Off season bound and learning how to enjoy time off the bike - Includes carzy A*$ stories ( off course ;) )
End of September and October starts, I'm stuck in Spain and now what?
- People will tell you how crazy it is to make the jump to Europe, I kind of had a taste a few years ago when I flew across the pond to measure myself to some of the hardest races on the UCI calendar while racing a mostly french national calendar. At the time I was still quite young and inexperienced, inex with the sport, with cultural changes and just with life in general.
I hated it, I am not gonna lie. As much as I tried to convinced myself that it really was what I was looking for, it really wasn't, I was deeply unhappy. Unhappy I was, but the why of that, it didn't necessary hide in my team, or the place I lived at the time, or the people I was living with, or the sport, or any of that. I was going after something, something I had expected to be and ended up, not existing.
This is me tho, I'm the type that has very high expectations of people. I like to believe the best in everything. As much as it allows you to be open to all the kindness of the world (Wich is AWESOME), it also put you in a position to get deeply hurt. And that's it, I was hurt. Hurt by my expectations of what Europe was supposed to be.
It took me a little bit before deciding to go back and commit full time. For the last 2 years, I was in the search for a fulfilling life, whatever the fuck that means. I was very unsuccessful at it and I was always, ALWAYS, trying to get more, I never fully tasted the joy of my achievements, never really felt proud of myself, never embraced the freedom that comes with living in the moment. I would live through people around me, racing to prove something rather than to just the love of doing it, I cared more about the health and the wellbeing of my boyfriend and my family and my friends, A SHIT TONE More than I cared about myself.
this summer, a dear friend told me:
"Gaby, You are a mess, I've never seen you like that. So lost, So all over the place. The one thing you must know about you being so depressed. For the people around you, that loves you, it is the worst fucking thing ever. By being so miserable, you make us all miserable. You've got no idea how hurting it is to see you that sad. All we want to do is to help because we love you. But the thing is, we can't put the finger on what is making you so sad. You've got this life, this amazing life, you are incredibly talented in art, and so fucking smart, and you care, SO MUCH about the people around you. SO why, why do you hate yourself so much? GET OVER YOURSELF"
Those words, they hurt, they hurt very much. I didn't know what to think of it, I didn't know what they were meant for. It felt like I had received a giant slap from the biggest whale straight to my chest. and that slap, stuck, that feeling just stayed with me. But it got me thinking. I needed to do something. I needed to reach for help. I needed to get over myself.
a new teammate once asked me; "Gaby, is there really somebody you don't "LOVE"? To hear you talking, everyone is always so amazing!" ( secretly thinking to myself, yes... me)
They are tho, I am so passionate about people! I love them all, even the most fucked up! they are probably the ones I love the most!
but back to the getting over myself part. As much as I thought my friend was being rude and unkind and all that, in reality, it was the thing he did for me that was the kindest and the most helpful. It opened my eyes to something I had never realized. I'm fucking baller! (I may not believe it 100% but they say fake it t'ill you make it?) It's right tho, I am a crazy smart person, my art is amazing, I am a 23 yo pro cyclist who traveled around the world, I've met so many people, tried so many things, almost feel like I lived for 10 people the life of a 100yo. And I am only 23, writing this piece, in my pajamas, starting a rest day with the biggest breakfast and a whole 8cups french press of coffee, in Spain. NOW THAT'S PRETTY BALLER, ISN'T IT?
so now what? Well, after a few weeks of processing that new concept of "getting over myself". I asked myself a very important question, "what does Gaby want?" I wanted a stress free life, people around me that gave me love and support, I wanted to live by my values, I wanted to feel good about myself, I wanted to become the greatest cyclist. so I had to start from scratch and relearn how to do all this. For a couple years now I had been supporting my lover never quite feeling like that commitment and the proudness I felt for him was reciprocal. It was a lot of energy and pain, so I let him go. If I had to do something for me, I had to focus on myself. Then I had to build back my relationships with friends and family stronger, deeper! I had to explore my art, I had to be present and purposeful in my training and most importantly, I had to do something for myself.
(Yes this is the longest fucking intro, but bare with me people because this was important to make you understand the next part of this blog)
End of September and October starts, I'm stuck in Spain and now what?
