“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” – John Muir

One Pedal Stroke at a Time

One pedal stroke into my bike ride I’m trying to remember if I forwarded the laundry. Two pedal strokes in I’m realizing that I forgot my snack.  But three pedal strokes into my bike ride makes me feel like I’ve just received a warm embrace from my best friend.  My smile replaces the scowl and I realize that it’s no big deal if I have to rewash the towels to get that mildew smell off. I am home on the saddle of my bike, on the dirt in Ventura County. I let nature by my therapy. 

The Trailhead

The trailhead for the Overlook Trail, is nestled into the Santa Monica Mountains, and rises sharply from the Big Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. It climbs over 1,000 feet in a little over 4 miles.  This trail is my nemesis, but also my friend.  The tough physical challenge I’m feeling quickly slips into mental defeat around mile 0.8, after the first set of switchbacks.  I start asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” There are so many other tasks that need to be done.  Laundry, client calls, grocery shopping, children on zoom classes.  The to-do list is long, and my mom-guilt starts to seep in. 

The View

One pedal stroke at a time, I tell myself.  I very slowly get into my groove and as I round the first corner with a view, I am clearly reminded why I am doing this.  I am already breathing so hard, and this view takes away any breath I have left.  It’s a clear sky, mid-morning and I see it.  Deep down in my soul I see that my new favorite color is Pacific Blue.  This view wows me every single time I am on this trail.  On cloudy days, you can hear the waves breaking and know that our beautiful Pacific Ocean is there, like an old friend saying, “What took you so long?”

Nature Therapy

After a quick break and photo-op, I’m back in the saddle to finish the climb.  Being in nature, on the trail provides a comfort that cannot be compared with much else.  Trail therapy is REAL and has saved me many times over. Wide open spaces, few people, amazing ocean views, space to breathe and clear my head.  Although today I’m alone, I’ve climbed this trail many times with some amazing ladies. Today, I can hear their encouragement only in my head.  Now, lucky for me, I’ve reached the summit, and created space in my thoughts to conquer the rest of my day.  And to re-wash those towels that by now definitely smell like mildew.

Downhill

After the tough climb, the downhill trail provides a different kind of challenge. On the bike, traveling downhill, my biggest challenge is my own fear.  I am doubting my abilities, thinking only of the worst case scenario, picturing myself with broken bones…or worse.  Once I push the fear out of my head, I hit the infamous Backbone Trail and the ride down feels 1,000 times more fun than Disneyland. This trail makes the uphill suffering all worth it.

Nature

Today, the trail has been nothing but kind to me.  I thank my body for allowing me to have this experience, and I thank our beautiful Santa Monica Mountains for never disappointing me.  The mountains were calling, and I am glad that I went. Yes, nature is therapy!

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Sara is a native of Arizona, but after 20 years of living in Southern California she and her family proudly call Ventura County home. Living in the pines of Northern Arizona for many years, Sara developed a passion for fitness and the outdoors. She shares this love with her husband of 20 years, Jarod. With a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, Sara is also passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle including a healthy mind, body and spirit. What started 14 years ago as a whole family health transformation due to her son's food allergies, has blossomed into a career of helping others. As a Health Coach, she has worn many hats to help others achieve their goals, from leading running groups, teaching fitness classes and working one-on-one with individuals. She and Jarod now have three children, ages 16, 14 (the boys) and 11 (her girl). They are all very outdoorsy, and can be found camping, hiking, biking, snowboarding, surfing and spending time in their backyard. Her best day consists of hiking or biking in the Santa Monica Mountains, spending time with her family, including her little fluffy dog, Roxy. A fun fact about Sara: her sport growing up was Synchronized Swimming!

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