My dear friend Carlos took a break from his life in McCall, Idaho to spend a few days with me last week. We have a great friendship and have taught each other many lessons over the past decade. We are in the midst of some erratic Idaho spring weather but there were a few days with nice mild temps and sunshine. We took full advantage of those days to ride our mountain bikes in the Boise Foothills.
During a normal riding season, I typically log about 1,000 miles on my mountain bike. Due to my shoulder surgery, I did not ride a single mile last year. During the recent ride, I was a bit surprised with my lack of confidence. Smaller rocks appeared as gigantic obstacles, sand made my balance squeamish, and the curvy banked turns were very intimidating. I found myself violating the cardinal rule of riding. I was staring and the ground in front of my tire instead of focusing ten yards ahead on the path.
When you look down, a minor rut begins to look like a canyon that will swallow a tire. The fear gear is engaged which causes the body to become rigid and the mind to imagine pain associated with a crash. From past experience, I know that nothing good ever happens when I am riding with white knuckled grips. The reason that these bikes are so expensive is that they are designed to ride through ruts, over big rocks, and across deep sand. The key is to trust the equipment and never allow the mind to focus on problems that really do not even exist.
We all experience bumpy and uneven paths in life. As we ride through each day there is always a choice to be made about where to keep the focus. To ensure a crash, just keep your eyes stuck on all the minutia directly below your feet. Minor problems send the signal to the brain to engage fear and you are suddenly flipped over and wondering “why does this always happen to me?” Tilting the head a bit higher allows some perspective to be added to any situation. When looking in the rear-view mirror most of our problems were nothing more than minor rocks in the path. Take a moment and try to remember the biggest problem you had one year ago today.
Ironically, at the end of the ride my bike needed a minor front brake repair so I rode through some traffic to get to the bike shop. En route to the store, a car accidentally grazed me. The passenger side mirror tapped my left elbow while trying to pass me. It was the perfect storm because the side mirror was the folding type and it folded on impact. I had a small wobble but never hit the ground. The lady that clipped me pulled over and was hysterically apologetic. After a few breaths she calmed down and said, “How come you are not mad at me?”
I replied, “The only thing bruised here is my ego. This is the best crash of my life and I have already shifted to the gratitude gear.”