided to leave the smell of frying bacon to tackle the first stage I thought to myself, “fake it til you make it.” I lined up and then quickly realized that I had climbed myself into the middle of the pro field. Hmm… The monster kicked around in my head and I quickly abandoned my No Apologies! spirit and started riding for our alternate team, All Apologies. I let one pro go ahead of me and when I realized I couldn’t stand there all day, I let the rider behind me know that I was new at this and to just let me know when I needed to pull over (what else could I say?). There I was. My head was a mess and Oscar the Grouch was timing me. Really, that is how far gone I was. I was surrounded my fun and costumes and I was shaking in my Five Tens. Oscar sent me on my way and I had a little fun as I tackled the muddy trails, but I was in the mindset of the prey. I knew they would be coming.

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Meanwhile, Sarah was in full on stoke mode

 

And they were. I happily made it past the road crossing and found someone else stopped up on a feature I would have ridden. But I didn’t ride it. I pulled over and that is when the first one passed. I jumped to the side of the trail for many people that day. All of them fierce and on point. I still can’t decide if they have racing mojo that I will never have, or if they too were just holding on. I suspect a little bit of both, because no matter how much I like racing, I like fun more. I like to maximize my fun on the course as much as others and I don’t know if you can do that while going ALL OUT. At each stage break I was surrounded by muddy happy faces and amazingly silly aid stations and I still felt confused. Was I having fun? The last stage was still looming in my mind. I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was going to ride it in this muddy muddy weather and that I would survive.

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The last stage!

The last climb up was amazing. A good trail climb can always put me back on track and it did. The lush green foggy forest was too much to handle. It was the picture of the PNW. It was rejuvenating. I took a breath and focused on what I was doing. I was living in the beauty of it all and I was riding my bike. Inspired by some summer camp graffiti, I thought to myself, “Be heer now.” I found my reset button and I was so happy that I hadn’t bail out of fear. I found my fellow climb loving expert riders and chatted about science, fungi and life as we rounded out the last of the climb. We had all been given the advice to walk the last climb to save our energy, but I couldn’t agree more with their sentiment, “I just want to ride my bike.” That is what were were here for and I was finally ready. I just wanted to ride my bike. And while I didn’t make it up the climb without some pushing and I CERTAINLY didn’t make it down upper predator without some walking, I finally beat the monster. Sometimes it takes conditions that you can’t take seriously to make you realize it is all about fun. Life is all about fun. There were so many spectators on that last section and they cheered me on when I was on AND when I was off my bike. After walking the rock roll out (I’m sure it is harder to walk than ride), I started a conversation mid-race (yep, certainly not a serious racer) until they reminded me I was racing! Oops. I set down lower predator with a smile on my face. That is why I race. For fun, for pushing my limits and for community. I whooped and made faces at spectators as I tried to keep my traction over roots and rocks. I came across the finish to find Sarah and other friends. I thanked a fellow racer for her infectious smile throughout the race and she gave me a big hug. Seriously. That is why the Sturdy Dirty rocks. You cross the finish line and hug muddy happy strangers. I love it.

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The muddy finish

I still feel confused about my race, but ultimately, I think it was good for me to wrestle with that monster. Perhaps I could have wrestled with a smaller version of that monster in the sport category, but it doesn’t matter. I was the 4th one in from my category, but my time left me dead last. It is hard not to be a little disappointed in being so far behind, but I had made my goal. I didn’t give up and I made it down. Even better, I was laughing during the hardest part.

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If you aren’t smiling, you aren’t doing it right

 

Thanks to all who made it possible and to everyone who have me such and awesome environment to struggle in. I wonder what next year will bring.
For a less conflicted write up of the event and some awesome photos check this out: Nikki and Colin’s Pinkbike Report

Race Report, Uncategorized

Mid Season Race Report


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Howdy everyone! Just wanted to touch base, it’s midseason… how time flies when you’re having fun! I just wanted to let you all know how my downhill racing season is going so far.

Sea Otter Classic / Pro GRT 1 I raced downhill and dual slalom. This was my second pro race ever and first dual slalom race. My bike was a tad small for the DH Course I needed a bigger chainring on the Transition scout and on dual slalom I needed less fork. For being on a bit of a mechanical disadvantage I was able to secure 15th in DH out of 25 and 10th out of 15 in dual slalom. It was an awesome experience to race with some of my riding heros and be around such a festival environment. Excited to go back and beat my times next year!

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NW Cup #1 was at Port Angeles, Washington. This was a wet muddy practice and qualifying run however it cleared out for race day and was a blast to ride! They had us go down the new trail and boy was it steep and techy at the top. I ended up 5th in my third Pro race event ever.

NW CUP#2 CM

NW Cup #2 / Pro Grt #2 was also at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. Same conditions as the race before and turned into and awesome race day venture! I improved my time on course from the previous year by 13 seconds and landed in 9th out of 19 women from all around the country. Brakes open and looking ahead!

