The Mountain Bike Life

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.  

Yann Martel, Life of Pi

It’s just fear, one of the most common, most human, most primal of feelings. But it is just that – a feeling. There is no reality to it. There is really nothing much to be afraid of. It’s just fear.

I got on a bike this weekend for the first time since I wiped out in October. It’s been damn near four months, and until today I hadn’t so much as ridden down to the corner store to get milk. Yes, I’m a fair weather rider at best, but our winter has been incredibly dry and mild. It wasn’t the weather.

I woke up this morning excited to take my new-to-me commuter bike out for a ride with my friend Miss B. A nice commuter ride, a little tea, and an afternoon of great conversation was something to get excited about. I love how fast the commuter is, how quickly I got from point A to point B, how much speed I gained on the few down hills, and how much ease climbing the slight up hills. I even love the little bell.

I LOVE my commuter, and now I understand – the right bike for the right ride. 

Oddly, whenever Rivers asks me if I want to go for a little MTB ride, maybe just back to Royal Roads, just to get my Giant Trance’s wheels moving again, I find every reason to back out. Too tired. Not today. It’s too wet/cold/late in the day. I have to wash my hair. I say yes, but as the time approaches I feel anxious. I try to avoid answering him directly. I delay until it is too late to go.

I don’t know why it took me this long to figure out that it is just fear. As I skimmed along our amazing paved city paths today on my commuter, I had one of those ‘aha’ moments. That discomfort I’ve been feeling is not because I don’t have a mountain biker living inside me, it’s just because she’s a little rattled. I pushed myself in October, and found a limit. Yes, there was an actual accident with actual damage to myself and my bike. Yes, it hurt like hell at the time, but the pain is long long gone. I was embarrassed, but the embarrassment is over. I don’t even know most of the women who witnessed the aftermath of my bloody legs, scraped hands, and shocked-white face. It’s even work to dredge it up and write about it, though the fear has lingered until now.

I don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier, but now that I have, now that I’ve “shone the light of words upon it” I’m eager to get back on the trails.

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