Yesterday I got a great lesson in hubris that we all have to learn from time to time. I had a pretty good OTB crash coming down the entrance to Horsethief Bench at the first of the two crux moves you have to make, an off camber roll down a short vertical rock face. That moves feeds you into another section of off-camber slickrock for a few feet before you have to be completely back under control to make another tough move with high consequences.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the crash, including wet sand on slickrock, but the main thing was that I didn’t fully respect the trail and focus on the task at hand. Instead of being focused and confident I rolled up to the move with a “let’s see how it looks” attitude and didn’t decide to go for it as soon as I should have.

To make matters worse, I started to focus on what was coming up after the roll before I had actually cleared my front tire of the notch I had to roll down. My front wheel got caught up and I got flipped over the bars. I thought I had things under control until my hands slipped out on the wet sand on top of the slickrock and the next thing I felt was my nose and lips compressing against the rock.

Luckily nothing was broken and I didn’t even bleed except for a few abrasions and the cut I got on the bridge of my nose from my sunglasses. Even my helmet and sunglasses survived the incident unscathed.

Why you shouldn't lead with your face...
Why you shouldn’t lead with your face…

I certainly got very lucky. When you pay for hubris it is often a lot worse, especially on the trail.

If you don’t know, hubris is a Greek word that mean excessive pride or self-confidence. And as anyone who has ridden bikes for a while can tell you, hubris is something you have to constantly be on guard against.

I’ll fully admit that my hubris got the better of me. After 15 years of pushing limits on mountain bikes and countless times riding through that same move without ever coming close to wrecking I didn’t respect that move like I should have. And it made me pay.

It was a slap in the face that I needed to remind me that the trail is a fun but dangerous place and losing the respect and focus I need for even an instant can have consequences. And if I’m not 100% on for a move I should just hit the brakes and try again some other day.

So this morning I count myself a lucky man and I’m glad that this isn’t an email explaining how I have to take some time off to heal up. I’m also a lot more humble and aware of how I had allowed my hubris to grow and get the better of me. To be honest I’m also grateful for the lesson and I’m ready to go into the 2015 riding season a better rider for it.

So how about you? Got any good stories about how you let hubris get the better of you and it made you pay? What lessons did you learn from the experience? Be sure to drop by this blog post and post a comment below it if you have a story to share, I’d love to hear them.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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