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NW Cup #3 was at Ski Bowl in Mt. Hood, Oregon the track was absolutely perfect, the weather was amazing! The woods were a bit sketchy and slick where exposed roots laid out but I put the rubber down and attained 3rd place.

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Jaime Rees, Kjersti Christensen,a nd Kerstin Holster (Pro Women).
Jaime Rees, Kjersti Christensen, and Kerstin Holster (Pro Women).

NW Cup #4 took me to Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg, Idaho. It poured on Friday, stayed overcast on Saturday and was sunny Sunday making the pro track perfect before race time. I hit the biggest drop that I’ve done so far, that I’ve been wanting to hit since last year and got 3rd place in the race.

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NW Cup #5 went back to Ski Bowl at Mt. Hood, Oregon. The weather was not as welcoming as it was in previous races. It poured Friday, Saturday and Sunday seeping into the ground. While Cannonball and the upper bowl tackiness was still there, the woods got really muddy and slick. I was off my game and felt like this was the worst I had ridden all season. I got 2nd place but still was a tad disappointed in my time. I look forward to facing similar conditions to push my mind strategy and my limits on the bike.

 

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My next couple races will take me to Yacolt, WA this Saturday to try my hand out in Enduro racing. After that I will compete in the last two NW Cup races at Stevens Pass in Washington. Wish me and my fellow competitors luck! Hope you all are having a great season!!

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To stay up to date with my race schedule and my results check out: www.kerstinholster.com 

 

 

Adventure Report, Personal

Early Season Progress


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My mind is overflowing with excitement and gratitude. The last month has been a whirlwind and I am coming out on the other side of some amazing accomplishments. In the last week I have become both a PhD candidate and a certified mountain bike instructor. Amazing!

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Very tired but excited after a weekend of instructor training

The last two months I have been crunching away and studying for my qualifying exam. For those of you who don’t know (meaning most people) a qualifying exam is the barrier between being a PhD student and a PhD candidate. Each school and department does things a little bit differently. For my department (Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU) we have to write a 20-page research proposal that is NOT our dissertation topic and complete a 2-hour oral exam. The oral exam can cover questions on anything that your committee thinks that you should know from previous classes, experiences, etc. to continue in your field of study. It was terrifying. However, I still needed to get out and have some fun.

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Good Mudslinger times

And I did! Zamora was able to come down to participate in this year’s Mudslinger with me. The Mudslinger is always my favorite season opener. My riding style has changed a bit, but I couldn’t resist chasing Zamora around for 22 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing. Of course, I wanted to have the maximum amount of fun so I rocked it on the Megatrail. Perhaps the Megatrail wasn’t built with this course in mind, but I have to say, it did really well! It left me with a smile on my face the whole time! I had stopped early on in the race to help a group of people with flats. After that, I put down the suffer trying to catch up to Zamora. I kept hearing updates about where my pump was the entire race, but I never did catch Zamora. She was like a hallucination in the distance. Her bright jersey made it so I could see her most of the race but she gained a good 3 minutes on me by the end of the race. After destroying the Sport class last year (haha), we both decided to race as Expert this year. We came in 4th and 5th out of 7. There was a good 20 minutes between me and the first place winner. Good goals for next year!

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Always smiling on the Megatrail Photo by Audra Terry

And just to keep things interesting, the weekend before my oral exam I went out to the Cascadia Dirt Cup She Spoke pre-ride in Hood River. Because why not? Michelle said it was a good idea! It is important to have a group that makes sure you have fun at even the most stressful times. It did not disappoint. An amazing group of women came out! The weather was perfect! The Dirty Harlots did such an amazing job of showing us around. I finally got a good tour of the Post Canyon trails. Before the pre-ride, I had only played around in skills area. There were some pretty amazing trails. There were some nice chunky rock drops that I rode into blind on a less-than-amazing line (so that is what everyone was checking out before riding). I did a front wheel land on a mandatory drop (totally did that on purpose to add style) and got to practice lots of tight berms. And did I mention the awesome group of ladies? Seriously awesome.

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Great turn out for the Cascadia Dirt Cup She Spoke Pre-Ride

And then the qualifying exam! I just kept imagining it like a drop at Black Rock that I had recently ridden for the first time. I had the skills, but it looked scary as hell riding into it. That is exactly what the oral exam was like. Except it felt like an awkward landing that I managed to ride out. The entire exam felt pretty unpleasant and uncomfortable. The entire time, I felt confused and was trying to figure out how best to showcase my knowledge while decoding what I was being asked. I just kept moving forward. After the exam, I was asked to leave the room and I sat outside for what seemed like an eternity while my committee discussed the end result. And after that 5-minute eternity, I was invited back in and was told that I passed! So stoked! I certainly could have done better, but I am so happy to have this behind me. So I move forward. The reality of actually having a PhD some day is starting to sink in. Crazy times.

