After getting up on the main trail, and toughing through the first part of the ride, the steep uphill, I was ready to go, go, go. Once I felt comfortable, and my breathing evened out, I realized there were distractions all around. I equate it to skiing. The moment you begin to think how peaceful things are, bam, you are on your butt. It is important to pay attention all of the time. By looking at the road or slope ahead, you can gauge how quickly you have to react or if you have a moment to relax and enjoy the view for a minute.
The first big detractor on the trail is the rocks. Some are small and tricky to maneuver, while others are large and need a strategy to tackle. The bikes at Miraval are top-notch. Just about the best mountain bikes on the market. I had to trust in the tool that was going to help me get over these rocks.
The key I found was to look ahead, but not too far. The minute I would get focused on a rock down the road, I would skid on or hit a rock that was closer to me head on. It reminded me of the old saying about fear, that 90% of the things we worry about will never end up happening. If we look too far ahead and focus on that one big boulder, we are wasting our efforts because there are lots of other obstacles to get through before that boulder. And, what if there is a clear path next to the boulder we cannot see because we are too far off in the distance?
The rocks to me represent everyday bumps in the road. We all have them, and it is how we deal with them that develops our character. These are the everyday challenges we all face as parents, spouses, students, employees, clients, neighbors, siblings, children, and friends. And, the rocks closest to us are the challenges we have to overcome as they come upon us. Some are bigger than others, and you can tackle them easily. While some look small and easy to tackle, and end up seeming ten times larger than their original size.
The rocks are all about our own perception. How we size them up in our minds. And, how we perceive them is how we attack them. These rocks have been in place for likely hundreds of years so the best way to cross over them is definitively and decisively. Since I was behind Matt, if I saw him have an easy time, I would follow him. If I saw him bobble or make a move I was not comfortable with, I would choose another way on the path.
I realized this is the same way I problem-solve in my daily life. When I see someone struggle with something that is seemingly simple, I make sure I don’t head in that direction. And, on the flip side, if there is a decision or an issue I have been dealing with and I watch someone solve it with ease, I am going to follow their lead. There is no need to forge your own path unless nobody else has gone before you.
The second detractor on these paths is the cactus. These beautiful and sometimes harmful plants are allowing us into their homes. For the most part, they have been cleared off paths, but can definitely seem like they reach out and grab you when you least expect them. And, ouch do they hurt when their spines go right through your clothes and shoes.
On my first ride ever at Miraval, Neil, who is one of the head adventure guides, told our beginner group to look where you want to go and not where you don’t want to. Sounds so simple, but it is so true. If we are focused on bad things happening, don’t we always seem to naturally drive ourselves into that wrong direction?
Likely the most annoying detractor on the path is the gnats. When it is early they are not out, but once that sun is above the mountains, they are up in full swing ready to annoy. You can avoid the swarms you can see from far away by ducking or riding in a different direction. But, don’t forget about those rocks and boulders, and oh yes, the cactus.
I look at gnats as those annoyances that you want to be able to shake but cannot. That annoying comment that someone made to you that really hurt your feelings but you cannot let it roll off your back. The gossip you hear at school drop off that you know you should not engage in. Spam emails. Your Facebook friend who is always pontificating their political views without any consideration for anyone else’s feelings. Items like this create a swarm of gnats. Many times you cannot fully avoid them, and sometimes you come back from a ride covered in gnats. But, in order to stay focused it is important to avoid as many as possible. Of all the obstacles on the trail, these are the easiest to avoid. Especially when you have a clear path ahead. It becomes harder to control when you have rocks, boulders and cactus in the way to steer clear of these swarms. That it is why it is so important to avoid them when your path ahead is clear. It makes it so much easier to become good at avoiding them when the road ahead is full of distractions.
Last but not least, watch for snakes. They are quiet and sly and fast and dangerous. The snake is the unexpected, out of the blue, totally throws you for a loop distraction. It raises your heart rate and makes you think about how you really problem solve. On this trip, I had a close encounter with a snake that I will never forget. More on that later.
Check out parts I and II of this series: