Lessons from the Mountain Bike

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Growing up, I approached life in a somewhat conservative and measured way. I wasn’t much of an adventure seeker. I liked routine, knowing what to expect and what was around the corner. I liked the feeling of doing familiar things; things I was less likely to stuff up.

Over the years since we started Bounce, I’ve discovered a different part of me: a willingness to explore my surroundings, try new things and challenge myself in ways I never have before. This relatively new part of me isn’t motivated by a need for excitement, but rather a desire to learn more about myself. Instead of being a thrill-seeker, I guess I’m what you’d call an awareness-seeker.

So when my good friend invited me to join her for a mountain bike ride (something I’d never attempted before), I took the opportunity – knowing that one way or another I was going to explore new territory.

This bike ride was definitely no walk in the park. I struggled to find my balance and work the gear thing out, whilst negotiating when to change gears and when to use the brakes… all the while trying to pay attention to what was in front of me. In an effort to avoid the rocks, trees, and the occasional group of hikers, I fell off a number of times (I’m afraid to say that a couple of those falls were from a stationary position) acquiring some impressive scratches and bruises. However, I made it back safely, feeling elated. Albeit with a somewhat bruised ego.

Here are some of the lessons I learned about myself on my ride. I hope that by sharing these with you, something stirs within and encourages you to try something new, step outside your comfort zone, and explore some new territory of your own.

  • Lesson No. 1 – Finding Strength in the Face of Resistance One of the things that surprised me during my ride was how much I enjoyed the climb. It’s when I felt my strongest. I loved the feeling of my muscles pumping and the satisfaction of gaining elevation through my own exertion. This got me thinking about my life in general. The things I work really hard for are my proudest achievements. I can really own them. The feeling of gratification gained through applying myself and achieving something good by far outweighs the feeling of being given a free ride.
  • Lesson No. 2 – Trust, Let Go and Enjoy the Ride Going downhill and gathering speed was the scariest part of my ride. It felt like I was losing control and I noticed myself wanting to slow things down in an effort to avoid a possible collision. What should have felt easier was so much more challenging for me. I found myself putting the breaks on too hard, making my tires slip out beneath me, causing a fall. The lesson for me here was to let myself go with just enough of the brakes on to maintain control, breathe, and enjoy the ride. It was also about trusting myself – trusting that I can cope with what’s around the corner (a tree in this instance) and that I can get back up if I fall. This was a powerful reminder for me.
  •  Lesson No. 3 – Stand Up to the Bumps in the Road When going over bumps, standing up seemed to make them much easier to negotiate (and my backside was grateful for it). In life, there are always going to be bumps on the road ahead. Knowing what we stand for, standing tall and bracing ourselves, can help us absorb the rough roads far more easily than if we just take a back seat.
  • Lesson No.4 – Meet Challenges with Breath This is another goodie. When challenged on the ride I’d often find myself panicking and losing my breath, which only made the ride more exhausting. When I remembered to inhale and exhale deeply, my body relaxed and gained the oxygen it needed, and my mind got a much-needed dose of calm. Everything seemed much easier. I’ll have to remember to breathe intentionally whenever I catch myself shallow breathing in the face of everyday life challenges. I’ll feel stronger, more energized, and better able to overcome them.

Getting on that mountain bike for the first time was not just an exercise for my body, but a workout for my mind and soul too. I loved it (despite the ordinary-ness of my cycling ability) and I’m grateful for what it taught me. It was a powerful reminder of how to approach life’s ups and downs, to trust myself and enjoy the ride.

Challenging ourselves in positive ways is part of the “Do Good” philosophy of The Bounce Effect. Trying something new is an opportunity to gain insight and learn something new about ourselves: which is always a good thing. And when we do good things for ourselves, we feel good.

Paula x

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