Sometimes I’m reminded that the desire to purposefully put yourself into harms way on a mountain bike is not normal – and that’s one of the reasons that I love it so much. For example, last night I was hitting some jumps at the The Ranch and got a little too whipped out on one and couldn’t pull it back in before I landed. My tires went out from under me and I did a nice baseball slide on my left side, turning my elbow into hamburger and scraping up my knee and bruising my left hip.

I got up, dusted myself off, did a quick assessment and went back up to the top of the run and kept riding. I don’t know why but I tend to laugh wrecks off – literally. Something about laughing makes keeps it all in perspective and stops my mind from getting screwed.

However, now I have a pretty gnarly looking elbow wound and walk with a bit of a limp and I’ll have to spend the next few days telling everyone its alright, I’m fine. It really makes me realize how most people simply do not deal with injuries on a consistent basis and so every scrape and bruise becomes a big deal.

The “normals”, as I call them, just don’t get why I’d do this to myself. Why would you drop in on something on your bike with no guarantee of safety?

I’ve always felt that it that aspect of mountain biking is kind of like Fight Club – Fight Club wasn’t really about fighting, it was about feeling alive and you never feel more alive than when you’re safety is in danger.  It was about stepping out of society’s norms and remembering what it is like to face your fears and punch them as hard as you can.

I’ve talked about them before, the “hell or high water” moments where you are going to go for something that you aren’t quite sure you can do but you do it anyways. I got my first taste of it riding down a staircase when I got my first mountain bike and it has fueled part of my passion for riding ever since. Seeking those moments of truth have led me to be able to ride things I never thought I would be able to and nothing makes me feel better than conquering something I initially thought was beyond my reach.

I hate to say it but this mindset is present in a lot of mountain bikers, those who never really push themselves past their comfort zone and face whatever their fears are on the trail. They’re the ones who look at my scars, flat pedals and long travel trail bike and write me off as a downhill guy with nothing to offer them. They ride the same trails the same way over and over and while I’m sure they’re happy with it, they’re really missing out on something wonderful that mountain biking has to offer.

So here’s to “scaring the normals” – its one of my favorite parts of mountain biking. Let them shuffle around through life and on the trail, I’m going to keep charging hard and I hope I never get to the point that the threat of loosing some skin stops me from trying something new. As my little girl told me one time after coming home a little busted up “good job for riding hard”!

-James Wilson-

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