There is a little part of me that struggles with the masculine language often used in cycling. I am a 5ft9ish, broad, large women and am not very feminine.
Yesterday I went on a mountain bike training course with Surrey Hills All Terrain MTB with other Kingston Wheelers. When the instructor Glen was talking to us he was struggling to find an apt word to describe the guts, balls and gusto that you need to have when mountain biking, I suddenly remembered the word gumption and remembered how much I loved the word. I first heard it in the film The Holiday and I haven’t thought about it for a while.
Glen brought mountain biking back to the simple basics. In theory they sound really obvious and easy but undoing bad habits is alot harder. The main thing that I took away was the need to look up and to trust my peripheral vision. It sounds so easy but it isn’t. There are moments where I feel like I am flowing down the trail, over roots and down drops but then something catches my attention just infront of my front wheel. I feel my stomach tighten and the speed drops. I know in my head that speed is my friend and yet I automatically go for the brakes. I feel like I have lost it completely.
There was one specific point where there was hidden dip in the trail and near the bottom was a root and as soon as I saw it I just stopped. I spoke to Glen about how to ride it, he left it up to me whether to walk it or ride it. He went down infront of me, demonstrating just how slowly it could be ridden. I looked at it for a few minutes, took a breath and then thought “Gumption, f*ck it”. I went back up the trail, turned the bike around, started to ride down the trail, struggled to clip back in, a moment of doubt but gumption. There was a flicker of a familiar knot in my stomach and then found myself at the other side of the dip still on my bike with a smile on my mud splattered face.
The whole dip probably took a few seconds. To anyone watching it probably wasn’t a massive achievement but to me it meant so much. Only I know the battle I had with my head, no-one can take it away from me. My bike and clothes have been washed and can’t wait to get out on it again.