Since the moment I began to truly ride bikes, I have loved it with my heart and soul. There is such a deep passion for cycling within me, that it can pull me from the deepest depths of my despair and bring me unending joy. But back in June, I wrecked on my beloved Trek Lush mountain bike. I crashed badly, but walked away with some road rash and bruises.
As I dusted off, checked my vision and verified I was able to ride home, I thought through all of the what ifs of the crash, and it hit me how badly I could have been hurt. Everyone told me to get right back on the bike, but I truly hurt too badly to do so, or I told myself.
As days turned to weeks, I would eye my bike warily from across the room. I felt betrayed. I know it sounds silly, but I put my trust and faith in my bike to carry me safely along the trails, and in my eyes, it had failed me. What once was my most trusted companion was now a stranger. The inanimate item I had placed my faith in, now was just a piece of metal against my wall.
It made me feel as though I had lost my religion. I felt so far apart from my favorite places out on the trails. I tried to return to nature, my church, but was lost and unsure, wary that maybe I would find none of what I used to, that without my trust in my bike, riding was but a hollow activity, one full of fear and uncertainty. Although not religious, I assume this must be how one feels after they lose their faith in their god and the inanimate adornments and rituals that once brought them solace.
It took a lot of time to examine my deepest fears that came to life when I approached trails, descents, berms, rocks….I had to come to terms with the fact that my bike is nothing more than a vessel to deliver me to my passion. I had to believe once again that I could ride these trails without fear, understand there is no guarantee of safety and embrace the unknown. I had to be less naive, more aware that in life there is only an illusion of safety.
This weekend I returned to Phil’s World, where I raced and trained last spring, and forced myself to tackle the trails as I used to, to once again put my trust in myself and my faith in my bike. As I returned to the trailhead 18.7 miles later, smiling from ear to ear, I breathed in deeply and was born again a mountain biker.