There are easier places to learn how to mountain bike than the ski area at Angel Fire, New Mexico. Then again, lessons learned while hurtling down what in the winter months could be a black diamond slope, tend to stick. Some insights, like how to wrap an Ace bandage for optimum ankle support after an (unscheduled) flying dismount, I’m happy to have gotten a little rusty on. Others, like how avoid large, immobile objects like trees, rocks and lift towers, I apply every day. Because, no surprise, it turns out this tip is handy for obstacles both physical and non.
Simply: Don’t stare at what you want to avoid.
As a novice off-road cyclist, I’d lock onto whatever obstacle was growing (alarmingly) larger in my path. And steer right into it. Lucky for me (and my limbs) a more experienced companion had some sage advice: Rather than looking at the obstacle in your path, focus on a way around it.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Obstacles can feel magnetic, sucking energy and optimism even while we resist the pull. And it’s not like the path around is always well lit and lined with pine needles. Finding it can be tricky but, in the end, there’s almost always another way to get down (or up, for that matter) a hill.
The peskiest rock in my path is expectation. If you’re like me, it’s a hard one to ignore, but I’ve been practicing releasing expectations about how my life should look. I’m feeling pretty confident. So I’ll just hop on my bike and start pedaling. Picking up some speed now...what a beautiful ride! Wait a minute, is that something up ahead? Hold on, I think there’s something in my wa—