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The qualifying exam drop

To celebrate (one way or the other) I had signed myself up for a PMBIA training class the weekend after the exam. To make things even better, Kerstin was able to sign up at the last minute. Kerstin and I completed their Level 1 certification, which gives you the tools to teach beginning to intermediate mountain bikers. I decided to sign up for certification though PMBIA for two main reasons: 1. I wanted to go through a different training than Michelle had completed to allow for diversity in our instruction. 2. I was impressed by their organization and set up, which closely follows instructor certification in the ski and snowboard industry. In person, I was even more impressed with the program. I may have spent the whole weekend overloaded with information and a little worried that I wasn’t gonna hack it, but it was so worth it. I feel that it gave me a lot of new tools to use in my own riding and in teaching. I really loved their expectation that instructors should always be looking for ways to improve and learn more about riding and teaching. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get certified and would be happy to chat about  more (see contact tab for our email). It was a little hard to spend the weekend in Bend and not be able to ride Funner, but somehow we survived.

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More of this please

And now summer is almost upon us and the adventures are rolling in. I’m excited about this season and can’t wait to do a lot of riding and a little racing. We are planning some end of the season events (a skills clinic in Newport and a Women’s Weekend of shredding), so keep an eye out for those! Until then, I’m going to be analyzing a bunch of fungal RNAseq data and riding as much as possible.

Events

Life Cycle Ladies Night


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Just a quick post to say THANK YOU for all of those that helped support the Life Cycle Ladies Night last night in Eugene! THANK YOU to all those who came out to learn about bike maintenance, female specific nutrition, win some prizes and meet new riding partners.

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Kate talking about bike love

The space was provided by Life Cycle. Amazing beer was provided by Oakshire. Wonderful food was provided by Tacovore. Not one, but TWO women owned nutrition companies (Do Bars and Zenergy) provided samples of their whole food based energy bars (and they were SO good). Raffle prizes were provided by two local IMBA clubs (Disciples of Dirt and Team Dirt) and No Apologies.

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Misha talking about the importance of nutrition

So amazing to have such support. Hope to put together another social soon. In the meantime, get out there an ride!

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Personal

The Importance of Failure


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This year I have one big goal. I want to change my relationship with failure. Last year was an awesome year. It was packed full of fun and adventure. However, I didn’t really come out of the year feeling like I had achieved my goals. This was partly because of an early season injury and partly because of a mindset change. My vision of what I wanted to achieve on a bike changed. I wanted to focus less on hammering out miles and long sufferfests and more on downhill skills. Because of this my beginning of the year goals didn’t really mesh with my end of the year goals. I tried to adjust as I went along but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. I felt that I had achieved so much over the year but I didn’t have that clear feeling of success. Then I started thinking about my goals for this year. I do really well with goals. I love the process of achieving them. They help me stay on task. I started thinking about trail features that scare me and I started thinking about speed. However, more importantly I started to think about the process. Big(ger) features and more speed is a hard thing for me to tackle. It’s scary and it is messy. While looking at a feature the task frequently seems so cut and dry– just ride off the damn thing (with body positioning in mind). There is so much to learn about body positioning and line choice, but so much of it just comes down to courage. You just have to pull yourself together and ride the damn thing. Then I started thinking about courage. I started to think about how to get the courage, and for me so much of it is wrapped up in how I feel when I don’t do something or don’t pull it off they way I want to.

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Sometimes you gotta pay attention to the omens 

Then I read some of Syd Schultz’s posts about doing things you are bad at and it really hit home. I have perfectionist disease and I really hate being bad at things, especially in front of people. But you know what kills courage? Being terrified of failure and not allowing yourself to suck at something. Most of the time it isn’t even about being bad at something. Instead it is about not being as good as you would like to be at something (hence the name perfectionist disease). Well you know what? Having the courage to be bad is the first step to having the courage to ride tricky features. And that is what No Apologies is all about. We are not going to apologize for not being perfect because we aren’t perfect. We are learning. We are pushing ourselves and we will fuck up. We will case that jump, ride a sloppy line, be scared, push our bikes over and up, but we will do that while knowing that we will do better next time. Part of the process of growing is doing all of the above. It is about being out there, trying, and not apologizing for who you are or where you are in the process. It is about being okay with vulnerability.

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Higgs B. scoping her line on “the portal”

I have been getting a little dorky about teaching theory, and someone recently told me about this video by Carol Dweck. I loved it and have officially made it my goal this year. I have already been working on this, but it feels good to have an official goal. For me, mountain biking is the perfect place to practice my growth mindset. I am going to replace “can’t” and “didn’t” with “not yet.” I am going to give myself permission to fail. I hope that you will join me in my quest to view failure in a new way, because in the words of Leonard Cohen, “there is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” Let’s get out there and there and enjoy the process!

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Nothing builds courage like awkward high five selfies!