Cycling Stories

Growth, Step 1: Accept Reality

November 25, 2019


Growth, Step 1: Accept Reality

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Joe Klass

My gaze follows the trail’s lines upward. About 50 feet ahead, I’m met with a section of outcroppings, ledges, and fist-sized rock chunks.

Shifting inward, I imagine my front tire rising as it summits the biggest ledge. Next, my weight shifts forward, and I feel my back tire grip the dirt, then rising to meet me.

Still balanced, I make a sharp 90-degree turn, already prepared to dance among the low, pockmarked boulders immediately after.

I shift outward. Following a deep breath, I push my left foot from the trail’s loose dirt and pebbles and clip into my pedal. 

The first section is relatively benign, so I clear it with a breeze.

On the gnarly ledge, though, my rear tire loses traction, spins out, and sucks my momentum. In a last-ditch effort to remain upright, I unclip and place my foot back onto the ground.

Momentarily defeated, my eyes protest against its sun’s rays, beaming unhindered through bluebird skies.

At this point, I have two choices.

I can indulge my ego, get pissed off, broadcast shitty energy to everyone else on the trail, and poison the remainder of my ride.

After all, my ego proclaims that I can clear this section. And now that its expectations don’t meet reality, it demands that I kick and scream—lash out—like a petulant child.

It whispers: ‘The problem isn’t you, it’s ABC and XYZ.’

Or, I can choose to accept the fact this wasn’t my best run, roll back down the trail, and give it another shot.

Then, if repeated failure reveals that I lack the necessary skillset, I can train harder, return later, and try once again to achieve success.

On the one hand, an ego-driven approach is outside-in. The problem isn’t me; it’s always something else — an ever-rotating game designed to shield me from blame.

On the other, by choosing an inside-out perspective, I have the opportunity to view this momentary setback as a gift—one that will ultimately improve my mountain biking. Then, in the future, I can clear even gnarlier trail obstacles and sections.

Skewing reality through the lens of my ego is the easy way out. It allows me to avoid uncomfortable self-analysis and putting in the necessary work for growth.

Instead, wrapping my ego in compassionate understanding—allowing myself to experience and overcome discomfort—opens the door to transformation.

Not just as an improved rider, though. Once expanded to every part of my life, looking inside before reacting outside allows me to transform into a more softhearted human being.

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist, and is the founder of TreadBikely. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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