To consider myself a mountain biker, or a biker of any sort, would be like considering my French Mastiff to be a lap dog. Does he like to sit in my lap? Yes. Does he fit? Not quite.
Although I lack the refined skills to master any rock gardens and taking a berm would be questionable judgement, I love being out in the hills, connecting with nature while at the same time challenging myself to be a bad ass (even if my definition doesn’t apply to most avid riders).
Today, I took a ride which I have done before. For me, this ride is a test of my agility, fitness and mental toughness. The reward is a view of the Valley, the ocean and, when it’s clear, the Channel Islands in the distance. There is a bench which sits halfway on the ride and it is there that I can take a few minutes to breathe, to meditate and fuel up for the remaining half.
Sitting there today, I began to think about the lessons that biking has taught me and I was inspired today to share some of them here.
Lesson #1: That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
I know… total cliché, but literally true. Each time I go out on the trail, my cardio health is tested beyond measure. My quads burn like no other exercise. I ALWAYS have at least one moment where I say to myself “I am too old for this shit” and then, miraculously, a downhill comes around the bend and provides respite for my lungs and I can keep on going.
Lesson #2: When it gets tough, look ahead.
I took a bad fall about a year ago. Did an endo and landed on my head. While that was a lesson in itself to NEVER EVER ride without head gear, it took a bit to get my courage back. Getting back on the bike, I was tenative, second guessing the path, braking when I saw a rock or sandy ground, instead of moving through it like I had done before the fall. One of my friends gave me great advise. She said, don’t look at the path below you, keep your eyes on the trail ahead. Looking ahead, I see the path, but I am not caught up in the little obstacles. By not focusing on the detail of the path, I can ride right over it and not get let the bumps throw me off course.
Lesson #3: Just do it!
Nike can lay claim to branding this phrase, but we all can live by it. This morning, I was tired. My bed was comfy. I thought about lying in and passing on the ride but then I reminded myself that there could likely be a day where I can no longer participate with nature in this way and how stupid it is to forego an adventure for laziness! Being mindful of reality is sometimes the push you need to do more.
Lesson #4: Sit Down, Be Humble
Ego is a killer. I learned to let mine go a long time ago and let me tell you, my life is so much better for it. Let the insecure people hog the limelight and cheer them on as it takes patience, love and kindness to wish them well and it is also an act of virtue. How does this apply to the trail? For me, it means walking my bike on those uphill climbs I cannot physically master. It means pulling aside to let the crazy guy (or girl) fly down the trail. It means remembering that I am so tiny in this equation, in nature, in life, that I must alway respect my surroundings and never respond as an entitled human being, because nothing is owed to me.
Lesson #5: Enjoy the ride
Take time to breathe, take in the sights, be a good custodian in this natural playground and never take it for granted.
I hope you find your trail!