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This weekend, I finally got back on my bike after a month of no riding due to surgery. Last fall, I purchased a new mountain bike that is a mean trail machine. Getting back on the bike last fall after almost a year of not riding felt like heaven. The trails around San Antonio are more technical that I am used to riding in the mountains so there was a bit of a learning curve.

The best part about living where I do now is that I can ride 365 days a year if I wanted to (despite winter rains that make trails wet for a short time). I found some stellar locals to ride with and the rest is history. Mountain biking has become my insanity cleanser and stabilizer. It has the ability to ground my mind and calm my soul. The last few weeks off have brought that fact to the forefront as a bit of the crazies set in.

Thankfully, I was able to still hike and get out so it helped stabilize my mind. Facilitating recreation therapy (RT) with people with cognitive disabilities takes a lot of personal grounding. This is where outdoor sports, such as mountain biking, help me to ground and stay calm in situations that can be taxing on a daily basis.

The thing about mountain biking for me is that it is a full body workout and one you can’t really get at the gym. Mountain biking relates to life in certain respects. It teaches you life lessons that venture beyond the trail. The goal is to ride and not fall – as in life we aim to get it all done with out fail, but life doesn’t work that way. Bumps in the trail/life happen all the time. It’s how you manage those bumps along the way that matters.

Here are some life lessons learned from mountain biking.

  1. Get Back On Your Bike After A Crash

Mountain biking can take you far in the countryside many miles from the road. If you fall or crash in the backcountry you must get up, brush off the dirt and keep going. The thought of staying where you are is probably not an option, so you must get back on, continue to ride to get back. Just like in life, if we fail, we must get back up and continue on.

  1. Look Where You Want To Go

Look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. I have talked about this concept before with whitewater kayaking. This is especially important in mountain biking and works like a charm to not go face first into a tree. When you look ahead (or follow the trail) you naturally and mindfully follow a path of least resistance. In life, we need to be looking where we want to go, but remember thinking about what might or might not be can create unnecessary anxiety and stress.

  1. It’s All About Balance

The main skill of mountain biking is balance in motion. Life too, is in constant motion. If we resist the motion or movement, we will fall. While riding we must maintain a specific speed to keep balance and that speed changes with the terrain. As in life, we must maintain our speed to capture a healthy balance of work and play. If we pursue too many things we will crash and need to slow down. People who hail from mountain towns are excellent at work-life balance. In the winter they frequently hang “gone skiing” signs in the shop window on a powder day. Most likely on a random sunny day in the summer the sign will say “gone fishing.” Those who live in the town will most likely be on the ski hill or river along side them. They understand what it takes to keep proper speed in life to stay upright and healthy.

In the end it’s not about the car you drive, or the house you live in, it’s about making time for yourself and what makes you happy. Decide what your priorities are and do not cram everything in at once. We, unfortunately, cannot plan for every event in our life, but we can focus our energy on efficiencies and sustaining life’s speed to stay balanced. If you can manage your speed effectively it will lead to a well balanced and fairly stress free life.

Peace be with you this week. Diana

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