This week we bring you Tanya, another epic tale of dedication and motivation. A 58-year-old who just bought a mountain bike and crushed a 103-mile race!
The recap of her story starts here:
Four years ago I got a mountain bike. I have always been an athlete but I am at 58 years now. I was pretty proud of my 9 miles ride in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (shameless plug for preserving our national monuments). Two years later some friends and I decided to enter a 40-mile race from Angel Fire to Taos, NM. It was hard, it was long but it was beyond fun. I purchased my first pair of Sonya Looney "Do Epic Sh*t!" socks in celebration. Last Fall a friend said, "Let's get in the Unlimited Tortillas race in Las Cruces."
A crazy 60-mile route was full of old jeep roads, desert single track and steep, rocky sections in and out of hidden canyons. I wore my socks as a happy motivation. It was hard, it was long but it was beautiful. A pair of "Do Epic Sh*t!" socks was a fitting gift to my friend. Last Fall the two of us, plus one more, got the bright idea to take on the 103 mile Loop de Henle ride in the Organ Mountains of southern New Mexico. We rode from dusk to darkness. We howled under the moon when we finished. Of course, a pair of "Do Epic Sh*t!" socks were presented to our new partner in adventure.
Last December I entered a different kind of adventure - a 15-mile technical mountain bike race in the Franklin Mountains of west Texas. I will never be as fast as I once was but I wanted to present myself with a challenge that was going to require my focus, my commitment and a little bit of bravery. I continued to ride 70-80 miles a week. Every week for four weeks before the race I rode the course. I wanted to be prepared to do my very best so I rode the technical sections, long steep climbs plus one more and added miles to the start and the finish. The only person I didn't want to disappoint was myself.
I had saved a podcast from The Sonya Looney Show titled, A Piece of Endurance Advice. The night before the race I listened to the podcast again to remind myself that what is most important is what I discover on the other side of the long hours and weary legs. If I am being honest I wanted to stand on the podium. I knew I was the oldest woman entered but standing on the podium was what I really wanted. My mantra was: Ride well, ride steady, ride happy. If I did that with a complete commitment for the entire race, no excuses, I would be satisfied with my performance.
For good measure, I chose a pair of race socks that read, "F*cking Magical." The race horn blew with 83 races at the start. I set off at a pace that allowed me to be positioned in the top 25 racers, men and women. I didn't ride a perfect race but I rode hard and strong. Half-way through I found out I was the second woman and I could see the leader up ahead. I rode steady and was very close behind her as we approached the last hard hill. I told myself, "Whatever happens you are going to ride this hill because you can."
I put my heart into it and snuck past the three riders ahead of me. From there to the finish it was a couple of miles of flowy, fast singletrack. I knew that I had to ride as fast and hard as I could. I realized I had an opportunity to reach my goal and I was not going to leave anything on the course. As I crossed under the finish banner the announcer said, "The first woman finisher has just crossed the line."
I was so grateful. I can be strong, I can train hard. I can build endurance. I can be inspired by women. And I can have one magical moment when it all comes together. It really was F*cking Magical.