“W..tc… o.. ..or the ..mp!”
“What?” I yelled at my friend as I rode full speed down the last section of almost vertical trail, my fingers clenched tightly around the rear brake lever. I had to be going at least fifteen miles per hour down the hill dodging tree limbs, rocks, and unexpected divots in the ground.
“Watch out for the JUMP!” My buddy Adam bellowed coherently right back at me.
And then he went straight off the five foot drop, catching a couple seconds of air. I was suddenly very that I’d never gone off a jump higher than a sidewalk curb before. It was also only my second time on a mountain bike ever and we’d already been on the trail for two straight hours which had completely drained me. That didn’t matter though because just seeing my friend basically take flight had given me an adrenaline boost like a damn shot of epinephrine.
Maybe I should try and bail. No. Fuck that. There was no way in hell I was going to be the only guy in the three man group that cowed out of getting some sweet, sweet air time. Also, I already had my hand clamped full press on the brake lever so I couldn’t actually have stopped even if I had wanted to. But more the daredevil thing. I took another look at the jump and lost focus for half a second processing my angle, skidding over some sliding rocks in the process. I righted myself as I hit the dirt straightaway leading to the drop. I let off the brake and pedaled hard. I was going to do the jump and it was either going to be magnificent or I was going to eat it so, so bad. I reached the last of the stretch, hopped the root that held the dirt path, and leaned back as I took air. I swear I’ve never felt anticipation turn into excitement so fast when I realized that not only was I going to be completely fine, but that mountain biking was exhilarating.
That was a couple months ago. The time elapsed between me being told I was about to have the highlight of my trip and actually doing it was probably ten seconds max. And that’s a rough estimate because I was so in the moment, so in my state of “flow” that it could’ve been a half minute and I would still say it had only taken the blink of an eye to rocket down that hill.
Most of all, that mountain biking trip in Patapsco State Park reminded me of the sense of flow that comes with mountain biking. Hell, from being outdoors in general. It was a two hour trip, just me, my friend, and his dad. For that entire trip I didn’t once think about classes, work, whatever problems I had. It was me and the trail. I just was.
For the week or so after that trip, I still felt great. I felt like I had accomplished something. I was reminded that whenever I’m stressed I just need to take a short trip to a trail somewhere and gain perspective.
I’ll be honest, I don’t go mountain biking that often. But I always take my friends up on their offers whenever the opportunity arises. In general, I have a code about saying no to going out. I believe that when you open yourself up to opportunity, those are the times that give you the best stories.
I don’t care if you get invited hiking, mountain biking, surfing, rock-climbing, whatever, just say yes.
And if you’re not getting invited out, no problem. We’ve all been there. Just pick up your running shoes and hit the trail for a good couple hours. Get that crisp air. Take some time to gain perspective.
Even if you’re unsure. Especially if you’re unsure. Most of the time you’re going to be for something new.
And remember, enjoy every moment for that moment is your life. That’s my journey. I hope that I can extend it to whoever reads this.