Thursday, 16 April 2009

Back in the Saddle

Over the years, I've often wanted to be better at things than I am. Better than I probably am capable of being. It has frustrated and depressed me in equal measures. It is not so much that I won’t put the effort in if it is something I truly want, it is more that I struggle to see how I will ever get to the place I want to be.

What got me thinking about this was a book I recently read, named ‘Surf Nation’ by Alex Wade. The story of his travels round the British Isles surfing different breaks and meeting locals struck a chord with me. It also brought home how I always feel I am never quite at the level I want to be. The level he was at, to make his trip possible. I don’t want to be a pro or even one of the best at the break, I just want to be solid and hold my own. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself? This coupled with my current lack of mobility and being unable to do anything about it, may be, making me underestimate myself.

But the same goes for my riding too. When things click together, I feel like I am riding well, the lines I’m taking fast and smooth and certain things on a bike come so easily to me. But do I ever get to that level where I want to be? That level where countless other people are and I always seem to be slightly behind? I don’t, no. What holds me back is a fear, a fear of failing and a presumption that what I'm trying won’t work. I fail before I even try.

Maybe the way the media pumps images at us; of individuals performing impossible superhuman feats on bikes or boards, means we defeat ourselves before we have even tried?

My first reaction after shattering my tibia and fibula, was to pack in anything too adventurous and adrenalin filled. Not because I didn’t want to hurt myself, break something else or because I thought the plates in my leg would affect my performance. More because losing 6 months of your life to 1 thing is pretty tough mentally. It’s basically a pain in the ass!

As my recovery has gone on and accelerated recently, my viewpoint has switched. Mainly, this has been due to nightly chats with Finn over how tough certain sports can be mentally, how you need to really love what you are doing to succeed at your level and how mentally you can grow from something like this. Why give up something you love, something that makes the world make sense and something that courses and flows through your entire being, body and soul? I owe this guy a lot for his advice. His dedication to the game of hockey is awe-inspiring.

Additionally, meeting up with the Boss brought back a lot of memories of summers past when we rode and surfed from dawn until dusk. The Boss was the one rider who would push me, on the trail and in the water. He’d take me out of my comfort zone and push the boundaries of what I thought I could achieve.

6 months out isn’t long. I’m incredibly lucky. I’ve got a good job, awesome girlfriend, great friends and a love for riding and surfing that cannot be taken away. I’ve learnt to be patient and more forgiving over the last 6 months and I’m a better more rounded person. Everything happens for a reason.

My friends are going to be driven crazy once I’m back on my bike. I want, no I need, people to push me, force me beyond where is comfortable. We have the talent, so let’s make the most of it? I apologise in advance to any of them who get annoyed with me constantly pushing them to ride Wales and the Alps! But to me….the Captain, Sampras and the Boss, you guys have the ability to create memories that will last forever. Amongst our group we could be legends, so I make no apology for that. I want to look back when I’m 75 and smile, remembering how Sampras blitzed a black run in Wales, how the Boss nailed a jump at Lordswood and how the Captain rode singletrack as sweet and smooth as it has ever been ridden.

Life is for living. I don’t have a death wish or the ability to be totally crazy. But when I finally get myself back out there, I’m going to make the most of it. Some people aren’t so lucky in life. I’m going to sort out my issues in the dirt and the waves.

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