Updated: May 26
I love mountain biking, and anything related to it always captures my attention. It has truly become a significant part of who I am. Whether it's races, gear, technology, bike maintenance, fitness, nutrition, rides, or simply the bikes themselves, I find myself drawn to it all.
If you were to talk to anyone who knew me or worked with me before 2013, they would have a completely different perception of who I was. Back then, I was a corporate guy striving to climb the ladder, known as a hard-nosed, determined individual who would do whatever it took to succeed. I was a family man and someone who enjoyed a good time with drinks. That version of me, which I would describe as angry, out of shape (mentally and physically), misguided, and out of balance with life, earned the nickname "Meanie Guy" from my young boys. Change was definitely in the forecast.
This year, 2023, marks my unofficial 10-year anniversary in this sport. Interestingly enough, this year has also brought about personal and professional challenges unlike any I've faced before. These uphill battles created a period of intense stress lasting two weeks, which reminded me of the feeling I had before I started mountain biking—a feeling of profound defeat and stress. It made it hard to even fathom getting on my bike. However, I managed to overcome it quickly and completed my annual Bikerpelli ride, as well as rode this past weekend. This made me reflect on what mountain biking and its community have become in my life, and perhaps it holds a special place in your world too.
Mountain biking can serve as an antidote to toxicity. It's easy to get caught up in toxic situations such as dealing with a toxic boss, experiencing the loss of loved ones, navigating toxic family dynamics, or simply feeling a sense of despair, unworthiness, and defeat. We have all found ourselves in such places, and if you haven't yet, you may encounter them someday. I believe that mountain biking acts as an antidote to toxicity. It has become a significant part of my therapy, but I acknowledge the importance of incorporating other practices to navigate these toxic times in life. Here are a few (unscientific) things I do in addition to mountain biking:
1. Rid yourself of noxious habits: We all have little "thorns" in our lives that gradually drain our energy and enthusiasm. Activities like “death-scrolling” through social media platforms or indulging in drugs and alcohol may provide temporary relief, but they hinder personal growth and affect your performance on the bike the next day.
2. Prayer and meditation: As a Christian, I find solace in turning to my faith to calm my spirit. However, the essential aspect is finding a connection back to reality—whether it's through God, the universe, Buddha or practices like meditation. This helps us realize that anxiety often stems from our perception rather than the actual reality.
3. Practice gratitude: If you own a mountain bike and have the privilege to ride it more than five times a year, consider yourself fortunate. Owning this expensive piece of machinery is one thing, but having the means, time, and energy to drive to a trail and engage in this activity for a day is something we should all be grateful for. Take a moment to express gratitude to whatever higher power you believe in, recognizing the privilege you have.
4. Foster forgiveness: Forgiveness is a challenging aspect, but holding onto grudges only burdens our hearts and spirits that leads to anxiety. We need to let go of the weight caused by people who may have wronged us or situations out of our control. By forgiving them and moving on with our lives, we release ourselves from their influence and regain our personal power.
5. Be kind to yourself: We are all guilty of being our own harshest critics, and I can certainly relate. The truth is, nobody expects us to be superheroes or live up to some impossible standard. While it's important to have goals, aspirations, and ambition in life as they drive us to succeed, it's equally important to live in the reality that we can't do it all. Embrace self-compassion and allow yourself to acknowledge your accomplishments and strengths, while also being understanding and forgiving of your flaws and limitations.
Lastly, seek out your friends and loved ones. They are the people who see you for who you truly are, without placing you on a pedestal or expecting you to be perfect. Remember that time you got a little too carried away in Las Vegas and ended up passed out in a flower bed, only to be escorted back to your room by security? Or the time you let anger get the best of you and shattered a 40oz beer bottle in your fraternity's main living room? Those friends know those stories and everything in between. They are an integral part of your life, your support system, and your home. Embrace them and cherish the fact that they don't care about your job, how many miles you've ridden, or how much money you make. They accept you unconditionally for who you are, and that acceptance truly matters in life.
So, as you can probably tell, it has been a strange and challenging month for me. The journey continues to be trying, but amidst it all, I am learning valuable lessons about myself once again. I wanted to share this with you because mountain biking holds great significance in my life, and I believe MHMTB matters. My hope is that this community not only helps you connect with like-minded individuals but also facilitates a deeper connection with yourself. Remember, you are important, and your presence in this world truly matters.