Here is an article I wrote in the summer (July 24) that was supposed to be a posted on a web site but for whatever reason never made it.
I’ve always been one of those athletes that has some raw talent but mainly relied on practice, patience and more practice. As a hockey player I wasn’t the best skater nor did I have a powerful slapshot. But I did have brute strength and tenacity, so I worked on my skating and shooting and relied on my brain and brawn to keep me out of trouble.
As a martial artist I definitely didn’t have the quickest feet or hands, I couldn’t jump very high and I was a bit heavy on my feet. I definitely wasn’t “floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee” but, I could kick and punch hard and I could take a hit. Hit me once and I’d come back for more.
These skills can be summed up in a few key words that all athletes, be they weekend warriors or Olympic gold medalists rely on the most – confidence and perseverance. You can’t have one without the other.
With confidence you know that you can ride anything. As you are riding your brain reminds you ever so subtly to do the little things that will make the ride flow – easy on the front brake, butt behind the saddle, look down the trail, lean into the corners, breathe.
With perseverance you keep on going. When you crash or miss an obstacle you brush it off, get back on your bike and try it again. You know with practice and a little patience everything will come together.
You have the confidence to try it again until you get it.
Well, I’ve lost the one key ingredient to keep this all going – confidence. I’ve always been a confident athlete and more importantly a confident mountain biker. Last year when I started riding I really didn’t know what I was doing.
But with some help from my friends I was quickly on my way. I progressed so quickly last year and had so much fun that I decided to race my bike this summer. This was the beginning of the end.
You know how it is – you want to win so you push it a little bit. Then the next race you push it a little bit more. Taking lines you don’t normally ride. Laying down a little more speed than you’re used to. You feel like the king of the world – you’re riding things you’ve never ridden before and doing it faster than you imagined.
Then it happens – a crash. You don’t normally crash. Heck, last summer when you were “learning” you crashed only twice. You brush it off and keep on going for it.
Wham – you crash again. This time it’s harder to keep on going. But you do, you tell yourself to go back to basics and everything will come together. It does – soon you’re flying again, your confidence is sky high and you love the bike.
At the next race you feel good – your fitness has come together and you’re ready to go for it. Your watch stops at 19 minutes. That’s right you lasted all of 19 minutes. Your friends ask you what happened.
You don’t know what happened. One minute you’re on the bike – the next you’re lying on the ground hurting.
Today I went for an easy ride at Kanata Lakes. I thought I’d go for a nice technical ride without any steep descents and just work on riding and more importantly enjoy the bike. Forget speed and winning and just focus on pedaling, the fresh air and the freedom the bike gives me.
My watch stopped at 11 minutes today. Don’t ask because I have no idea. All I know is I have an incredibly sore leg. But worse than that I don’t know if I can get back on the bike again.
I’ve lost my best friend – confidence. And with it I’ve lost perseverance. I can’t convince myself to keep on going. Now the little voice in my head is telling me to brake, to tighten up in the corners and to go home.
This is an athlete’s worst nightmare. Here’s hoping I can get through this and I can write something sometime that tells you how I got through it – in case this ever happens to you.
I sure hope it doesn’t.