Getting into dirt bikes as a female has a great many challenges. Sometimes I think that’s what I love
about it - doing something that most people think you can’t or think you shouldn’t be doing.
I've had a heck of a journey of handling comments, assumptions or negative remarks by male riders. It used to fire me up. I mean, it would really frustrate me! Then it would flip on this switch inside me that was saying “I’ll show you!”. And the mission was set - I am going to prove them wrong.
That cycle would come and go, and sure, it served me in some ways - to get a little boost of motivation at times. But at the end of the day, I discovered that riding to prove others wrong wasn’t very fulfilling. Even if you do reach the point where their remarks are taken back, or even a miracle happens and you receive a compliment from that person, it isn’t fulfilling.
Riding requires a great deal of physical and mental energy. Add resentment, revenge or a ‘proving’ mentality to that and you are sure to be beyond worn out at the end of a day.
How we approach each ride in our minds, directly connects to how our bodies function and connects with the bike and the trail. Riding with anger or resentment tightens the muscles, and shortens the breath. Hello arm pump. “I’m fine, I can handle some arm pump, because I’m tough. Despite what they said, I am, and F’ them, I’ll show them”. Meanwhile the arm pump isn't going away, and the brain is so focused on the redemption movie it’s playing out that it’s barely focusing on the trail, the obstacles or the body.
When riding with resentment, anger or negative energy. It’s my experience that the brain tries to take over everything. No longer is the body an ally, the body instead is just a tool used to get the brain what it wants. Fueled by ego, cut off from listening to the body, connecting to it, paying attention to its messages and signals. This is where we get hurt, push past limits or just end up ridiculously sore at the end of the day. Far more sore than necessary!
We aren't proving anything. We are taking on that person's beliefs, carrying them in our bodies and letting them battle it out with our own true belief in ourselves, and then eventually our belief prevails. Yay. We won. Yes, we won a battle that was completely unnecessary and in no way changed the outcome of what other people think.
I have put a great deal of work into over the past few years towards not caring what others think of me. It’s so easy to say, but not the easiest in practice. Just when I get to a point where I think I have really mastered it and don’t care what others think, the universe sends me another test in the form of a perfectly timed comment directed at an insecurity or weakness of mine, delivered by someone I don’t particularly enjoy.
Yesterday I was in the local KTM dirt bike shop (It’s the only one within 2 hours of where I live), and shared that I’m redoing the top end on my Husqvarna TE 150i and looking to sell it and get either a Husqvarna TE 300i or 250i. Immediately the response was “300 is a lot of power, far more than you need for what you’re riding. The 250 will be easier for you to handle. But really the 150 is plenty of bike for you”
I nodded, resisted the urge to explain the rides I'm doing where the 300 would be great, resisted the urge to say a lot of things. And found myself commenting on how great the 150 is. Because it is! It’s the greatest bike ever, and if I could keep it and also get a 2nd bike, I would in a heartbeat!
(Side note: If a 31 year old male walked in, would they be talked out of a larger bike? Or would they be told a 300 is the perfect bike for the type of riding they do? Just curious how many customers are told how much power they can handle. Especially by a shop owner who has never seen them ride.)
I know that I want a 250 or 300, and I know that I’m going to make it happen. Who cares what this guy thinks? Honestly. I mean, clearly he doesn’t know that when I’m focused on the bike, - there’s nothing that can fucking stop me. But that's for me to enjoy and know. That’s my superpower. I know I can do hard things, I can crash and get up, I can learn and not be in a rush to be the best. Because I know as long as I’m riding I am learning. And that makes me happy. I am not here to gain the approval of other riders, I’m here to make friends, explore new places, and fully be present for the excitement and joy I feel when I'm on my bike.
I don’t know how many friends I’ll make, but I want to find out.
I don’t know how many new places I’ll explore - but I can’t wait to experience them all. I don’t know how many times I’ll crash, but I know I’ll find out (and try not to keep count) I ride because it presents possibilities
Who knows what these possibilities will be.
(Maybe I’ll even find a way to handle a 300i).