No matter where you live in the world, 2020 has thrown us all some pretty big curve balls. I’m not a licensed expert on navigating change; but I can confidently say I have extensive hands-on experience with the subject matter. Through all the changes I’ve seen, past and present, big and small, I’ve never stopped looking to my bike for guidance. Many of the challenges we face in our daily lives can be related back to experiences we’ve had on a bike.
So whatever the world throws at you today, or in the coming weeks, perhaps these simple lessons from the bike can be a guide to navigating your way through.
1. It gets easier
When I first started mountain biking I was overwhelmed. I loved it, but holy moly it was hard. I was self conscious about being the “newbie”, I struggled to catch my breath on the climbs and I had no confidence on the descents. But the more I rode, the stronger my body became and the more confidence I had on the descents. I made new riding friends, I acquired new skills, I explored new trails, I climbed bigger peaks and I descended rockier terrain. Low and behold, everything got easier!
With patience, practice and an open mind, it will get easier.
2. Visualize success
There is never enough credit given to the power of positive thinking. When I approach a rocky, technical descent I envision myself riding through smoothly. I quickly note any obstacle I want to avoid, and then I immediately return my focus to the line I want to take. I will literally say out-loud to myself “I got this!” or “Yes I can!”.
Finding success on the trail can be directly related back to your mindset and the same can be said for pushing through the challenges life throws your way. A positive mindset and a belief that you CAN do that hard things, will carry you through.
3. Give yourself a break
Rest days are important. Cross training is important. Snacks breaks are important. Burn out is real; both on the bike and in life. Just as you can work yourself to exhaustion at a job, the same can be said for mountain biking. There is such a thing as too much. So next time you are feeling the drag, mix it up. Give yourself permission to listen to your body. Your body (and your mind) will not get stronger if you don’t allow it to rest and recover.
4. I’d rather be rad than fast
Full credit for the slogan (and one of my favorite mantras) “I’d rather be rad than fast” goes to super rad Shanna Powell at Endless Bike Co!
When I think back to my favorite memories on my mountain bike, they have everything to do with the people, the fresh air, the trail, and of course the snacks. My fondest memories have nothing to do with how fast I rode. The good ol’ saying, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination” rings true whether you are riding a trail, navigating a global pandemic, or raising a family.
There is more to riding a bike than being the first to the finish line; there are technical skills to work on, there is trail advocacy work to contribute to, there is a younger generation to inspire, and there are peers looking for a ridding partner. Prioritize being a rad human and at the end of the day, I bet you’ll also find yourself getting faster.
5. Success is incremental
You can’t go from zero to hero. You can’t go from jumping off a curb to hitting a 10ft drop. You can’t go from your first mountain bike ride to Red Bull Rampage. Similarly, you can’t expect yourself to be the expert on your first day of a new job. You can’t expect yourself to bake a perfect loaf of crusty sourdough on your first attempt. You can’t plant your first garden and expect every plant to flourish.
So if you find that you are being hard on yourself, remember that success is incremental. It’s all about baby steps, trial and error and perseverance. Reflect back on the types of trail features that you previously got hung up on that you are now riding with ease. Take a moment to high five yourself and take pride in all you’ve accomplished thus far. You won’t find success by biting off more than you can chew. Success comes from challenging yourself – one baby step at a time.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.