I love Mountain Biking. Not particularly fond of the clavicle jeopardizing stuff, but more of the cross-country, single-track rides. It is great exercise, it can be fairly technical and challenging, making you forget all your worries, and what can be best than getting out in nature and breathe some fresh air?
It has been quite a while that I had one epic ride, but I can still remember when one of my good friends introduced me to the sport.
At the time I lived in a city that had a pretty awesome topography, and had access to a single-track trail that made an assent of 300m every kilometer. The metric reference doesn’t matter that much, except that it had a 30% slope. Some of the terrain accidents seemed to me at the time, pretty much impossible to ride, but watching other people navigate them successfully would quickly change my perception on what was possible. For the first few weeks, I would easily fall at some of them, repeating my mistakes.
Analyzing my thoughts at these moments, it became pretty clear what was going on: I have seen other people ride through, and even though I have convinced myself, I still wasn’t convinced THAT I COULD. Then, fear would take over, my body would tense up instead of flowing with the terrain, I would hit the brakes at all the wrong spots, loose balance, and fall off the bike. It became clear that I haven’t realized until then that there was a point of no return. A point that once you go through, you have to commit, and let go of any thought of stopping. The first time I managed to do this, I just rode through the obstacle, and got hooked! I would learn later on a ski trip that this principle applies to other sports as well.
The moral of the story is that it wasn’t my lack of skills that was making me crash. Obviously, I had the minimum necessary since I managed to clear the spot a few times then. It was fear itself that was making me crash.
When your ability is being put to the test, determine where is that “point of no return”. Decide if you’ll go for it BEFORE. Once your past the point, commit, or you may crash.