Several years ago I watched a classic movie called North Shore. It tackled the complicated issue of surfing for money, or surfing for “the love”. It is an ’80s cult film perfectly executed. In fact, you could pair it with Rad (the greatest film ever made, no?) and have the ultimate soul rider collection.
As absurd (absurdly awesome) as those two films are, I can’t help but realize that these days I have become a soul rider. That is, competition has not been my focus this time around. And some days I am alright with that, others, not so much. I miss that focus and edge that competition brings on. There is no date on the calendar that I am anxiously awaiting, preparing for, dreading and looking forward to all at once. Unless of course, you count the date, whenever it happens to be, when the twins arrive.
The absence of that edge was never more obvious than at the ’08 KTR. That was the first time I realized that my state of mind was changing. And while I have competed with relative success in the local XC races, that certain “whatever it is” that is needed to be prepared for big efforts has eluded me.
It is fitting though, that in this my seventh year of competitive riding that I am resting. 2008 is morphing into a sort of sabbath, or sabbatical from the mental and physical energy required to compete over a long season. As I ride, fitness and goals and results are no longer dominating my thought process. No, instead as I glide through the trees and meadows and scrub oak I am content to just be out there. For now anyway.
And on those days when I long for that focus and motivation of competition, when the world seems to be closing in, suffocating the competitive life out of me, drowning me in a bottomless pool of cabin fever induced despair…I can always just watch Rad again.
Mrs. Jones: You’re willing to sacrifice a solid future for a bicycle race. It’s very self-destructive.
Cru Jones: The only thing I’m good at is riding this bike. Now I have the chance to be the best, maybe the best in the world. I can take those S.A.T.’s anytime, maybe in six months. But this is the only chance I’ll ever have at this. I started out as one in a thousand. Now I’m one in twenty. Now to give that up, I think that would be very self-destructive.
KanyonKrisJune 24, 2008
Good post, Adam. Did I share that idea with you, or are we just tuned into the same vibe? Last year the soul surfing idea came to as I was getting burned out on ICUp races.
I loved racing at first – it was new and exciting and propelling me to dig deeper to ride harder and longer. But after a while it felt artificial and forced. The soulful joy I get from mountain biking comes from:
– Swooping and carving down a curvy trail
– Grinding up a long climb by just staying in the moment, cranking the pedals around one more time
– Picking a line and tackling a technical obstacle
– Riding a trail for the first time and seeing what’s around each new bend
– Exploring new trails to see where they take me and if I can even ride them
– Seeing new areas like Moab, Gooseberry Mesa, Brian Head, Arizona
Racing detracts from these experiences. And the more I raced the more I felt the loss. So now I do a few races to get that competitive push, but mostly try to ride for fun to keep the joy alive.
StupidBikeJune 24, 2008
Oh you can have all that and race too.
Grizzly AdamJune 24, 2008
KK I think you nailed it, but so did Bob. Racing adds an extra dimension to all of those things. But sometimes it is good for me to step back, and focus my energy someplace else. It is the ebb and flow of fitness and racing.
But again, you nailed the joy of biking. Mix in a little competition and you have it all–which is exactly what you are doing.