Once I had my desert legs, my confidence continued to climb as high as the altitude. I was much more sure of myself even as the terrain got tougher. I knew what to anticipate and how to use the bike as an ally rather than an enemy. I could handle a lot more than I thought I could, and the bike was a big part of that.
When first getting on the bike, I looked at is as an adversary. It was me against the bike, and I was going to win. As I started to ride, I would think, do I click the gears on the left to make it easier or harder? On the right, do I hold the gears for a long time to make it easier? It took a bit of time to get comfortable. Once I did, the gear shifting became second nature. The lesson here is use the tools around you to your advantage, and don’t be intimidated to get what you need out of them.
On the bike there are gears, shocks and brakes. The brakes are likely the best tools for the unsure rider. But, the challenge becomes not to squeeze both breaks all at once when you face an obstacle. Matt taught me about shifting my body rather than squeezing the brakes. Lean back when you need to so your bike can ease over larger obstacles. And, use your back brakes or front brakes to make sure you are equalizing your bike based on your position. Use the tools you have at your fingertips to make sure you are always doing the best you can with each situation you are facing at the time.
If the bike needs a tune up, take it in to get fixed. Procrastinating rarely makes things easier. Do what you need to do, and do it now. It reminded me to not to postpone joy. If I can invest some time knowing my life will be much improved in the future, I do it. And, I do it as quickly as I can. If I can see someone like Matt taking a path with ease, why not follow him to get me where I need to be more swiftly and easily?
When I was first starting off in my career, I thought if I reached out for help or to find a mentor, it would be a sign of weakness. I realize now, it a huge sign of strength. I wasted so much time and energy following paths that were dead ends, or totally approaching them from the wrong perspective. Asking for help and observing others who are modeling the behavior or action you want is the best way to learn. Take what you like, and leave the rest.
What goes up must come down. After about two hours of the climb, it is time to head back down. All terrain is not created equal. The view on the way up can look much different on the way down. I love a big, long downhill. I don’t like to just coast down, I like to pedal down to really find out what I am made of. I may slow down a bit when I see a big boulder to make sure I anticipate the ride. The important thing to remember is not to stare at the boulder, but to look for a way to get around it.
Suddenly, in what seems like minutes to come down, you can see Miraval. The familiar rooms and spa and beautiful dining room. I am so proud of a ride well done, and am looking forward to a healthy breakfast with my friend Sherri and a long shower followed by a spa treatment. Maybe I should read by the pool?
My mind wandered as we went over the sandy wash that separates the public land from the private, safe confines of the resort. Riding along on the path, Matt abruptly stops his bike and gets off. He quietly tells me to stay where I am. My mind is elsewhere, on the future hours of my day at this point. Then, once I comprehend the urgency in his voice, I realize there is a huge rattle snake lodged in between us. And, the snake was easing his way towards me. What did I realize in that moment? Always expect the unexpected.