Yesterday I took my nephew, Ned, out on a bike ride. I rode ladybird, our pony, whilst he peddled as fast as he could. It was great fun once we got going. Ladybird is always game for a race, and so is Ned, so in parts it got quite high speed!
It got me thinking about confidence. Biking is a game of confidence what ever level we do it at. So many of the lessons that we learn biking apply in life too.
Before I had Noah I got quite into mountain biking. I went on a few weekend courses at ‘Gone Mountain Biking’ in Pickering. Mike the instructor is an amazing rider and instructor, his real talent when he is teaching lies in giving other’s confidence. He got me going down steps, tackling bomb holes and going along single track much faster than I could ever have imagined. Had I been on my own I never would have tried all of the obstacles but his belief that I could do it made all the difference.
I look back now and think that mindfulness would have improved my riding so much. I remember at breakfast time, before we went out on the bikes for the day, being so nervous about what was to come. Now I think I would be able to enjoy each moment as it came rather than worrying to the same extent.
I remember following along the tracks in Dalby Forest convinced that everyone else in the group was much better than me. Although this may have been true it wasn’t really anything to worry about. It was simply another mental obstacle I was putting in the way of fully enjoying myself. Some more mental chatter going on to distract me from the focus I needed to ride well.
I remember stopping to look at the next obstacle we were going to do and being told how to ride it. Listening intently I would sit there and at times my legs would be shaking with nerves, shaking legs as you tackle a mountain biking obstacle certainly isn’t the best! If I had had a few breathing exercises that I now know to do I could have calmed myself and been much steadier and stronger as I rode.
I remember one day going out on my own and mindlessly applying my breaks as I was going over a big wet rock, I flew over the handle bars and landed up against a tree. Complete proof that loosing your nerve whilst you are going full pelt leads to disaster! Calm confidence is the way to success, on your bike and in life.
Watching Ned on his bike yesterday reminded me of all of this. He wobbled as he started and I could tell he really wanted to impress me and not let himself down. As we went up a hill he would normally ride up no problem he said he needed to get off and push. The difference was a lack of confidence. He had not ridden his bike much over the winter and he needed to get back in the saddle and remember that he could do it, that he is good at it. By the time we turned for home he was doing so much better, riding in straight lines, looking further ahead and enjoying himself rather than worrying.
In life practise makes everything better. The more often we ride our bike the better we get. The more often we meditate the easier we find it to focus, to control our bodies, to be alert and aware yet relaxed. The When skill is needed a good instructor is a great start but belief in yourself is essential to making things happen. What ever sport you are into mindfulness could make you better. Come on a Revitalise Day to learn how.