MTB Rider Tandie Bailey: On Setting Goals & Putting in the Work

The ducks are in the pond. I remind myself of that every day as I chase my moons.

My moons are my goals, passions, and next steps in life.  My ducks are the work I put into reach those moons. The thing I have to remember though, is that while I put them there, I can’t force them to line up; they have to find their own way.


I’ve been putting ducks in the pond for years & recently they lined up to lead me to a month of spontaneous competitive mountain biking in California. There, I raced in two dream competitions. First, in the Sea Otter Classic, the largest cycling festival in the world. And following, in The Dirty Sanchez, perhaps the most exclusive, invite only pro-race around.

But back to the ducks and moons. The hardest part for me is picking which moon I want to chase.  I know that literally nothing in our life is out of reach.  You do, however, have to take the right baby steps to create your ducks to put yourself in a position to be able to accept what the universe offers when the time is right. To drop my Enduro racing ducks in their pond, I train at lunch or after work…a few hours a day, almost every day.  A few months of that took my riding to a new level.

The whole month in California, timing was right. Being in a world where seemingly everyone shared my passion for MTB, one interaction after another fueled my stoke. That stoke coupled with a new level of fitness led me to the Finals of Dual Slalom at Sea Otter Classic where I lined up against US Olympian Caroline Buchannan. That sort of experience isn’t one you can create, that’s the kind you have to prepare for, so you’re ready when it comes to you.

A week later, I was knee deep in some of the steepest, techiest, handbuilt singletrack I’ve ever ridden. I was racing The Dirty Sanchez (TDS) on a private ranch in California, blind. Hard work coupled with timing offered great reward, again.

TDS isn’t a secret, but it's exclusive. And it's a party. It’s been touted as the “best mountain bike race, ever” (I agree, Marco).  Going to Cali & racing Sea Otter led me to meet a guy named Mark, who is a legend around there.  Mark was the guy who opened the doors of TDS for me.  At that private ranch, they do what we do here in the Ozarks: ride bikes & party. But when you bring 70 pro enduro racers together, give them gnarly trail to race & provide them with special edition brews, the good times take care of themselves. 

Not only were the racers invited, but so were the spectators—the kind of spectators that guide you down the Oak Shaft (a steep & loose chute that pretty much throws you directly into an Oak Tree…) by yelling “only use the back brake!” which was super helpful, but then can’t get enough “Ohhh, you should’ve used a WTB tire!” heckles in when you wad it up on The Godfather rocks.

14 stages of gnarly trails & Polaris shuttles back to the top made for a sick weekend.  So sick, in fact, that I spent my final weekend in Cali back at the ranch hanging with that family.  They reminded me of my own family & I was so thankful for that-- I was starting to miss mine.

After so much excitement, and finally back in the South, my ducks led me to yet another thrill during the O-Rock Epic Enduro. Which is, to date, the hardest thing I’ve ever done on my bike.  It’s two days of long transitions & rocky stages; it’s also the season finale of the Southern Enduro Tour & the season opener of the IMBA National Enduro Series.  Last year I finished the series in second place & all that did was make me want first. This year, I finished the series on the top step.  Thanks little ducks, we worked for that one. 

Moons are cool because they’re constantly changing, they literally create the ebbs & flows of our world.  Life is fluid & alive, just like your ducks. They float around in those ebbs & flows as you drop them into the pond, but they never stop moving.  Don’t stop moving & life won’t either. Be intentional with your time & you’ll reach your moons, but you have to put in the work.

Tandie Bailey can be found day in and day out shredding the mountains of the Ozarks + building the ever-growing NWA MTB scene. You can also find her on Instagram here.


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