Fast Freddie. Sweaty Betty's.

Today's ride was one that really counted.  I told myself, "Write this one in the books- you're going to recall it in the future when you want to puke on the side of the road and you're tempted to get off your bike and walk it up the hill..."

We were greeting by the sunrise after climbing Grizzly Peak...
It was pretty much a culmination of some of hardest climbs I've done in the East Bay (Grizzly Peak, the 3 Bears backwards (which everyone knows is the harder route), and Pinehurst to Skyline, all bundled together under the guise of some race director's cruel sense of humor- naming it the "Fast Freddie Gran Fondo."  I was so terrified of this ride that I even skipped the kettlebell lunges and "legs day" in the gym this week just so I would have "Freddie Fresh Legs" for today.

You know how when you smell a certain perfume or cologne, all the memories come flooding back of that person who wore it?  The same thing happens with bike routes for me.  I remember who was my riding company, and certain parts of the road are almost time-stamped...I can recall exactly what we were talking about.

Revisiting these climbs was so good for me- just to see how far I've come since those times and also knowing deep in my heart (even though my legs may have argued otherwise) that I had been in that place of extreme fatigue before- slogging up some steep pitches, and had still managed to crest the hill and stay upright on my bike.

It's trusting not only those who believe you are strong enough to finish, but also trusting that faint "muscle memory" that remembers how you've been in this place of wanting to quit before, yet you just kept.on.pedaling.

I know in the world, many women are catty, backstabbing and resentful towards each other.  Instead of building each other up, they feel insecure and threatened and instead tear each other down.  Chris Rock once said, "Women would rule the world if they didn't hate each other so much." 

I am thankful to be surrounded with really quality, positive, inspiring, and grounded women.  They show me how you can still be feminine and still be strong.  My friend Michelle rides faster than 90% of the men I know.  She exudes a soft sensitivity in her calm nature, but it is matched with an inner tenacity that I find so appealing.  I look at her and think, "I want to be like that too." She told me from the beginning that I could do this ride and climb this much elevation.  I just had to believe in her, and more importantly, in myself and my capabilities.

Both of us rockin' the Betty Designs kits... #matchymatchy
It helps so much to have a solid woman role model who seeks the best for you and pushes you hard to see and realize your own strength.  As women, we need to empower each other. We need to challenge the stereotypes- it's cool to get a spa day, but even more cool to hop on a bike.  Instead of looking for a new outfit at the mall, look for new challenges that allow you to see yourself in a better light than the crappy fluorescent lights in the fitting rooms.

Saw this last week and it was replaying in my mind when the climbs got harder...
It's only when we get outside of our comfort zones and undertake the hard stuff when we can realize our own strength and potential.  The more this happens, the more momentum builds and translates to other areas- new paths are forged not only in sport, but in our lives.

And that, to me- is beautiful.