Lessons from Mountain Biking

Okay, I was sold a bill of goods. I was told that there was a wide rolly trail from Sunriver, OR to Bend. I saw it as a great opportunity to rent a bike, spend time in a gorgeous outdoor setting with my husband and exercise my wide rolly body.

Oregon Trail Rash

All of the above was true. We took a fabulous ride. I got to spend time with my favorite person and it was great exercise but it was a much more difficult and technical trail than I had anticipated. I admit that there was a short period of time where I was a bit miffed at my darling husband but now, after the fact and after a good glass of red wine, did it matter?

When we started off on our ride this morning, my beloved husband gave me a quick lesson. When you get into the difficult rocky terrain;

1. plan your line of travel,

2. look forward, and

3. keep pedaling.

I don’t mountain bike often and as one who likes to be in control, I found letting loose on the downhill much more difficult than pedaling uphill. But I did keep contemplating J2’s words as I traveled. Is this advice limited to mountain biking or can we draw a broader interpretation?

Similarly to what I do when I take walks, I kept thinking this post through as I rode. Find my line of sight. Look forward and keep pedaling. While perfectly appropriate on the mountain bike trail, I think this helpful hint translates to other venues in life. Whether we’ve just received the news that we or a loved one is facing a serious illness, when we know there’s a tough economic circumstance in our path or when a change at work is going to create a particularly rough patch; doesn’t it make sense to determine our path, look forward to the future and keep pedaling?

I’m a planner so maybe thoughts like this resonate with me more than others. Following advice like this doesn’t eliminate our opportunity to tweak or change our path in the future, it simply applies confidence to our decision. In fact, if you checked out the photo above, you probably surmise that I had to alter my course. I’d love to tell you that I got the injury through a tough patch where lava chards were targeting my knees, ankles and crotch but the fact is, I fell on a bed of slippery pine needles on really flat terrain. Still, I learned and became more cautious in that scenario.

We face a lot of uncertainty today. Will we raise the debt limit? What happens if we do? Should we bring troops home? Is that a risk? Where should we be investing our income? Where should our kids go to school? Will our current city provide the constructive politics and scenario that we believe is possible for future growth? There aren’t specific answers to any of these questions. Rather, we have to pick a line of sight, raise our heads and look to the future, and then pedal like crazy.

Are you with me?

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70 Comments

  1. Ouch! Perhaps though, the contributing cause of your fall was also your salvation. Pine needles are much softer than lava! I’m glad you weren’t hurt worse!

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  2. Ouchie … not fun at all :(

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  3. Eric

     /  July 8, 2011

    I like it. Sometimes I feel like I’m more of an ox than a driver. Love from India to you! – E

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  4. I love it. Not knowing what to expect makes me feel like moving forward. I love adventurous outdoor activities… mountain biking is one of my favourite and a little fall always give us a good laugh :)

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  5. Hope your elbow heals soon

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  6. that is some wonderful advice! it’s too easy to look down at the small bit of real estate at our feet and lose the big picture…

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    • Thanks Daisy. I agree. We need to know that we will get through it if we just keep pedaling.

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  7. What great advice! I might feel differently about it though if I was the one on the mountain bike! Thank you for sharing this, for making the connection for us, for helping us over the rough and slippery places!
    And I hope your elbow feels better soon!

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    • You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment Debbie. Of course, keeping our eyes on God is helpful.

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  8. Great advice for cycling and life . . .

    Of course, at times I prefer to kick back and coast to give myself a respite from pedaling. :mrgreen:

    Enjoy the journey!

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    • I like the coasting too Nancy as long as it’s not too fast and out of control.

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  9. Keep your eyes on the prize, and enjoy the view as you go. . .I’m with you! However, as Nancy said, you gotta know when to stop pedaling every once in a while! :-D

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  10. carrie

     /  July 8, 2011

    I love to hear that you went mtn biking Tammy! Welcome to my world! I also appreciate and identify your interpretation of J2’s lesson, I have been attempting to change careers for quite some time now. Picking the line of sight was the most difficult, although I think it is becoming much clearer now. I’m getting close to having the strength to look forward and start pedaling like crazy!

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    • Hey Carrie, nice to see you here. I thought of you yesterday when I hit the ground – thinking I might have broken a collar bone or something. Congratulations on your marriage. That will be great support for you as you change careers.

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  11. Sorry to see you bit the dust on your biking adventure, but at least you got a good story out of it and I think you were among the few on the trip to not get a bad sunburn. Thanks again for your sharing your insights with me and I plan on hitting you up on advice and I try to build my own following.

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  12. Kevin

     /  July 8, 2011

    I’m with you, sister! One of my personal mantras is, “Proceed with confidence.” Simple, but it has important components. “Proceed.” In life our circumstances, environment, communities, etc. will move along. You have to move along too. You can’t stand still, so pedal like crazy. “With Confidence.” Pick your line of travel and commit to it.
    When I come to an unfamiliar situation, I say this mantra and dive in. I think you do too.

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  13. Sally

     /  July 8, 2011

    You are hot and you rock. We all fall down, you got up and finished. Your thoughts are valuable thoughts for us all to consider! Thanks Tammy.

