Line In The Dirt: Dare to Know

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

— Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

I have always felt like my life has been coached by examples I’ve seen over the handlebars of a mountain bike. Endless opportunity to see the truth of our movements, of our internal struggles with preventing in our lives versus actually daring to experience. My recent life has been wrought with permeating realizations after decades of preaching this fear versus love equation—talking endlessly about life and forward movement. My own harboring of fear goes way deeper than I would like to admit. Crashing hard is sometimes what it takes to face truths that we so easily hide from ourselves, to reveal personal mechanisms that cease control of the direction of our lives seemingly beneath our conscious control. It is my life endeavor to know this, to see the movement of love overpower the bounds of fear. I yearn for it in my movements and in my heart. It’s forward and I believe it is the change we seek in this world.

Today I decided to not back off, to keep pace and to find out if I could silence my ‘reasons why not.’ To dare to reach potentials that I had never allowed myself to realize and to launch a sick whip of the jumps of Valhalla.

We have been taught to “prevent” our way through life with endless talk of security and being fearful of the perils of the world around us. Truth is, what we fear is ourselves and the only thing we are preventing is the very thing we have always hoped to know. Recently I had the chance to face this head on as I rode my bike on downhill trails in the mountains of Colorado.  I’ve never been a jumper, wasn’t a BMX kid and now at 58 years old it has proven quite a personal journey to seek and learn to throw myself off modern day bike jumps. As I dropped in behind Blake from OTE Fruita I knew I had one chance to keep up, one chance to follow at full speed and one chance to stay in contact and benefit from the example of this skilled rider ahead of me within my sight. Matching his speed, we rocketed toward the face of the first jump and I felt trepidation within myself. I knew the conversation at hand—it was the same age old one: shall I succumb to this fear? Shall I shut off some speed and save myself from what might happen? Should I run away from true love because I fear the exposure of being true? If you have read my words or met me and heard my heart, you know this is my life hope to know those answers. Today I decided to not back off, to keep pace and to find out if I could silence my “reasons why not.” To dare to reach potentials that I had never allowed myself to realize and to launch a sick whip off the jumps of Valhalla in Snowmass Bike Park.

Beautiful truths lie in the act of launching yourself into the air on a bike. You could hurt yourself! And the powerful metaphor of this truth is that you hurt yourself by coming up short. Funny thing here is we pull our brakes out of subservience to this fear and that very act is the one that reduces our speed and causes the problem. We know this so often we simply ride around, slow down and don’t jump. Once we choose to back off we set off on a path of making excuses for it by saying we don’t really want to jump anyway or blaming the wind or Jesus for why we didn’t feel right on any given day. Since I want to know the truth of this enough to dare roll in the dirt, to dare have a broken heart, I decided to not save myself this time and to dare to know what could be beyond this fear. Seems at times like this I have to push my brake levers out with my thumbs to keep from pulling them. Letting myself roll as we approached the first jump face I launched pretty good yet being careful to not fly funny as my reach was just short of the transition. Only slowing me a bit, I pedaled to get back to speed by riding high on the next berm.

Funny thing with jumps that proves to be a powerful life metaphor: as I landed, slightly short, my speed slightly slowed and a whole new set of fears got thrown at me. Should I just back off now, maybe take the ride around? Seeing the face of the next jump coming up fast I faced a decision, one we know all through life, do I dare? I believed I could reach transition and I rebuilt my speed in hopes of turning a disaster into an awesome. You see, just as in other aspects of life, we have been taught to prevent. Applying this to mountain biking we tend to see every rock, every edge, every drop as the possibility to hurt ourselves. Since we have also been taught to fear that injury we build a plethora of “reasons why not” to keep ourselves safe. Problem is, if we dare to look at this truth, all of those little micromanagement’s of the details of potential pitfalls become merely the justifications for grabbing the brakes. Even more than that, this trepidation stiffens our body, causes visual myopia and denies us a clear view. We tend to “get back” when our minds start to manage those “what if’s” and broken hearts and this “pull back” is death to your flight line, it’s what makes old school riders like me fly nose down. In life, love or jumping a bike, we must learn to stop protecting ourselves and dare to feel the movement of ourselves, to love, to dare to fly.

Now, I’m not saying to completely throw caution to the wind and go for broke, that could make you broken. Trail builders must take this truth with the realization that they aren’t just digging lines of pathways in the dirt but are building an experience with a rider’s movements in mind, what’s available speed and where will said rider be on the bike after that last jump.

Un-awesome trails of movement are a waste of money and a scar upon the lands. Fear creates ugly movement and building max miles for maximum dollars is fear.

Build me an experience, do not leave me wishing there was a landing, a “I trusted you and you let me down” landing, that’s not love. Build beautiful lines or quit digging up dirt. Un-awesome trails of movement are a waste of money and a scar upon the lands. Fear creates ugly movement and building max miles for maximum dollars is fear. Love looks like a whole different trail, like the epic ride at Mt. Buller in eastern Victoria, Australia or those lines in Derby, Tasmania. We need this in our lives, in our world. Practice this please, start on as small a jump as you fell comfortable with to have success and not get hurt. Pad up, get forward, don’t prevent but simply try. It doesn’t matter if it’s even just a curb in front of your house, just dare, just feel.

When you crash, when you fail to contain your fear and it stacks you hard—maybe even takes down a loved one with you—get back up, walk back, see your tracks and know what actually happened. See it, own it, look at it and I bet you will find it. You succumbed to a fear but now you’re back. Read this column again, forgive yourself and know I love you. ‘Til next time I see you, create don’t defend, the beauty is knowing what’s beyond what we have yet known.

By the way, I reached full smooth transition landing on several of those jumps that day and for the very reasons we are talking about, I knew that I would rather know than live a life of not knowing. My deepest appreciation to all fellow warriors on this path of truth.

Let’s ride!

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