Back in the Saddle
1. Get over the fear.
Every time I ride, I fall. Every time. The first time I rode, I hit a huge boulder and straddled the middle bar of my bicycle. A pelvic xray, catheter, and three months later, my anatomy could finally handle the saddle again.
Last week, I caught the tree root and was thrown off my bike onto a rock bed. I still have abrasions on my stomach and hip.
I have fallen going around curves, going up, going down, near rocks, and downhill. Every time I have fallen, it hurts. And every time I have fallen, it’s been because I was afraid.
There is no place for fear in mountain biking. It’s a sport that requires extreme confidence, intentional maneuvering, and purposeful agility. If you hesitate, you get hurt. Fearful thinking, lack of confidence, and uncertainty will get you a dislocated shoulder or a head injury.
It’s okay to think about the options, decide on the best one, and then implement. It’s important to be steady, consistent, and confident in the decision that you have made. It’s not okay to change your mind mid course, get off path, or be afraid.
If you are going to ride, get over the fear as quickly as you can.
2. It’s better to have a team.
I never ride alone for two reasons. The first is because there are too many unknowns.
Tires go flat, chains break, you crash, see a bear, run out of water, forget your fresh-ette, or lose your way. When you have a friend, you have someone who has knowledge, resources, and a skill set you might not have. You have four hands instead of two and two minds instead of one. With anything, it’s important to have lots of input and ideas when trouble shooting or planning.
It’s essential to surround yourself with people you trust and have the same goal of finishing and finishing well.
The second reason I never ride alone is because it is more fun with friends. There are sunrises, sunsets, beautiful lake views, interesting rock formations, flowers, and streams to see. Your friend might look at something in a different way or notice something you didn’t. You might appreciate or learn something new. You might enjoy the journey a little bit more because you had someone to share it with.
Friends also push you harder, wait for you, encourage you to keep going, and celebrate the adrenaline rush with you at the end. High fiving yourself isn’t much fun.
3. It’s hard, but rewarding.
Finally, mountain biking is not easy. Some paths are easier than others, but inevitably there is always a prep stage, uphill climbs, rocks to maneuver, and falls.
Conversely, there is also that point in the ride when you get to go downhill and feel the sunshine and wind on your face. There is that moment where the world all makes sense and the only thing that matters is that moment.
The reward comes after the hard work. Always. Don’t forget to enjoy it.