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  14. Love this, Tammy: it takes plenty of hard graft , an approximate direction and lots of positive expectation to be happy. Fantastic metaphor :-)

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  15. I’m a planner like you, so maybe the hardest lesson I had to learn was that things don’t like to be planned as I imagine. This challenges me because I want control, but I totally lack it in my life: I’ve decided to go for an academic career, which means hard work, little chances, and temporary employment. I’ve been loving a certain man for 3 years and still don’t know whether he likes me back, and the outer conditions are very tricky. I’d never have known if I’d be able to live like that, but I can. If you have no choice, you can. And interestingly, I’m not even less happy compared to other times of my life, probably because I’ve practiced living in the moment so much during the past year.

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  16. oh no! so sorry to hear about your fall!

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  17. The ability to adapt and change on the fly in all situations is a great lesson. In the years to come climate change, energy descent, and water issues will all test our resilience, so yes, there are definitely life lessons here!

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    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree that we’re going to have to adapt and be resilient.

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  18. Something tells me you will be doing more of this great sport!

    Good decision-making, my American neighbours. Choose wisely. The world is connected!

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  19. adaptation, resiliency, confidence–all good qualities highlighted in this post, and in the thread of comments. It’s important to keep moving, keeping an eye ahead on the destination–while being open to whatever changes that come along on the journey. expect the unexpected!

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  20. Sorry to hear about your crash. But I like how you adapted and learned from it.

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    • Thanks Kathy. I should’ve waited to take the picture – it looks much worse now. ;-)

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  21. I’m with you. Great advice . The “Keep pedaling” is what gets us through to the other side. Besides, what other choice to we have? Thanks for your optimism and faith. It is sorely needed right now.

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    • You’re welcome Bradley. It’s important to keep going and to set ourselves up as the role models for doing so.

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  22. Tammy – you’re right. Your husband’s advice is very helpful in a wide variety of situations. As I washed through my friend Becky’s journey from diagnosis to death in 111 days one of my theme songs was “If you’re going through Hell keep on going”. Or as we say in circles in which I travel, “do the next right thing.”

    Great post! Thanks! And hope that elbow is healing up!

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  23. I really liked how this got you thinking, great analogy.
    Rather, we have to pick a line of sight, raise our heads and look to the future, and then pedal like crazy.That is so true, Tammy, we have to pick a line of sight, raise our heads and look to the future, and then pedal like crazy. Or like I say after a friend of mine stated it: leap and the net will appear.

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  24. Bless your heart! I hope your elbow gets better soon! Great analogy!

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  25. Ouch that looks sore ;-(

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  26. Lisa H

     /  July 11, 2011

    Way to go Tammy! You are a trooper for going on such a ride. Your outlook is a good one.

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  27. Yes, I am right there with you in every way! The guidelines make sense while my life is turning upside down. And I learned something more about bikes myself yesterday – the evil contraption I have been trying to get in shape for riding threw me yesterday as I just left the driveway for a test drive. Palms and chest-first into the very chunky gravel, then a puzzle to figure out to untangle myself. A little blood, some bruises, lots of antibiotic ointment and some band-aids – just like life’s other challenges. Do what gets you through and know where your first aid kit is at all times! And never ride that particular bike again….

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    • I am so sorry Cris. I love the piece about knowing where your first aid kit is at all times.

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  28. I am with you. I cast a vote, pray for the troops and try to be smart with my money.

    Control what you can control. Think about about the rest, worry about it some, but don’t let it overwhelm you and leave a little time for what you like to to do.

    PS
    If what you like to do doesn’t come with some risk, a skinned arm or more, then how much fun can it really be?

    Great post!!!!

    http://timkeen40.wordpress.com

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    • Thanks Tim. I think the real message is that we don’t really control much even if we try to believe that we do.

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  29. Im with you. Though that gash looks real bad, down the line this is what will make you proud. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go down the grave without experiencing every bit of life, unscathed- count cuts, stitches, bandages, whatever it takes to conquer the unconquerable. The goal is easy, its the road that makes life thrilling. WELL DONE!

    I know, for a girl, I’m a bit too, I dont know, practical? But I like falling down so that I get a chance to rise again. To me, every rise is success. That’s really how I am.

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  30. Oh no! I think I’ll stick to the even surfaced trails. For me, even those can be dangerous!

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    • Yeah, like I said, I was on pretty flat stuff when it happened and as Montucky points out, that’s a blessing.

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  31. I’m about to become a cyclist again after thirty-odd years, so this particularly resonates today.

    I like how you transfer the rules to life in general.

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  32. Good one …. adds character, wear it with pride, lol!

    One more thing… assume the best outcome and relinquish the need to know what’s going to happen next. All you need to know is that you’ll figure it out when the time comes….

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  33. Much better than being sold a bill of goods on a (“nice, gentle”) water park ride. No exercise and I was quesy for hours!

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    • Yes, I think you’re right. I’ve never liked looking around at the crowds there.

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  34. oh damn that looks painful but im sure worth the fun you went through on the mountain bike :)

    Reply

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