July
25

Scaring the normals…

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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  1. Geoffrey says:

    One word: Tegaderm. makes the whole scrape up thing a whole lot more bearable

    Reply • July 25 at 4:59 pm
    • bikejames says:

      Thanks for the advice, I have Aquaphor that my dad turned me onto and it seems to work pretty well but I’ll have to check that stuff out…

      Reply • July 26 at 8:53 am
  2. Phil says:

    one good thing about crashes is that you get to tell the big story about it afterwards and have the scars to prove it. Maybe some people are impressed, maybe some think you are stupid but who cares. I had a friend that crashed at high speed one time and his bike ended up stuck up in a tree! Now that was funny. Crashes can and I guess need to be learning experiences. the biggest crash I had so far was at about 25 miles an hour. Left my front rim bent, my seat bent, ground up most of the exposed meat on my left side and cracked my helmet. It slowed me down for a bit but then made me more determined to improve my skills. If it wasn’t for the rush factor I don’t know that I would keep riding. Not that I want to crash though…it’s just being on the edge.

    Reply • July 25 at 6:54 pm
    • bikejames says:

      I really hate crashing too, I just don’t seem to bounce as well as I did 10 years ago. I jokingly tell people that my only trick is keeping it rubber side down but crashing is just part of the game no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I crashed pedaling uphill the other day, not nearly as funny as wiping out doing something more scary.

      Reply • July 26 at 8:54 am
  3. Marty says:

    When I was reading today’s blog post I couldn’t help but laugh your comments as there are so true.

    My riding buddy has a T-Shirt that says “Determination” The feeling you get right before your try to do something incredible stupid.

    Like you said that is what life and riding is all about. If you wait for exciting moments in life to come to you they will be few and far between. You need to take advantage of every moment and live life like it could be your last day.

    Jimi Day said to me what if when life ends it’s just over no heaven no hell – man that would really suck !

    Reply • July 26 at 6:17 am
    • bikejames says:

      Yeah, life is too short to wait for it to get exciting….

      Reply • July 26 at 9:05 am
  4. Lucas says:

    I love what you say about pushing yourself on the bike. I’ve been riding for years and last year felt a bit like I was just going through the motions, shuffling around on the trail. This year I decided to make mountain biking fun again. I have made an effort to increase my skills and strength (thanks to your site and to Gene Hamilton) and went out and picked up an all-mountain bike, switched to flats with 510s and am having more fun on the trails then I have in years. I’ve been out riding harder and faster than ever and have been seeking out new and more challenging trails and have been loving every minute of it.

    The bumps and brusies come with the territory, but the thrill of riding is back.

    Reply • July 27 at 9:18 am
  5. Joe says:

    This reminds me of an event that happened over 15 years ago. I was living in Bozeman, MT at the time and had acquired four 70+ ski day seasons. My skiing had progressed significantly in those years mostly due to the fact I had amazing terrain to play in and my group of friends were all better than me.

    A friend whom I grew up skiing with came to visit and I was eager to show him all the secret stashes… I noticed he was really struggling and most of all had trouble in the moguls.

    Being able to ski moguls well is like being good at manual a bike on the trail ~ once you can ski moguls the whole mountain opens up with new options.

    I spent a few hours working with him on technique and form ~ but he consistently got bucked out after the 3rd or 4th bump. I could tell he was growing very frustrated and I felt a little lost in how to help him. My friend had excellent fundamentals but he is also a very analytical person and likes to gather 100% of the information and think his way through problems. I am very much a Bull ~ I will take in 50% of the information and charge in (he calls me reckless).

    In a bit of frustration I told him “You just need to pick a line and attack it ~ let your momentum carry you through the bumps ~ hold your line even if you are going to crash” He actually did it and I watched him crash about four times on the 6th & 7th mogul. After the fourth crash a light bulb went off in his head and he started being able to flow the moguls.

    By the end of his trip he was seeking out mogul fields and flowing. It has been amazing to see how much breaking that little barrier has opened up his skiing … A few years later I moved to Park City and he was confidently dropping in on 45+ deg faces, shoots, bowls, and backcountry hikes.

    We can’t always think our way through something – at some point you just have to let it all hang out and commit.

    Reply • July 28 at 10:17 pm
  6. Brady says:

    I’m going to forward this to my parents to read. Maybe then they will understand why when I just came home from Santa Cruz with a broken collar bone all I can talk about is going back to hit the trails I missed.

    Reply • August 7 at 1:17 pm

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