I had always dreamed about doing these crazy days long walks across the European mountains (or just in general, I love mountains, I dream of them and I always feel this drive to go up it, like a pulsion or something) So I decided to go. On my own, pack my stuff and go hike a fucking mountain. THE MOST STUPID THING I EVER DID PROBABLY, BUT IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. I rented a little B&B a bit outside of Potes in the Cantabria region, Northwest of Spain. My goal was to hike El Pico De Europa. I read a bunch about the climb, the routes, I spent hours looking at maps, etc. I felt like I was ready, but here is the thing, even growing up hiking with my parents, I didn't realize hikes in the northeastern part of Canada have NOTHING to do with hikes in the wilderness of any of those big rocky mountains. I rented a car and drove across the country, from Girona to Potes. it was a long 10+ hours drive, on my own. It was beautiful. I felt so free. I didn't have to argue with somebody, didn't have to sell my idea, I didn't rely on anything or anyone. I was just free of doing whatever the fuck I wanted and it was the most amazing thing. Like a big dump just when you wake up on a Saturday and the world (feels) like it's yours!
The day of the Hike comes, I drove to the trailhead, parked the car, went out to look for the trail head. Couldn't find it, all I could see was a huge rock that was going up in the sky at 2000m ending in a big wall of piled up rocks. Until I realized, that was it, those loose rocks, that was the "trail". SO the thing is, once you start climbing, there is no way back, you just physically can't turn around, or you might just fall and unwind down over 800m of big sharp loose rocks. I didn't care about turning around tho, I felt like Rocky going after my dream, my freedom! This climb had so much meaning, I had a purpose; Go up, look around, take photos with my disposable camera, go back down.
As I get to the first plateau, at the top of the first wall, I start to see in the background the famous rocky needles that point up in the sky at 2600m, down in the middle of those massive pylons of rock were little oasis, little valleys, green, were rivers were streaming down to some cattle that the villagers kept up there during summertime. It was unreal, so beautiful, I couldn't believe my eyes, I couldn't take pictures, nothing could've done justice to the scenery. (NOW BACK TO REALITY) walking alone in unknown territory never is a good idea, especially when you aren't carrying enough food, money, water etc. another fact, as pretty as cattle in small mountains oasis are, they walk in trails altogether because of the steepness of the cliffs. Now I don't know if you people are starting to guess where I am going with this, but many random paths + me being alone + being reckless and not knowing the fuck I'm doing or where I'm heading + not caring enough supply = terrible mistake. Yes, I got lost.
VERY LOST. I basically walked up, through and across this one set of mountains, into another valley, very far from where I had started.
The hike was supposed to be 5 hours, 9hrs in I started to wonder if maybe I was heading the wrong direction. Also, Garmins are great, if you have the right one for the right activity. edge520, great for biking, not so much for hiking in mountains. I ended up in a tiny village, where everybody spoke Spanish, now yes I am very ashamed to say that I live in Spain but don't know much of the language. I was able to position myself though once I got there. I was over 12 km away from my car (if I'd climb back up and over the same mountains.) It was late in the day tho and did not have the time for it.
I walked into that bar, were a bunch of old Spanish men were playing poker and drinking beer and coffee. I started to try to explain my situation and to maybe get one of them to show pity and to be kind enough to drive me back. Now yes, this sounds crazy, but remember the intro, I believe in the best acts of kindness from people. ESPECIALLY GRANDPAS. One of them told me he was supposed to go pick his wife up the mountain a little bit later, as she was picking some berries to make marmalade. He told me he could bring me to this route that was basically winding down the mountains back to where my car was parked. He said he could drive me to the top and then I'd have a couple hours still to walk but, I could just follow the road home (Doesn't matter if it gets dark) I followed around because what else was I gonna do? On the drive up there he kept telling me how much of an idiot I was, he was right, though. Despite all that I was strangely calm. I was in the moment. I didn't care about the past, or what next. I was just taking it all in.
Ok, the walk down was horrible, and the 3hrs bath, and the sore legs the next day. I'll spare you all those details.
This 5 days trip tho, changed me. I came back renewed. I came back with a sense of what it was like to live in the moment. I was so proud, I realized how courageous and bold I could be. I made me hungry. It made me happy. I LOVED every second of it. It was the end of a terrible 2016 season. The end of a too long 1-way relationship. The end of my darkness. The end of expecting unrealistic things.
The beginning of me, getting over myself.
cheers to the of the season!
Y'all go get over yourselves:D
(I want to say a special thank you to these gems in my life: my parents, my sisters and brother, Allen my dear friend who's the most amazing, generous and deep person I know and to Kristin who's my 2016 crush and the start the the beautiful journey that selflove is.)