Thursday, January 7, 2016

Skills Clinic

A few days ago when I actually began the brain dump that I posted yesterday, I intended to tie in my experience at a Team Laser Cats-hosted women’s beginner mountain bike ride on Sunday. However, as I wrote through my descent into feeling hopeless/helpless in my relationship with food and thus life in general, I realized the post was already too long and either needed to stand alone or be thrown out altogether. While I wasn’t sure if a long retelling of things that I’ve discussed in the blog before and conclusions that I’d already come to would be interesting or useful for anyone else, it helped me to write it all out into one big three-year story that I figured that there was at least no harm in publishing.

Anyway, Sunday my team hosted a mountain bike mini-clinic and beginner ride in Philadelphia. Taylor and Taryn were the ride leaders, but I made the trip to spend some time with the team and lend moral support. Before the ride I thought about the instruction I’d received at clinics before and the best way to teach mountain biking to complete beginners. My conclusion: it’s hard to do. While I’ve benefited from shared tips and tricks along the way, most of my learning was by my own trial and error.

It was a fun day in the woods, and it was so great to see so many women mountain bike for the first time and come away wanting more. It reminded me of my first summer of mountain biking and I remembered how scary it was at first. I was also super proud of the newbies, as the “easier” trails in Wissahickon Park were still so much harder than the Indiana trails where I learned to ride, and they still did great. Still, as I observed their fear going over rocks and steeper downhills, I sort of wished that could just download my muscle memory into their brains and make it immediately more easy and fun for them.

Photo Credit: Team Laser Cats

This reminded me of my metaphor about how telling people to change their attitude is sort of like telling people how to mountain bike. It’s something which can only be relayed so much by normal forms of human communication, but I guess the telling is a good start if it’s done in helpful, considerate manner. I was very aware during ride to really try to communicate technique without ever sounding bossy or condescending, because I know how hard the things that are easy for me now once were. I hope that I was successful in my attempts.

A lot of my depression and anxiety lately has been due to feeling like I can’t get certain aspects of my life on track, especially eating. For months now, perhaps even since I moved to State College, I’ve been struggling to get back the “magic” that helped me make so many positive life changes before. However, it felt like every time I tried to get on the right path, I encountered another obstacle that I wasn’t equipped to handle. These days I can barely handle any sort challenge that might put my eating, sleeping, or training in jeopardy, and I’m so tired and frustrated at my lack of strength and/or my inability to cultivate the strength and resilience that I had three years ago.

This is where the easy to say but harder to execute change in attitude comes in. I saw some quote the other day that said something like, “Right now someone is praying for you what you take for granted.” Its sucks when you don’t have something you desperately want, but it’s a good reminder of what you have. Many of the challenges that I’m facing now are the result of getting the things that at one point in my life I desperately wanted. The stress of having to plan and cook meals for two people when I don’t feel like dealing with food at all is because I wanted to be with a guy who liked my cooking. When I get stressed out in the afternoons at work and want sugar to get me through, it’s because I have a stable job that pays pretty well, which I was without for quite a while in my early adulthood.

After some reflection it became clear that I had worked really hard to get to the current circumstances in which I sat, and I needed to learn to be successful in them instead of trying to change them more in an attempt make things easier on myself. If my time in Rothrock has taught me anything, it is that there comes a time when you just have to ride the trail in front of you until you start to love it (and that suspension helps). I needed to stop worrying so much about the perceived reasons that I could not get the things I wanted and just figure out how to get them.

I couldn’t simply be told to change my attitude any more than the girls on the ride could be told how shifting their weight would makes things easier. We both had to ride over some scary stuff and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to understand what those instructions really meant. Now I’m starting to let my butt leave the saddle a bit and play with my balance. With those skills finally coming around, perhaps I can finally start riding over the rocks in my path instead of letting them knock me down.

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