The Fear of Falling!

Like a scene from a swords and sandals flick, I charged to face the enemy today…the foe that I turned away from earlier but now I was determined to conquer. Well hardly, however I did have a big refusal this morning when I came across a huge dip in the forest and turned away from riding down into it and then up out of it on the steep sides.

I tried to justify it to myself that I was not in the mood and that I was feeling tired, so a route more ordinary would be more suited to my ride. However, no sooner had I left the area, did I start to ponder that big hole again and wonder why I didn’t ride in and out of it and contemplated returning to it?

I still had a lot of forest miles to ride but all along the way the thought of that hole kept nagging away at me…almost telling me to stop being such a wet wipe and go back to ride it. I tried to put it to the back of my mind but it would not budge. I eventually finished what I wanted to do…all the film was in the can and I was starting to steam beneath my heavy jacket too as the morning temperatures began to rise.

As I turned onto the tarmac to head home, I thought…”What the hell! I’m going to do it!” So I headed back to the other end of the forest a few miles away and retraced my track until I came face to face with the beast once more. However, this time the beast did not seem so ferocious, in fact it was almost timid in its stance.

I knew I was right to refuse it this morning because it just didn’t feel right and I wasn’t up for it. Whether my inhibitions were justified or not was irrelevant…I wasn’t there in that moment so I made the right choice. But now, I returned with fresh focus and desire…determination to ride this pussy cat…track down into the belly of the beastie then climb its spine to the outer rim.

I decided to go check out another trail which led further down into the valley floor, but it ended up being a short stretch which brought me out onto a logging road. So I doubled back and headed directly into the base of the bowl from the opposite side. Now sitting at flat bottom, twisted the throttle and pointed my front tyre towards to slope, let the clutch go…and up I went…standing proud and sailing up fast. It was over before I knew it and it proved to be a simple task especially with the knobbly tyres to assist my ascent.

When I reached the top…of course I had to turn around and ride back down into it too. Squeezing the front brake, moving my body rearwards and applying pressure on the rear brake too to let the knobblies dig into the dirt and inches of fallen leaves. In heartbeat I was at the bottom again, then a quick turn around, then I was up the slope again. The beast had been tamed and I began to wonder what all the fuss was about and why I feared it earlier on.

I doubt it had anything to do with the size of the hole actually. I think it had more to do with the bike I was riding, how heavy and bulky it is…being a big adventure bike…and the fear of losing my balance going uphill and dropping the thing too.

I’m a great believer in facing your fears or the things that make you nervous, but I’m also a big believer in following your gut and weighing up the options and working out all of the angles before making a go-no go decision. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do and at other times it’s the perfect option.

Today I was lucky enough to be able to return and face the demon in the forest and also those within me too. It was an exorcism or sorts and a method of cleansing the fears that had bugged me for the remainder of the trip. However, that fear of falling can also be an irrational fear too. Sometimes, all that is required is a bit of breathing space to think about it a bit more, get it clear in your mind what you want to do, your ability and the bike’s capability and to consider the options. With time, the irrationality is replaced with clear blue thinking and it gives you an opportunity to do the thing you may never have done…but it also may confirm that you really shouldn’t do it at all.

That’s the beauty of giving yourself time to consider whatever it is you want to do. If your gut feeling is telling you not to do something, then you have to try to work out what that is and whether you can overcome it or not. These are daily riding decisions but you’ll probably find you’ll be making a lot more when out riding on the dirt trails.


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