When you’re building something from the ground up, creating something out of nothing, there’s always a point in which you ask yourself,

“What have I gotten myself into?”

Which is always followed by a panicked,

“How on earth am I going to pull this off?!”

You’ve conceptualized, sketched, researched and planned.  Sourced the best raw materials you can find and enlisted the best talent to bring your ideas to life.  But to be successful, there is a point when all the pieces of the puzzle have to fit seamlessly together and it’s not always in your control. The project builds it’s own momentum and it’s your job to keep the project on course despite the bumps in the road. This would happen during every restaurant I opened during my design career, and these last couple days would mark the beginning of that phase for MACHINES. So it was fitting that today, after a few nights of poor sleep and an anxiety filled morning, was the day my Tuesday group ride switched up the normal routine and decided to conquer my nemesis, The Rock Store climb in Malibu.

Most of the girls didn’t think much of it, other than the pain that would undoubtedly set in through the notoriously steep switchbacks. But for me, there was a lot of baggage associated with this road. About 6 months ago I crashed hard, landing face-first on the asphalt going roughly 25mph after a friend’s tire blew out on the descent.  “Lucky” for me, my memory of the actual impact was wiped from my brain, but the crash left me concussed for 3 months followed by some pretty intense anxiety when I got back on my bike. The smooth, graceful, feeling of descending a hill like water flowing downstream had been replaced by a mental game of “what if’s” that bordered on neurotic. The blood-pumping adrenaline rush that once came from hammering out high speeds, wheel-to-wheel, with friends turned into me sobbing on the side of the road after a full-blown anxiety attack when I attempted one of these rides too soon after my accident. I have since managed to regain confidence in descents, and feel comfortable in fast group rides, but I had been consciously avoiding this particular stretch of road. In fact, the one time I traveled this road by car, I was greeted by sirens blazing and ambulances tearing up the hill only to find a Porsche had skid off the road at the exact same turn I had face-planted on. Clearly, someone was trying to tell me that I should not ride here – EVER. 

So today, as we approached the climb, my mind started to race and I could feel my heart beating harder in my chest. “What have I gotten myself into?” I kept thinking. I tried to strategize. I would hammer up the hill as hard as I could.  Get it over with and replace anxiety with burning legs and lungs. But after riding 100 miles just a few days prior my legs were not on board. That’s when our group leader pedaled up beside me. She knew distraction was the key to my success.  She asked how I was doing? Where had I crashed? How long was I off my bike? She shared stories of her own injuries and we’d commiserate about the frustrations of trying to get back in shape. And before I knew it, I had passed that fateful turn without giving it a single thought. No nervous breakdowns, no trembling hands, my stomach never tied into knots. And when I got to the top of the climb my grumpy, anxious, mood from the morning had vanished. I felt elated, proud, and appreciative of the friends that helped me get there. Nobody would have blamed me for taking the short cut around.  My crash was bad, and the Rock Store has an infamous reputation.  But a road should never be off-limits just because you are intimidated by the risks.

And wouldn’t you know it, when I got back from the ride I found some good news waiting for me in my Inbox.  Thanks to the hard work and talent of the team, we had just sailed smoothly over the big, fat, unexpected bump in the road that had left me anxious that morning. Another small victory fueled by the smart, talented, and thoughtful people around me.