Reflections on new friends, owning the moment, being brave and other rad stuff
By Sarah Hansing
I’m usually a creature of habit, and either ride by myself on the same loop OR I make the friends that I only get to see on Sundays come ride with me. But this past weekend was a bit different from most; I met up with people who were formerly acquaintances, and who are now partners in dirt, dust, sweat and singletrack.
Otherwise known as “new friends!”
To be quite honest, no matter how long I’ve been riding, there are always still that residual new-mountain-biker nerves that accompany the thoughts “am I going to be the super slow one?” “will I be able to keep up?” “oh man. what if I suck?!” As a result, just before I head out to ride with any new riding partners it isn’t uncommon for me to get a bit jittery.
This new kid at the playground feeling really has absolutely NOTHING to do with bikes.
Fortunately, the feeling always seems to abate pretty quickly, regardless of if I actually AM the slowest one in the group, or if I really DO suck that day.
The thing is, mountain biking with a new group can be scary. Then again, mountain biking just all by itself can be scary. That’s the great thing about it. It opens us up to new opportunities to scare the sweet-jesus out of ourselves pretty much every time we ride; and that in turn gives us the chance to become better braver more confident versions of ourselves.
I find that once the pedals start turning, the focus becomes on the ride. Anxious feelings and worries go away, and we just focus on moving ahead. Things seem more in our control. We only need to deal with what is right in front of us, right now. It’s the best forced Zen I could possibly imagine. Be in the moment. Because if you’re NOT in the moment, you WILL be on the ground. Or in the trees.
This ability to keep ourselves upright in the face of rocks and roots and trees and trails-with-way too-much-exposure-for-our-personal-levels-of-comfort are nothing if not empowering.
Because we own that moment, we will own the next moment and the one after that, too.
This becomes a life skill.
In fact, this declaration that I heard from one of the rad chicks I was riding with said it best:
“I started riding when life was feeling overwhelming. I mean, it was sort of like: Ok. I may not be able to control my emotional state right now, but I CAN control if I try to clear that f*ing log.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
(In fact, I told her I was going to steal that line and use it. Because awesome.)
After all, metaphorically speaking, life is about clearing those f*ing logs. Sometimes we don’t get it on the first go. Eventually, though, we can.
And we will.
Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singletrack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)