6 Things I Learned Getting My Ass Kicked Mountain Biking

A gorgeous tree and moon at a water break

I went mountain biking in Moab for the first time. Ever. I can’t believe I waited that long! Perhaps it was because mountain biking scares the shit out of me.

Yes I know…I climb mountains and travel to exotic places and miss kidnappings in Africa by a few hours yada yada but we ALL have things we are comfortable with and things we aren’t. And its different for all of us. For me, going fast freaks me out. That includes on two wheels on rocks.

But I’m improving, and now it scares me AND is pretty damn fun. Here are some things I learned while getting on trails a bit over my head, which I think apply to life in general. If you don’t think you’ll ever mountain bike, keep reading because you can learn what I did without having to do it. And if you LOVE mountain biking, please add your thoughts about what it (or any other sport) has taught you in the comments. Share the love!

1) When you want to go somewhere, focus on where you want to BE, and NOT on what you’re trying to avoid. If you see a tree you are trying to not hit, look at where you’d rather go instead. If you keeping looking at the tree in the hopes of avoiding it, guess where you’ll go? Yup. Into the tree. Focus more on what you want, and not on what you don’t want in life. A simple way to start doing this is to stop complaining…and start requesting.

2) Anticipate by looking downstream. This does not mean living in the future. It means being totally present with everything around you in the NOW. And when you are indeed present, you can actually better prepare for what is to come, because the path before you is that much more clear. Seeing only the rock 1 foot in front of you isn’t being present. it’s tunnel vision. Lift your chin up…what do you see?

Ana mountain biking
Beautiful rest spot (yes, that’s snot)

3) Be in Shape. You can’t hop off the couch and expect to have fun crawling uphill with a bike. You have to prepare for it and be fit enough to enjoy yourself – OR admit you are out of shape and do it anyway, knowing you are getting more fit as time goes on. But don’t be out of shape, bike uphill and hate it, then claim mountain biking isn’t fun. In life, when you want to do something, be prepared. And if you don’t prepare and you don’t achieve what you set out to, don’t blame it on what you were trying to do OR on who you are…instead, be better prepared next time. Yup, that means no excuses. Sorry.

4) Easy is boring. Easy is cool if you are injured or exhausted or sick. But barring those things, life is generally more spicy and juicy when a bit of challenge is involved. Not freaked-out-scared-shitless kind of challenge (at least not all the time), but stretching. I was scared to go on my first Moab ride so elected to do a “moderate” gravel road. It bored the hell out of me. It was hot and dusty and easy. I opted to turn around after 4 miles And mind you, I am anxious about riding.

I elected to go for a single track route. Awesome. Then I elected to go down a “black diamond” route which I super loved because I got to pull off sections of trail that I originally thought I wasn’t ready for. It was so scary and fun at the same time! There are few things more thrilling than doing something you thought you couldn’t do. And the only way you get to feel that is to try shit scared (see below).

5) You can always walk around. Choosing not to do something because of a few challenges will be safe, but it will also keep you from growing at the pace you are capable of, AND it can even lead you to stay stuck…and (heaven forbid) bored. I went down the aforementioned black diamond trail knowing full well that I would have to walk my bike down some sections. But guess what? That amounted to far fewer sections than I originally thought. What might you be avoiding just because of something you could simply “walk around” should it not work out?

kane creek canyon
view like this (in Kane Creek Canyon) are priceless

6) Do it scared. If you wait for fear to go away before doing something, it won’t happen. Fear is telling you something exciting is going on.  It tells you you’re on your edge and are about to grow. Or maybe you’ll screw up, but hell at least you’re not bored.

Fear will be there if you’re doing anything worthwhile, like a first date with a big crush, or a job interview for your ideal position, or traveling on your own for the first time, or going down a freakin’ steep trail with gorgeous views on two wheels. Do it anyway. Did you know that in studies on love, people rated their feelings of love higher on a date when there was an element of fear involved (i.e. a scary movie or a roller coaster ride)? Our entire being is stimulated by appropriate fear and excitement. Start seeing fear – in the absence of real immediate physical danger – as excitement. And do it!

What have you learned from doing something out of your comfort zone? Please share below! I’d love to hear from ya.