For more information check out the Ray's website.
My second year attending Women's Weekend at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike park was awesome. I love having the opportunity to ride alongside so many talented women. The amount of BMX riders grows everywhere which feels awesome. I continue to step outside of my comfort zone as an older rider, a newer rider, a rider with anxiety who is afraid of everything. The vibe at Ray's is always so encouraging & so positive, it feels really special to be a part of something so big. If you have the chance to attend, I highly suggest you do. The park is closed to men until 4pm on Friday and clinics are held. Each clinic focuses on a bike skill that translates to mountain bike or BMX, for beginners to advanced riders.
For more information check out the Ray's website.
It's true, I had never been camping before. I had passed out drunk once by a campfire but that doesn't count because when I woke up I just went inside. This was actual camping, in the woods, in a tent & it was terrifying & really, really uncomfortable. But for what it lacked in accommodations (which honestly, was completely our fault for rolling up to the campsite well into the evening ill prepared) it made up for in adventure!
Raystown Lake is apparently the largest lake within Pennsylvania. It is 30 miles long & 8,300 acres. Raystown is also home to Allegrippis trails, some of the best single track mountain bike trails in all of North America which is why we were there. My mountain biking experience is rather limited. This would only be my 10th ride ever (all my other rides had been at Trex or Nox). But I was up for the challenge, even on just a few hours of really uncomfortable & interrupted sleep.
My boyfriend Brian & I rode with two of his BMX friends who were incredibly experienced riders. I made it very clear that it was perfectly ok for them to leave me behind if needed, I would not be offended. I actually worried more about them waiting for me & not having fun. But, like most cyclists I know they were super rad about going at a pace that was comfortable for everyone & waiting for me to catch up in the few spots that really required some serious speed! When I ride I spend most of my time doing two things: worrying I'm going to crash & worrying I'm going to crash really bad. But also, I have this voice in my head telling me to STFU & just have fun. That voice is learning to be louder than the anxious one, the voice that's like "OMG THAT TREE IS GOING TO JUMP IN FRONT OF YOU! SLOOOOW DOOOOWN".
The picture on the left is Brian & I after we rode to the vista point on a trail that, unbeknownst to me, was marked as "moderate" (starting at Buck trail, riding Allie to Grippis to Ridge). I was already feeling totally psyched & totally afraid, realizing these trails were more difficult than what I was used to. But the view was beautiful & the dudes were stoked so we continued on down Berry Patch to Sidewinder. At this point we stopped and I viewed the map (below) & saw that Sidewinder was listed as "most difficult". We had stopped a few times along the way when the dudes noticed I had fallen behind. Each time I caught up they were totally stoked & offering me endless positive reinforcement & encouragement (as you can see in the photo above on the left, I was visibly falling apart & possibly throwing a slight temper tantrum - but not really). We headed down Osprey (moderate) to Hydro Loop & here is where I tapped out. I decided to chill on the conveniently placed bench & let those dudes fang it around the loop (which was 1.9 miles, I believe). The break was welcomed & although the longer I sat there the more I began to regret not joining them, they said there was a decent amount of climbing & I knew it was best I took a break. I spent the time just being in the present, appreciating where I was, what I was doing, what I was capable of. I recognized that before I got sober this wasn't an option. Since getting sober I've gotten pretty good at knowing my limits, pushing them when I feel it's ok but respecting them when it might be best to just chill. It's a weird fine line but riding bikes has really taught me a lot about comfort zones & how to navigate them in a healthy manner.
Once the dudes returned we headed down Eagle to the main road & back to our campsite. 8.7 miles of mountain bike riding, my longest ride yet & my first time riding with anyone other than Brian. It was awesome & exhausting & sort of sent me in a million directions emotionally. But physically, I was done. We headed down to the lake to swim & sunbathe on rocks & appreciate the sun on our skin. Brian however, wanted to ride more so he went back & did it al over again while I hiked on the Old Logger's Trail for 2.1 miles (it would have been longer but I realized I had no idea what to do if I saw a bear - I've since researched it & I guess you're supposed to just slowly back away because running will cause the bar to chase you & they are fast & if you try to climb a tree they will just follow you & anyway, I don't think I could do much of anything if I saw a bear other than freak out so I got out of the woods). Basically, my first camping trip was a success & I can't wait until next time. Invite me camping please.