Girl, Interpreted: Tania Kartolova

Tania wrote this essay in order to share her positive experience in the SoCal MTB League .  Tania is a new member of the Glendale  Composite Cycling Club in Glendale and Crescenta Valley, California who took a risk and tried mountain biking. Go girl! ~mtbchick

Joining the Glendale Unified High School Mountain Bike Team was one of the best choices I have made for myself. Before applying, I thought that joining this team might make me physically exhausted and I admit that I was absolutely intimidated. However, I had just received a new bike the summer before school started and I thought that the bike should be put to good use rather than stay in the garage and rust. At the first ride, everyone looked so professional and so dedicated to their sport, and I felt like a clumsy little amateur who probably didn’t look serious at all. Wearing jeans and an old pair of sneakers, I rode with the rest of the team in hopes of becoming like them one day. They looked so graceful and made biking look effortless. From my point of view, it really wasn’t.

The first time we rode in Cherry Canyon was the first time I could honestly say that I had a decent workout. Going up that horrific hill, I felt nauseous and needed several long intervals of rest. By then, I was ready to quit. But, deep down inside I knew that with a little more practice, I could probably make it up that nearly-vertical hill and join with the rest of the group. After a couple of rides with some friends, I finally rode that hill and I was synchronized with everyone else. That was a very successful day. J

The day before my first race, I was sick to my stomach because I feared being last. How embarrassing it would be if I rode in sweaty, tired and last. When I stood in line, I had the opportunity to meet the riders that were racing with me. Most looked scared, but a couple of girls looked determined. Who knew that I would get a podium finish? During the race I couldn’t feel my legs or toes, but I never let the girls behind me pass by. I was determined to keep on going, and I had a humongous adrenaline rush every now and then. The girls always said, “On your left!”, but I answered back, “In your dreams!”

After multiple rides, races, and deep wounds, I was feeling strong and confident about my new sport: mountain biking. Sometimes, I found myself talking to my friends about how exciting a ride was and how I almost fell and broke something in my body. Other times, I couldn’t wait until I got out of school to ride with the team. The coaches that ride with us teach us very useful tips, both for becoming better at biking and safety. I have also noticed that I am finally drinking the right amount of water and am eating more nutritious foods because, as an athlete, you get used to it. I had the opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills. All you need is a bike, a jersey, water to drink and you’ll have absolute fun! I have also noticed that my performance in PE has been better, and I am always at the front of the running line every day.

This sport is for ANYONE and EVERYONE. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t get intimidated by all the returning riders on the team from last year because, with constant practice, you will get to be in their shoes (or clipless pedals!) – sooner or later.

~Tania Kartolova~

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