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COVER PHOTO: NICHOLAS MAGGIO

Big Lessons on the World’s Smallest Mountain

June 17, 2018

 

Sometimes the race is the least memorable part of the race weekend. When it goes well, there’s not much to report. I’ve competed in a couple of races since my last report, but the Yeti Beti Bike Bash in Lakewood, Colorado had a lasting impression on me.  

 

Little Bella’s is an amazing mountain bike organization that aims to help young women realize their potential through cycling. I was grateful for the opportunity to mentor a great group of girls on the Saturday before the Yeti Beti Bike Bash Race. 

 

The Saturday started off well with as a few other mentors and myself took our group of preteen ladies on ride up the famous Mt. Carbon in Bear Creek Lake Park. I hung in the back acting as a sweeper for the girls who struggled on the climbs. “Just spin it to win it!” I’d yell from the back of the group. We made it to the top, had a snack and took some photos from the top. It was a warm day, but the girls never complained. 

 

The lead mentor, an amazing woman from back East who worked full time for Little Bellas, went over the proper technique for descents on the mountain bike, and off we went. I was proud to see the girls stay on their bikes, face their fears and descend with style. The group was slow, but they all made it off the mountain safely while having fun. 

 

After lunch and a few games, our group once again set out on a ride. The main goal was to ride the majority of the race course that I, and one of the older girls, would compete on the next day. I was happy about this prospect because I wanted to look at the race course myself, and thankfully, we did get to ride a large portion of the route. 

 

We decided to cut the route a little short, but before we knew it, our creative routefinding choices had us once again at the base of Mt. Carbon. By this time the girls were tired; heck, I was tired! However, the fastest way back to the start, and the quickly approaching time for the parents to collect their girls, was back up and over Mt. Carbon. 

 

Without one complaint our little troopers started back up the long climb. In fact, they were faster this time, cleaning the switch backs with style, spinning their little legs in the lower gears like pros. I was proud, and I was humbled. How many times have I complained when the riding got tough, when I didn’t want to continue? More than I’d like to admit. 

In the end, everyone got back safely. The parents had arrived to see their girls confidently ride up to the parking lot, bragging about having ridden Mt. Carbon twice. As so often happens, I learned more from mentoring these girls than they did from me. I learned to ride more like these girls, to enjoy the present moment, and to try my best in any situation. 

 

Sunday afternoon I arrived to the start line of my race while a group of amazing young ladies screaming “Go Ashley! Spin it to win it!!” I rode for them, and was happy to get 7th in a field against some of the best women in mountain bike racing. 

 

Tomorrow I will race the Carson City Off Road. It’s full of long climbs and beautiful views. I’m going to do my best, enjoy the moment and just keep spinning with joy.

 

 

 

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