Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mountain Bike Life Lesson

A couple weekends ago I took the mountain bike out for a ride. This was the first time I've ridden her in probably two years.
Considering how much I use to mountain bike, that long a drought is almost unfathomable, if not down right shameful.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. I decided to ride one of my favorite trails from back in the day. It is not a marked trail, nor a legal one, but it is a technically challenging one that is a heck of a lot of fun. I hadn't ridden that trail in at least 10 years. I wasn't sure if it still existed or had been maintained. I rode to where the trail head use to be and found no evidence of it. Not to be that easily thwarted, I rode slowly for a quarter mile beyond, constantly scanning the side of the road. After a bit, my eyes happened upon the tell tale signs of a trail disappearing into the woods. Without a moments hesitation, I took it and soon found myself lost in the pure joy of man + bike + nature.

My riding was not as smooth or as fast as in my heyday of mountain biking. Lacking the confidence of old...

...I stopped and pushed over the first couple log climbs.

...I tapped the brakes a little more than usual.

...I was a little more guarded and timid on the downhills.

But as the trail wound further into the woods, Those skills which had been honed to perfection many years before, began to sharpen once again.

I wasn't a quarter mile into the trail when I was reminded of a key mountain bike principal that can also serve you well in real life. To be a good mountain biker, you can't just focus on the patch of trail directly in front of your wheel. Nor can you let your eyes wander to the sights around you. No, you need to simultaneously and constantly focus on where you are AND where you are going.

Before you make this jump.. need to be sure your properly aligned to cross the bridge just beyond when you land.

Before you ride over these logs... need to be sure your pedals are level and your carrying enough speed to get over the top.

Before you go screaming down this hill... need to be prepared, when you get to the bottom, to brake with abandonment for the sharp curve with the tree strategically planted along it's outside.

If you are so short sited as to only focus on the jump, the logs and the downhill, you will quickly find that your moments of euphoria will be short lived and quickly followed by tragedy.

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