I had a great experience today while mountain biking. It was a game changer for me.
Today I did a 23 mile mountain bike loop that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never felt I could. It’s considered an intermediate loop, but I’ve been nervous to do it because of the climbing during the first part. The loop is made up of linking Snodgrass with Lupine with the Lower Loop. Since I start from the mountain, I then take the pedestrian trail back up to the base. I’ve fallen in love with the Lupine to Lower Loop trails as I can mange the climbing without being too out of breath and can do it without any breaks. It’s also a trail I can do with my son (with multiple breaks) and he enjoys it.
I haven’t done Snodgrass in years as the last time I did it, I remember it being somewhat of a “hike a bike” for me as I just couldn’t do the initial climbing without totally losing my breath. I also remember that when I did it back in my 30s it seemed to be challenging but do-able. I remember not enjoying the climb, but it didn’t stop me, nor did I need to stop for it. I just took it slow and easy.
So, now that I live in Crested Butte, I’ve been doing a lot of climbing either on my runs or with my GG. I felt I had enough climbing under my belt to be able to accomplish the climb required of Snodgrass, so I was ready to challenge myself to do it. A couple of things seemed to allow me to do it today. One, Evan was out of town, so I didn’t need to concern myself with him. And two, I knew I could bail on the loop at the end of each link, so if my legs or lungs were trashed, I had an escape in place. I could also take the free bus from downtown back to the mountain at the end as well.
I’m not sure if you’ve picked up on any of my way of thinking yet. I totally realized that the reason I felt I couldn’t do the ride was because of my ego. I was picturing the ride based on what I did when I was in my 30s (past), the difficulty I had when I tried doing it again in my 40s (still the past, but older version of me) and my perception of my capabilities now in my 50s (judgement, comparison, doubt, insecurities). I knew I could ride Lupine, the Lower Loop and back up to the base since I’ve done that recently. But the thoughts that I was having about the total ride with my little mind in charge, were really just setting me up for disappointment in myself. The ride wasn’t just the ride. The ride was my abilities as an older athlete, comparing myself to me 20 years ago. The ride was a set up to see how good I still am. The ride was about my performance and capabilities. The ride was all about the picture I had of me.
I picked up on my mindset. I realized that I was setting myself up for some sort of failure because it was based on how well I could do it. It wasn’t based on simply getting out on my bike, riding the best I could under whatever the conditions were (without judgement) and enjoying the fact that I could be out with nature for a couple of hours. I really wanted to enjoy the experience today. I wanted to be present in each and every moment of having the opportunity to be with nature. I didn’t want to stop myself dead in my tracks simply because I wasn’t measuring up to my own expectations of self.
Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I stopped right then and there. I told myself the rules for my ride today. I established that there was no time. I just had to go fast enough to to keep the wheels moving so I didn’t fall over. If I needed to ever stop and take a break, that was totally okay. It would allow me to take in the scenery. There was no time limit or element to my ride today. It would take whatever was required – NO judgement. The other rule was that whenever I felt myself get in a tizzy because of breathing, my legs getting heavy, the terrain being challenging or any other thing that took over my thinking, I had to focus on stillness. I had to focus on whatever negative thoughts were going on in my head and let them go. I needed to be quiet. I needed to be still. Whenever I felt myself get more compressed, and not expansive, again, I needed to check in, be still, and simply move on.
So, here I am at the end of my ride. It was probably one of the most beautiful rides I have done. Beautiful because of what I got to see. And beautiful because of how I experienced it. I stayed present in the moment. I saw deer. I saw chipmunks. I saw lots of flowers just beginning to bloom. I stopped in town and enjoyed a green tea matcha latte before climbing back up the mountain. When I felt compressed, I focused on “stillness” and opened back up again with a boost of energy. I smiled. I felt happy in my heart. I felt joy.
It continues to blow me away how my ego challenges me in ways that take the fun out of life. It also startles me that as natural as my soulful connection is to the totality of it all (it’s how I started out), I need to focus on bringing it back to the forefront of how I operate. I know it’s all part of being a spirit in human form on planet earth. I am in gratitude for having these experiences that allow me to experience “home” and assist with my transformation back from where I came. I AM.