Riding with the Boogeyman

It’s Not Me, It’s All of You

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I’ve been in a long slump lately. The Pits, with regards to my mountain biking and I can’t seem to get over it. I have been mountain biking regularly just about 4 years now. Through those 4 years or so I’ve experience periods of Ups and the Pits in my riding.

During the Ups, I feel confident, nimble, strong and invincible enough to take risks. Risks that pay-off, a new skill acquired, making that rock garden or drop you could never do before. The Ups are when you’re meeting and riding with new people, being shown new things and growing as a rider.

When I’m in The Pits, I am nervy, twitchy and brake inappropriately. I second guess unnecessarily and balk at the silliest obstacles. The Pits sometimes make you think it’s your bike, you imagine squeaks and rattles where there aren’t any and nothing ever seems to work right (although sometimes it actually can be your bike, so always regularly check your bike or you’ll have front wheels coming undone halfway down the mountain. Not saying I’ve done that. No. Or course not).

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The Pits usually come after a period of mountain biking drought and you just haven’t been on the bike enough recently. Life gets in the way, sometimes injury and like a lot of my friends in recent years, motherhood. There’s also the acute sudden kind of The Pits onset which can happen when you’re spooked by say a crash or a close call, either witnessed or experienced first hand.

The good thing is the knowledge of the Pit never being permanent. A few good rides in with a good crew, a change of scenery, babysitters arranged, relief from work stress and you’re back feeling like a super hero.

I’m writing this because, I’ve been in a frustrating and unusually long Pit recently.  And I haven’t quite figured it out. I love riding with my crew, but I have been dogged by anxiety that I am falling behind. Maybe I don’t ride enough. Maybe I don’t push myself enough. Maybe I worry too much. Maybe I stop to take another photo of the same tree we ride past every weekend.

I rode with friends a couple of days ago. It was a much anticipated ride after long work week. I had a few close calls trying to keep up with the faster riders. I was so caught up in exorcising the boogeyman that has been gnawing at my confidence recently and distracted from the actual navigation of the trail.

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But towards the end of the ride, I realised that the pressure was all my own. My long overdrawn Pit is only made real because I kept making it real. I decided to give credit for myself for tackling trails that would be challenging for a lot of riders. I decided to acknowledge that I simply ride with some kick-ass women. That doesn’t make me a worse rider, they’re just better riders. Riding with them is a privilege, not a source for insecurity. I immediately felt better.  The ride being lots of fun despite a few almost stacks, the presence of quite a few laughs and the beautiful scenery probably helped too.

With a few more Ups, maybe I’ll get just as kick-ass. I don’t need to declare war on the Boogeyman. I need to politely ignore him. I just need to stop worrying about him*.

Wish me luck.

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