The other day, I forced myself to make time to go outside and play. It was ahead of some rain, and Earth Burger was debuting some new menu items, so it seemed like the perfect excuse/opportunity to go ride at Mac. And it was for a little bit, but then it hit me: I was operating at maximum capacity.
Mountain biking (or anything in life, really) requires split-second decision making. When I first took up the sport, I was unable to really get into or enjoy it because I was without insurance; I couldn’t afford to get hurt. Once my insurance kicked in, though, mountain biking became fun. Really, really fun. Or for a while, anyway.
Fast-forward to now. I’m back to no longer being able to afford to hurt myself (I mean, I have insurance, but the insurance I have is crummy, at best.) but it’s more the myriad other things on my plate: Mortgage. Small children. Wife. Wife (same one) with debilitating neurological disease. Stresses of job. Stresses of serving as sole caretaker & caregiver for aforementioned kids & wife. All of these things play continuously in the back (and often forefront) of my mind, inhibiting my ability to oftentimes be present for much of anything. And when that something is tearing or even tooling around a trail, it’s tough to do. It’s near-impossible to be in the moment when the mind is constantly reassessing prior moments to find means of improvement while also planning out the moments ahead: Dinner or whatever meal is next up. Clean-up. Kids’ hygiene. Wife’s hygiene. Own hygiene? Work obligations. Tending to the house. The car. The dog.
I’m regularly told to take care of myself, too. And I try, I really do. But finding moments to be in the moment, on or off the bike has become increasingly rare, and the only way to find that time is to sacrifice something else, and it’s just not something I can do in good conscious. So I’m trying to find ways to adapt.
For most mountain biking, there’s a great set of trails at a park some 20 miles or so from home at McAllister Park in San Antonio. On a good day, I can make it from the garage to the trailhead in just over 20 minutes or so. Yet, lately, I’ve been exploring some areas in a creek bed just over a mile from home. I can (and do) ride there. It’s not as extensive of a trail network as what’s offered at Mac (and nothing like Flat Rock Creek, a private ranch reserved for off-road adventures a good chunk of the year, but that’s an even rarer thing, given its sixty-something miles one-way trek), but the creek bed is close to home, and I can get in a good ride with some fun, semi-technical stuff, as well as lots of climbing—in about the same time it would take me just to drive to the park and back. And, to boot, through riding down there I’ve come to meet a couple more riders just in my neighborhood.
My brain, much like my plate, is very full. While it does inhibit me from being even a quarter as skilled as many of my peers, I understand it is not my defining factor. It’s but one tooth in a cog, and sometimes, one just needs to simply shift gears to go faster, do better, be better.
Thanks for reading.