Mountain Biking in Kansas

Jun 22, 2023

Have you ever been mountain biking on real mountains? I’ve had that experience due to my in-laws living near Winter Park, Colorado, and being great hosts. Thankfully, they took it easy on us during the ride because my lack of experience, combined with the altitude, might have otherwise resulted in me passing out halfway through the ride. Even on the "easy" trails, the views were fabulous, and the terrain was exciting. My wife loves a challenge, and engaging in outdoor activities with the family brings her joy, so she planned a trip for us to Lake Wilson this past weekend to go mountain biking in Kansas.

I won't lie to you, I wasn't particularly excited about going mountain biking in Kansas, and I'm sure she sensed that because she planned for us to go to the lake after the ride. As I was hooking up my favorite boat (which belongs to my dad) and loading the bikes, I kept thinking to myself: "Just survive and advance." Make it through the ride, and you'll be fishing in no time. Michelle packed lunches and enough snacks to keep our two children from starving to death and we embarked on an easy 75-minute drive.

When we unloaded the bikes at the trailhead and started riding, we quickly realized that Wilson had received a good amount of rain the night before. There was plenty of mud, making the ride slippery and tough to pedal through. The terrain was nothing like "real" mountains; it was sandy, and there were ravines that didn't allow enough space to pedal through. My lack of skill became evident when I failed to rotate my pedals high enough through one section, and the side caught my pedal, sending me flying. Thankfully, the same sand and mud that made pedaling difficult also provided a soft landing. We worked at climbing, swerving, coasting, and splashing through over 3 miles, and by the time we completed the loop, my legs were burning. By the way, it wasn't just me; the kids were feeling it too. At this point, an unexpected twist occurred. We could have called it a day, but we found that we enjoyed it enough to want to do more, so we continued down the road and rode for another couple of miles.

Considering the amount of suffering I went through, it probably doesn't make sense that I ended up enjoying the experience so much. As I reflected on it, I came up with three reasons why I would do it again. First, it filled my wife's “joy” bucket. We've been married for nearly 18 years, and when you factor in our pre-marriage dating, she has put up with my whims for nearly two decades. If I can do something to make her happy or brighten her day, I'm usually all in. Second, it was challenging. I'm not accustomed to riding on that type of terrain, nor do I frequently ride any kind of terrain. I've always had hand-me-down bikes that were on their last legs by the time I got them. My "new to me" Specialized Mountain bike, which I received from my brother-in-law a couple of weeks ago, was thoroughly checked and tuned up by him, but I haven't had much time to use it and build up the necessary muscles for a tough ride. The humidity and the burning muscles were tough, but I survived and realized that I could do it. Accomplishing difficult things is rewarding and doing them intentionally is even more so. Third, we did it as a family. We sweated and complained together. We laughed and wiped off the mud together. Then we removed ticks from each other and enjoyed our sandwiches on a tailgate. It was all about being a family.

While mountain biking may not be considered extremely difficult, the main point here is that often, improvement requires tackling challenging tasks. It involves doing things that make us uncomfortable. While it's possible to accomplish these tasks alone, facing them alongside loved ones and those who care for us makes the experience much more rewarding. Being surrounded by people who prioritize your well-being over the task itself provides an immeasurable strength. Lastly, having a clear purpose for undertaking these challenges gives us the motivation needed to embrace the difficulties and persevere.

This brings me to this week's challenge: Take a moment to assess the "hard thing" you need to overcome. It could be an addiction, a work-related issue, a health concern, or a matter of faith. Whatever it may be, focus on your reasons for tackling it and identify the individuals you need to surround yourself with in order to receive support when you need it most. It doesn't have to be physically demanding; in fact, mental challenges are often even tougher. But regardless of the nature of your challenge, I assure you that with the right motivation and the support of the right people, you will have the strength to overcome it.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever get the opportunity to go mountain biking in Kansas, you should definitely give it a try!

I’m thankful that you were willing to go to work today, that you took the time to read this, and for being a part of what makes Ag Partners the world’s greatest cooperative!