Building confidence

5 09 2011

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve gotten softer as I get older.

There was a time I used to love riding the trails up on Burnaby Mountain. Descending on the narrow cross-country routes, brushing through the bushes, the bike rolling easily beneath me, I’d feel moments of harmony with the mountain, and with the bike. But a few bad crash landings spooked me.

Fortunately, I escaped injury, but a separated or dislocated shoulder always seemed one bad tumble away.

It’s all about confidence.

Hesitate for a moment before a drop, or a series of roots on a downhill slope, and inevitably you’d squeeze the front brake too hard and launch over the handlebar.

Once the confidence is gone, it’s hard to get back.

A ride up the mountain earlier this summer had a couple of dicey moments as we explored some new trails. But there were also moments of that old bliss.

Riding the road is all about piling up those kilometers, feeling the wind and the sun and the burn in the legs. It’s about litheness and speed and finding that rhythm that will propel you up a climb. It’s about being connected to your bike.

Riding the trail is more organic, adjusting your riding style to the terrain, finding that balance that will keep you upright while still moving forward. It’s about reading lines, planning and executing. It’s about putting the spring in your knees and arms to gather and absorb the bumps. It’s also about avoiding bears.

We've never actually ever seen a bear on Burnaby Mountain.

In two weeks we’re planning to revisit our Waterloo, the epic trail in Whistler called Comfortably Numb. Six or seven years ago we rode it on the hottest day of the summer and it beat us up something fierce, eight hours of arduous climbing and precarious descending. Many f-bombs were hurled that day.

Older and hopefully wiser, we’re only going to bite off half the trail this time. Hopefully it won’t bite us back.

But that means building confidence.

So today Dan and I headed for Burnaby Mountain again.

It's hard to get hurt while riding up.

After a slow start in which I crab-walked over a couple of drops, I got a little bolder, found my rhythm, feathering the brakes instead of mashing them in panic. And it was good. Great fun in fact. No bones broken or separated.

A glorious Labor Day on the mountain.

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