This is the first in a series of posts from guest blogger Michelle Duffy, as she invites us along on her journey to accomplsh a 100-mile gravel ride. -Kid
Journey(wo)man - A Beginner Rider's 100-Mile Story: An Introduction
Hi! My name is Michelle and I’m a beginner cyclist.
I’m on a quest to gravel grind through a 100-mile race after less than a year or riding. Why? Well, a multitude of reasons:
Living in Colorado and being minutes from gorgeous trails, I have spent most of my last two years here outside hiking and dabbling with trail running. Quick context—I’m a former D1 collegiate athlete but have undergone a number of surgeries and procedures, and have constantly nursed running injuries ever since. After a few years of frustration and genuinely losing the joy of running, we are on a break. It’s like a relationship you really want to work, but you realize you’re forcing it, and you need to step back to evaluate. That’s me and running right now—maybe it’s temporary, maybe it’s permanent, but either way, I’ve felt myself spinning and losing routine with nothing to fill the void that running filled for me.
As Life Time’s Senior Marketing Manager of high-endurance events, including Dirty Kanza and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, I have spent my days living, breathing, learning, and understanding the cycling consumer. Over that time, I also started to get an itch to ride. So I went out and bought a bike—it was the most cash I’d ever dropped on a bicycle (I grew up riding bikes from Target or Toys R Us).
Working within the industry but still feeling like an outsider did two things: it made me infatuated with cycling, while also turning me off of it (purely out of intimidation of the barriers). Here are a few things I learned:
But how can you not be inspired by the thousands of athletes you engage with all year, watching their journeys through social media and standing on the start and finish lines of some of the world’s most iconic cycling races? So at the end of the summer I said, “screw it” and took my clunky hybrid bike out on the trails and within just a few rides, knew the little inklings I’d been holding onto for the last year and a half were real—I wanted to be a part of the cycling community. But knowing how intimidating it was for ME, the former competitive athlete surrounded by cyclists and their knowledge and the great riding community of Colorado, I wanted it to be about more than myself.
I’m lucky to work with rockstar rider, cycling visionary, and female leader in the sport Kristi Mohn. Together we have spent the last year talking about how to get more women’s butts on bikes. She’s led that charge through her 200 Women 200 Miles campaign at Dirty Kanza and the DK Women’s Training Camp. We have since expanded that into the Women Ride The World initiative, a social community for women across all cycling disciplines. After saying out loud to Kristi that I wanted to buy into the sport and race 100 miles next year, it felt like the perfect opportunity to chronicle the process and speak to beginners like me, or non-beginners who can look back and laugh at a time when they were in my shoes! Salsa Cycles jumped on board to be a part of it and gave me a Journeyman to ride (how fitting, as this is a personal journey for me). They also introduced me to Salsa ambassador Crystal Kovacs and I’m so stoked to learn from her!
And so here I am, a few weeks in and making a public proclamation that in 2020 I’ll race the Land Run 100 and the Dirty Kanza 100. I’ll keep you looped into that journey, talk to you in layman’s terms, and hopefully discover not just the root of some barriers into the sport, but how we can fix them.
To close, here are a few laughing and learning moments from my first few weeks of riding:
Follow along the rest of my journey at @womenrtw and #journeyto100. You can also find me on the ‘gram at @meeeshyd!
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