Late summer 2020 I had suffered a traumatic injury to my left leg during a mountain bike ride. After 6 weeks of healing and recovery, it seemed I was almost ready to get back on the bike before the season ended.
Then, BAM! I was in a major car accident and suffered injuries to my neck, back, hip, hand, and wrist. My new injuries prevented me from any type of physical fitness or exercise for over six months.
As I watched my body get weaker, so did my desire to get stronger again. It was incredibly frustrating to have put in so much work to be strong on the bike to then lose it so quickly because of someone else’s mistake.
Fast forward to summer 2021. I was back in the saddle again, but things seemed different. Not only was my physical fitness at an all time low, my mental game was not in a good place. I found myself reluctantly going for MTB rides, rather than being excited to ride like I had in the past. My bike confidence and skill level had diminished. It was as if that part of myself had died. I was no longer the same rider I was before the accidents.
I began to realize that in order for me to even begin to move forward I would have to grieve the loss of my former self.
Then one day I came across the Desert Dose FB ad. After reading about their retreats on the website I knew immediately - I NEED this! As soon as I signed up I thought, “I’ve got to get back into shape so I don’t embarrass myself in front of the other ladies!” I had about two months, so I began improving my mobility, flexibility and strength off of the bike.
The day finally came - first day of the retreat! All of us quickly bonded with one another. I had a unique relationship with each coach and participant.
I felt safe, heard, accepted, equal, included and it was so refreshing to be laughing and having so much fun.
It seemed that each of our journey’s were different, yet we each shared similarities in our victories and our struggles.
I had hit my rock bottom during our second day on the trail. After not being able to navigate a switchback with extreme exposure, I had a flood of emotions in a way that I had never experienced before. I can’t even begin to capture my experience into words, other than it shook me to my core and took me to a very dark place. That was the tipping point for me. I was able to regain my composure by reflecting on some of the things Coach Shannon had discussed during our previous community sessions. I got back on my bike, and finished the ride. The next day, I had the best ride ever!
On our final evening, during our campfire community time, it seemed to all come full circle.
We were having a conversation about our experiences. Brooke had looked at me and was talking about how our struggles were very similar (overcoming injury and regaining motivation to continue). That is when it hit me. I found myself just staring at Brooke like a deer in headlights.
After our community activities came to a close that evening, I approached Coach Shannon and told her about that moment I had with Brooke. I told her, “the reason for my blank stare was that I couldn’t even remember why I had signed up for this retreat. I don’t remember what my issues even were.” That is how amazing this retreat has been for me - it made me completely forget what I had been struggling with for so long.
I can now breathe and grow into a better version of myself.
I came to this retreat with no expectations - only the desire to improve myself. I no longer wanted to focus on what I “used to be able to do” - that part of me was gone. It’s now time to focus on what I can do and how I can continue to improve. This retreat taught me exactly that, and so much more.
Not to mention the incredibly amazing group of ladies whom I consider to be best friends for life, including Linda!
Choo Choo! Here comes the TuTu Train!
Written by: Leslie Arnett
Photo Credits: Natalie Starr