Ride Your Damn Bike!

As I have mentioned before, I yell things at myself from time to time, mostly on the empty trail. I don't care if you hear me yelling things. I relish my role in The Big Ridiculous. But allowing that some folks are there enjoying precious time away from obnoxious noises, empty trail it is.

Anyway. You also know that I, a 43-year-old with almost zero historical sense of center of gravity, am riding a mountain bike now. I ride a trail of easy-to-"challenging less-easy" singletrack. What's "challenging less-easy"? Pointy rocks loosely clustered. Fat tangle of roots. Plenty attemptable for a beginner; helps if not freaked out when falling. If an MTB ride is foreign to you, it would likely seem to you an insane proposition that anyone should hurtle puncturable flesh over this stuff on a wheeled conveyance.

But that is what I do and I am having a great time. My phase-one approach as a beginner who is definitely not a natural: (1) Teach my brain awareness and relaxation. (2) Focus on specific physical aspects. (3) Just ride the bike. Ride everything I want, nothing I don't. It's paying off.

Don't get me wrong — as a rider I suck. That's not an issue for me; I have always been patient with fundamentals. As a human being having a blast and feeling great, this is working out pretty well. I feel great. I leave every ride wanting a next ride. That's some sweet payoff.

And it really does help to say things out loud. Like when I ride up to a bunch of rocks and my brain says "oh for the love of pete, please no," I can agree and walk or roll through with a foot down. Or I can override, usually commanding firmly and out loud, "Ride your bike. Ride — your — bike."

Mantras work by refocusing, but this one also helpfully tells me exactly what I'm supposed to do to stay upright: keep pedaling. It also makes me remember that hey, no big deal, I am not negotiating peace in the middle east. I am just riding my bike, which is a fun and wonderful thing.

On days like today, I get annoyed with any faltering and yell it out loud. Approaching the rock garden I know I can ride but suddenly hesitate at. "JUST RIDE YOUR DAMN BIKE." And roll through. Navigating the short uphill burst through rocks into the intersection of two trails. "RIDE YOUR BIKE, DAMMIT, COME ON, RIDE YOUR BIKE!" Continuing into rooty, rocky twists through the close personal space of some big trees. My brain says whoa. I don't want to stop. "RIDE YOUR BIKE. JUST RIDE YOUR BIKE."

I am through that stuff, and that's so cool. Ride your bike. It works. I am pleased but my legs are wiggly and fumbling. I walk a sparsely rocky, slight grade I've ridden before and will ride again on the next loop. Zoolander has been out on the trail and he is zooming toward me. Rocks where I wobble, he glides. I stand aside to watch what's possible.

"Hey," I say. He must have been pulling in a little extra breath, because he roars at me like a drill sergeant. "RIDE YOUR DAMN BIKE!!"

ZL's so loud there's not even any Doppler english on it as he passes, and well, shit. Busted. I am pretty sure he has no clue why I start laughing.


Anonymous said...

What happens when the tree reaches out a branch and slaps you across the face saying "Stop riding your damn bike over my roots!"?

Troy said...

This reminds me of what Dora (from Finding Nemo) says. "Just keep peddling. Just keep peddling. Just keep peddling. Peddling. Peddling." OK, so maybe she says swimming. But, it works for many things. Including running a marathon.

Ann Pai said...

CPounding - hey! Not so much the slapping branches as the magnetic trunks. You ride into what you look at. Nuff said.

Ann Pai said...

Troy - yup. And when in doubt, pedal harder! Is there a Disney quote for that?