Reflections on the often ungainly route to success  

By Sarah Hansing

For the record: this success was quite pretty!

For the record: this success was quite pretty!

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t pretty.

I don’t think I’ve had such an ungraceful bobble through a rock garden in QUITE some time, really. There was no delicate dance, no floating the bike on carefully chosen lines through the gnarly little piles of granite and rock. Nope.  

I head meant to gracefully ballroom dance through the protrusions, and instead I sort of slam danced and moshed my way through it. I can think of at LEAST three times where I thought, “Oop! That’s it! I’m off the bike!” I felt like I was moving at a crawling pace, and glancing off of every single rock in front of me. A dead stop and fall on my face was imminent; I just knew it.

Somehow, I managed to wobble out the other side, though, still upright and intact.

I was laughing and shouting “What the hell was THAT?!” back to the friend who was riding behind me (and hopefully not following my line). I honestly could not believe that I had managed to keep both wheels dirt side down, because I really didn’t believe that I had deserved to stay upright with that display of bike handling skills. And of course my Strava curiosity was piqued – I had just ridden that section the day before and cleaned it pretty neatly, and I was morbidly intrigued with just HOW bad this last run was.

So, after the ride with beers in hand and the segment uploaded, I checked.  

Annnddd … A Personal Record.  Just … whut?! How?  

That had felt like a complete and total failure, and somehow it was the best time I’ve ever had through that rock-strewn segment. It turns out, that some of our biggest victories FEEL like total failures at the time. Success isn’t always pretty (and in fact, rarely is). As much as we’d all like to envision ourselves gracefully and eloquently gliding our way towards success, the reality is that a lot of the time we’re tripping and falling towards our greater visions and destinies.  

Success doesn’t have to be the cleanest, most direct, flowy line. In fact, it often will be the opposite: the messiest, bounciest, ungraceful manner in which to get where you are going. The important thing is to just keep moving forward.


​Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to ​keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singlet​rack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)