Summer Take-Away

Summer rocks.  Hard to say that I love it more than a crisp Autumn afternoon, a perfect bluebird day on the slopes or a morning full of spring blossoms, but as seasons go, summer is my favorite.

I’m an Aquarius, sign of the water bearer.  I’ve always been a water baby and I still love the water — being in it, on it, by it, watching it.  I also love warm.  Campfires, evenings on the deck, hikes in the woods, rides over the hills.  Summer time, and the livin’ is easy.  School’s out for summer.  Yay!

School is back in session and 2015’s best season is coming to an end.  What did I learn this summer?  To focus on where you want to be.  Hokey, I know.  It was a key lesson in a June mountain biking clinic, and it has been floating around in my mind ever since.

As a rule, I don’t mountain bike.  It always seems really hard and I tend not to like being ground into rocks and dirt when I inevitably fall and I’m a grown-up so I don’t have to do something I don’t want to do.  Right?  Well … I should be open to new things, I thought.  If someone shows me how to do it and shares all those little secret tricks that obviously all the mountain bikers out there know, maybe I’ll like it.  And so, my friend and I signed up for the clinic.

Day one was basics in a parking lot.  We rode around, up curbs, tried some wheelies.  Finished up with a drink at the Dusty Boot.  This mountain biking thing isn’t so bad …  Day two, we were on dirt.  They showed us how to look ahead, anticipate, trust the bike.  Check, check, check.  And then we went on a little trail ride, stopping off here and there to learn about obstacles and switchbacks.  We were faced with our first real hurdle — a little ramp over a log.  To one side was a bunch of tree branches and rocks.  “Don’t look where you don’t want to be,” our guide told us.  “Focus on where you are going, where you want to go.”

Our more experienced riders jumped easily over and rode on.  No problemo.  My friend geared up for the log.  “You got this,” we said with bright smiles.  And then she looked down at the brambly mess.  It felt like slow motion.  As she got to the top of the log, her head turned toward the place she most certainly didn’t want to be and the bike followed.  Ouch.  Confidence shaken, she had several more spills over the rest of the ride.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Ever since, I’ve wondered how many times I have focused on where I didn’t want to be rather than the trail ahead.  How many messy and painful places have I careened into because I couldn’t keep my eyes forward?  I wish I had taken a clinic like this at age 15.  And again at 21, 30, 35 …  You get the picture.

Bad stuff happens.  It is inevitable.  As a planner and an over-thinker, I can focus way too much on how things can get worse, rather than the way out.  Rather than the way things can and do go right.  As the leaves start to change colors and summer sighs her last beautiful breaths, I’m trying to take to heart what I learned in that clinic:  hold on, loosen up, keep your weight centered, absorb the bumps, trust the bike.  Look toward where you want to be.

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