Welcome to my blog.
Welcome to my blog.
For those of you who are not familiar with my favorite ways to spend my free time, I love mountain biking. I began riding in 1990 with friends from high school. One of them raced on a professional mountain bike team, but the rest of us wanted to get some exercise and get away from the busy streets of Silicon Valley. My only stress outlet as a child was through strenuous physical activity. The first time I was invited to join my buddies on a ride up the Los Altos Hills back roads to the Santa Cruz Mountains, I was excited to go. I had seen tons of amazing pictures in their mountain bike magazines laying around. I couldn’t wait to take in views like that in person. So, it’s a bit funny that my first mountain bike ride - I absolutely hated it! It was hard. No, it was super hard. Where my friends seemed to just bound up the 5-plus mile constant steep grade of Monte Bello Ridge road, for me it was an arduous effort just to keep them in view hundreds of feet ahead. It felt like my legs were made of concrete and my lungs were made of inflexible steel. Once at the top, we made our way down as it started pouring rain. Then came the thunder and lightning. By the time I got home, I was drenched in water and mud as if I had just completed a Tough Mudder event on bike. I was freezing cold, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and shivering from head to toe. For some reason, that I clearly did not understand in any way, my buddies thought that was one of the best rides of their lives. How in the world could these insane people think this way?! I was certain I would never go riding again.
Well, one day soon after the guys invited me to go on another ride, to a different trail this time. OK, sure, I could do that. Not only was the trail different, it was fit for a beginner like me. The climbs weren’t as steep, not were they as unrelenting as Monte Bello Ridge seemed to be to me back then. Fremont Older park was much easier - more frequent opposing changes in elevation meant more payoffs more quickly after each shorter climb. Now this was what I had hoped mountain biking would be like. After many more trips to Fremont Older and other lower altitude trails, I got bit by the mountain bike bug and got bit hard.
I have been riding mountain bikes ever since. I have ridden a ton of great trails and mountains. I even got the itch to start racing an amateur series at Prairie City in 2012 and 2013. I was riding six to seven days per week, so much that I finally understood why competitive cyclists all but refused to take a day off from riding. The first day back in the saddle feels like that day on Monte Bello Ridge - concrete for legs and steel for lungs. Not good. It’s amazing how we adapt to our environments without realizing it. I had been riding so much and so hard that I even won quite a few races and placed top 3 many times. When I first started mountain biking, it was painful and arduous. Now, climbing steep unrelenting grades is one of my best strengths on a bike. I actually love it. When I raced, I would literally leave my cohort in the dust on the climbs. I have never been into downhilling fast (aka “bombing”), so climbing is where I made my competitive mark.
Thinking back to my first ride, I remember how much I hated climbing. Today, I absolutely love it! What changed? Trails are still steep, the heat of summer is still brutal, and though bikes are now lighter with better technology, they still don’t pedal themselves. The only significant difference is my mindset. I have committed to the process, practiced many repetitions, and adapted to the challenging environment. I did not and could not pay someone else to do the work for me. It took one day at a time of hard work, becoming aware of my strengths and limitations, then regularly challenging myself to go further. At some point, work became play. My mindset is similar in other areas of life as well. I am rarely daunted by challenges anymore. I know that for everything I don’t know, I am able to figure it out as I go along. Life is about forward motion and forward progress. Like in cycling, in life you have to keep up your effort to keep moving forward and keep from falling over.
I would like you to think for a moment about something in your life that challenged you significantly. How did you overcome that obstacle? Or, did you? If not, what is the impact of the roadblock in your life? What would you need in order to start overcoming that challenge today? How would your life be different if you did overcome it? What do you think the meaning of this challenge is in your life?
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for more thoughts, questions, and tips.