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Bike the Mountain and Lose Control

I needed to lose control.

Mtn Bike 3

This was the take-away from my first mountain biking session in four years. It was a balmy 95 degrees at 5:00 P.M., but I knew that once we hit the trail the canopy of trees would make the temperature bearable. I never objected to hot-weather activities, though. It was the rocks, the poison ivy, and the snakes I worried about. Yet, the roadways scared me more. Recently in my area there were several “close calls” and one tragedy that caused me to set aside my road bike for a while. The most recent was a call I received at work from my husband, notifying me that a car buzzed him going 45 miles/hour while he was out for his morning ride. The inconsideration of drivers, and the overwhelming feeling that things would not radically change any time soon, caused me to rethink my relationship with my mountain bike. Snakes I can handle; motor vehicles-turned-killing machines, I cannot.

Dave, my gracious spouse, is a Mountain Biker. I give him the title because although he will coyly talk around his bike handling skills, it is well known that the man’s got talent! Yesterday he offered to take me out to a beginner-friendly double-track, so I can work my way back into the sport (despite the fact that I was never actually “in” the sport). I needed to learn how to handle my bike again.

I loved it!

The forest was a gorgeous green, birds were chirping, the sun was peeking through the treetops and the temperature was comfortable. It felt good to ride up and down the trail and through the grassy knolls. My body and my spirit felt happy. At one point I realized I was chatting away, making jokes and conversation like I never do in any other sport! I am typically a “keep head down and go” athlete. There must be something good going on here. Yet, I was holding back. On a descent I could feel my back tire sliding around, I gripped the handlebars until my knuckles were white and I swore I could smell my brakes (impossible). I realized there was one thing that would keep me from success in mountain biking: the desperate need for control.

Mtn Bike 2

Control is a big part of my personality – in both good ways and bad. I believe it has helped me focus and get to the place I am today. I also know the need for control (in a non-megalomaniac sense, please) has kept me from possibilities. Dave continued to tell me through our evening sesh’ that I needed to “trust the bike.” Trust the what? It’s a bike. Though I am an excellent climber (just call me “Quintana”), descents terrify me.  So I need to learn to trust the bike to take me over the rock garden of Michaux State Forest. It is about losing control and letting my body smoothly work with the bike over the terrain.

Is it possible that practice in this type of release will replicate its effects in other areas of my life? I think so. I am willing to try, at least. I do not think that my life is falling apart as a result of being a control-freak. I am a believer, though, that one can – and will – continue to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually well throughout her life.

Let’s lose it.

Mtn Bike 1

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