Life lessons courtesy of … your bicycle
By Sarah Hansing
“Nice!” I shouted, as my friend cleared a rock garden …
She put a foot down, dabbing only slightly at the bottom of the gnarly section. Looking at her, I did the same thing. “We just synchronized dabbed!” I enthusiastically observed. (I’m not certain why I was so excited about that …)
She grumbled back (mostly to herself) … “Headed for a poison oak patch … I was looking right at it, and so that’s where I went. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, ANNE.”
I started giggling, which quickly evolved into a snort, a chuckle, then a downright laugh. “You know, Anne, I think you may have just become the title to my next blog post: ‘I Was Looking Right At It, So That’s Where I Went: A Guide To Mountain Biking, Driving, and Life In General.'”
Because really, I think it was the truthfulness of the self-grumble that really struck me as both astute and kind of funny. It really is all about where we’re looking and where we’re going.
You want problems? Oh. You can find those problems wherever you look.
You want solutions? You can find those too.
You want obstacles? Yep. They are right there, in front of you.
You want to cut a clean line THROUGH those obstacles? Uh huh. There’s a way to do that. (Okay, fine. Maybe not always a CLEAN line, but there is a line nonetheless.)
Want a reason to quit? It’s right there.
Want to see a way to keep going? … You guessed it … (And to be honest, you’re stuck in the woods on a mountain bike. You pretty much HAVE to keep going.)
It is not lost on me that I can equate a lot of things in everyday life to the small lessons I learn while riding. But today I realized that for me, in general, the lessons of life and mountain biking go hand in hand.
Here are the things I personally have learned on my mountain bike, and I would be stoked to have you share the things YOU have learned, too:
Look and take in all of the information you can. Make the best decision you can with the information in front of you.
Understand that you can’t see all of the things, all of the time. Sometimes there are strange shadows. Sometimes things are not as they appear to be. Sometimes there are dangers hidden below the surface, covered up so that you could not have possibly seen them — even with the best lights, the best glasses, and with all of your undivided attention.
Sometimes what appeared to be an easy obstacle becomes a more complicated challenge than you could have EVER anticipated.
And it’s okay.
All of that is okay.
Because this is when you have to think quickly. You have to act accordingly. You have to learn to react, without being REACTIVE.
Be calm. Make the best decision you can in that moment. Try to stay upright, and if that isn’t possible (because sometimes it isn’t) minimize the potential damage as best you can.
If you hit the ground, don’t panic. Get up. Check yourself over. Appreciate how durable you are. How much MUCH more resilient you are, than you ever gave yourself credit for.
Smile, even when you have dirt in your teeth; hell, maybe even BECAUSE you have dirt in your teeth.
Don’t look back, because odds are pretty good that will only make you crash again. Look forward. Think forward.
And remember: You go where you look.
Look towards good things. And whatever you do, keep pedaling on. Onward to the next adventure, the next challenge, the next hour the next day the next week.
Enjoy the ride.