The Day It All Changed

I was a fresh graduate from nursing school and realized living a sedentary lifestyle nearly all of my adult life needed to change. Luckily, living in southeastern Wyoming made for amazing opportunities to get outside and I had several friends who mountain bike. I had actually made fun of them. I mean, who seriously rides bikes as an adult?! But curiosity won, and I walked into the foreign world of a bike shop and picked out a grey and pink mountain bike. That was the day it all changed.

Photo of Heidi in Wyoming on a mountain bike trail.
On my first trip out I ended up on arguably the hardest climb in my neck of the woods, “Death Crotch.” I think I spent over an hour grudgingly pushing my bike up the hill wondering exactly what I gotten myself into! I had no idea just a handful of years later I would be racing up it every year in less than 25 minutes!

As I swung my leg over the first bike I’d own and ride in 14 years, I was unaware of life changing events that would follow. Those first few wobbly pedal strokes would lead to millions of pedal strokes that have taken place in 15 fifteen states, up two 14,000 foot mountain peaks, and even on a highway with an underground fire burning beneath it in Pennsylvania. I would make friends through cycling that would become some of my best friends. My body would collect scars, but so many wonderful memories and lessons learned. I would also learn to push myself both physically and mentally farther than I ever could imagine.

Photo of Heidi riding on a trip on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota
A few weeks after getting my bike I took a trip on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota. 27 miles seemed like a REALLY long bike ride, and it was so tough! I had a massive pack filled with food and comically oversized large Pearl Izumi arm warmers!
Photo of Heidi racing her mountain bike in Wyoming.
I have always been a competitive person, so a little over a month after buying my bike I entered my first race at our local series. I crashed hard, but rode for six miles straight which is something I never thought I could do! I would race two more times in the summer of 2012, and it was the start of something that would be a major part of my life for years to come.

It’s been five years now and I think I have 10 bikes now…I say “think,” because I’ve really lost count! Every year with a bike has lead to a new challenge to tackle. Whether it’s road racing, fat biking in the snow, or racing my first pro mountain bike season there have been new experiences with each flip of the calendar. This year I’ve started to tackle bike commuting and how to deal with helmet hair. Just when life starts to seem routine, I am shown something new and amazing thanks to a bicycle. Sometimes I just sit in awe about how the most simple, random decisions, like walking into a bike shop, can be so life altering.

Here’s to the next five years, and beyond!

Photo of Heidi next to a sign outside of Moab, Utah.
Moab!!! The desert always appealed to me, and now I had completely new way of exploring it!
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Heidi began cycling in May 2012 as a way to get active and shed some pounds. Fresh off the couch, she found herself in her first mountain bike race just a month later and it was all downhill from there! She spreads the bike love among mountain, road, and cyclocross. Heidi earned her Pro mountain bike license upgrade in early 2016 and pedaled her way to a National Championship Hill Climb win in August 2016. When not on two wheels, she fancies herself as a crazy cat lady, dabbler of cross country skiing, and enjoy still spending time on my trusty couch for well-earned recovery.


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