Learning how to mountain bike has been one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I do still hesitate to call myself a mountain biker, even though I ride multiple times a week and have ridden in iconic places like Colorado, Whistler, and Moab. For me, mountain biking is my meditation and I’ve learned some of life’s most valuable lessons out on the trail.
I’ve always found it both terrifying and exhilarating that in order to get over most technical aspects on a bike I have to keep my speed up. The idea seems so backward. Usually, when there is something scary in my way I slow down and take precaution. But on my bike I know I won’t make it without going fast. The profound thing is that same realization has proven to be true in everyday life as well. Random situations, experiences, and people will regularly set me back and block me from making progress but moving forward has become my way to endure and continue growing. The fear of falling or failing never goes away but instead of letting it take over I’ve learned to allow it all to ride beside me.
On the other hand, there are many times on the trail where I have to be very soft and gentle with my brakes and pedal strokes to get around a switchback or through a narrow gap. If I try to force and muscle my way over certain roots or rocks I will never be successful. Finesse and patience are required. It’s another moment where the trail mirrors life. The times I’m greeted with the most resistance in life is when I’m actively trying to force a door open or determined to go down one specific path. Some things just can’t be forced. There is beauty in going with the flow and allowing life to guide the way. Just like on the trail.
I love being challenged on my bike. It keeps me stimulated and fuels my competitive side. Sometimes when I am climbing up a steep hill I get really angry and the intense exertion and breathing allows me to let go of pent up frustrations and emotions. Better out on the trail than aimed at my family or friends.
When I am really focused, especially on the downhill, I am able to clear my mind and enjoy the adrenaline rush. These are the times that I feel most like myself and able to let go of all the other bullshit in life.
Mountain biking requires a certain level of self-awareness and developing the skills to tune into my physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings is something I use on and off the trail. Utilizing my outdoor activities as a tool for self-improvement has proven to be valuable in numerous ways. Many times just being out in nature and breathing fresh air is all I need to find a different perspective.
I still have so much to learn and only hope that I can continue to improve while exploring new trails. Mountain biking will always be my outlet, my teacher, and most importantly a good time.
You can find more from the author and stumble upon some inspiration here.