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Whether it’s just getting back on a bike, riding occasionally, starting to commute, or completing your first century, we all find that there are endeavors we want to achieve, for a myriad of different reasons.
This week, we’re inspired by one of our own employees- Catherine Smith.
Tell us a little about the event you just completed: I just completed the Mid South Gravel 100 mile ride, on my fat bike!
Why did you decide to do this? I’ve always liked riding all types of bikes but was too scared to ever try any large, organized events. I wanted to challenge myself with a terrain and distance I had no experience with. The only way for me to succeed at something of this nature was to properly train for the event – to have a good routine and an end goal in mind. That’s something I’ve never done in the past. I needed to push my body physically so I could also push myself mentally.
How do you describe yourself as an athlete (how would others relate to you)? I would consider myself a very casual athlete! I am always up for a challenge, but time usually doesn’t allow for big undertakings. I enjoy most sports and outdoor hobbies, so I try to focus on keeping my fitness up so I can experience all sorts of activities.
What motivates you? My family is my number one motivation. I want to show all of my kids that anything you put your mind to is possible, and that there will be times where you need to really push yourself, both physically and mentally. I believe that’s very important in all aspects of life. Customers here at the shop are also a huge motivation. I’ve heard some incredible stories of overcoming adversity and have seen some dramatic positive changes that have come from biking. Whenever I have a moment of self-doubt, I think back to these individuals and their progress.
How did you prepare yourself for this event? When I found out in October that I had won an entry into the race, I knew I had to get together a training plan. With the help of other biking friends, I found an app that worked best for my needs and time frame. I set up my indoor bike trainer and started to get after it. Having 6 kids, it’s VERY hard some days to find time to train. My family was incredibly supportive during the entire journey, and knew I had to conquer the dreaded indoor rides that were scheduled for the weeks ahead. Toward the end of the training, I opted to ride as much outside as possible, since it is easier for me to accomplish more time in the saddle while enjoying the beautiful local landscape than it is to be stuck on a trainer indoors. I tend to get distracted too easily!
What were some of the tough training days like? I’d say that the toughest training days were actually in the beginning of it all. I was starting essentially with zero fitness, so those times that I had to accomplish only 20 minutes on the trainer felt grueling. I never knew I could sweat so much, and I wanted to sleep the rest of the day away! Once I got into the routine, and my base fitness increased, the other days were a lot easier on me. I could go for much longer and many more miles before really feeling the effects.
Are you glad you did it? I am SO happy that I decided to not only do this event, but that I finished! The race and the atmosphere really opened my eyes up to how wonderful humans can be! There were folks there from all walks of life, each of us battling our own personal battle. I never felt alone at that event, as it was such a welcoming community. It was so great to have my kids experience this open culture as well. The race itself was surprisingly more mentally challenging than physically challenging for me, but it really taught me how to dig deep and utilize different positive self-talk techniques.
Who was your support crew? While I was at the event, my support crew was my family, and also a friend I had made a decade ago from when I lived in Oklahoma. They were all there for me at the finish, and the family was there at the beginning, and also at the halfway point (that was the only place that support crew was allowed on the course). Leaving them at mile 50 was extremely hard, but I knew that they’d all be there waiting for me at the finish. That got me through some tough miles! During my training period, I had ample support from many biking friends, my family near and far, and also everyone at The Bike Hub! When there were days I felt like I made a mistake signing up for this, they were there to cheer me on and remind me of my progress!
What would you say to someone who wanted to achieve something that they’ve never done before? Do NOT doubt yourself, and do not become overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time. We are all human, and there will be times where you feel that no matter what you do or how you do it, you won’t be successful. Find techniques that help you get out of those negative thoughts. If you think like that, your body will feel like that, and you’ll get stuck in a vicious cycle. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to take some time off. The hard work you put in will be rewarding in the end.