Why biking has made me better at life

Once stuck in the mountain bike bubble, it is hard to leave. I am pretty sure my childhood friends from school think I have – to some degree – lost the plot. I work with bikes, talk about bikes, plan my holidays around bikes, have a boyfriend who rides bikes and even do the house layout after how and where to store the two-wheeled things. And sometimes, in a moment of clarity, I ask myself “what is it about bikes that lures me in to this extent?”. Of course there is the adrenaline, the excitement and the simple fact that exercising makes me happy, but when it comes to biking there is more to it than just spinning pedals and shredding singletrack. It’s the constant challenge of becoming stronger, improving and learning new skills in life. It is about knowing how and when to trust myself, how to grow as a person and when to switch off and just enjoy the moment. Things I learn on the bike, I take with me to all other aspects of life and I think that is why, as crazy as the bike bubble can be, it has taught me some of the most valuable lessons in my life. Let me explain what I mean.

 

Facing fears and learning to trust myself

Biking has taught me that when you get knocked off, you assess the damage and learn how to get back up again. Fear can be overcome and once you actually face up to it, you’ll more than often come out stronger on the other side. Learning the importance of facing fears, how to overcome hurdles and putting trust in my own abilities on the bike has made me realise the importance of doing the same in every aspect of daily life.

 

As scary and intimidating as a situation might seem, I know that fear can be conquered with the help of some self-confidence and self-trust. Just because someone is speaking the loudest, acting up the most or giving me the “I know better than you”-talk doesn’t mean that they are right. Just like I’ve learnt to evaluate a scary line according to my own abilities, I’ve learned to evaluate certain more intimidating situations in life the same way. I wouldn’t send a 10-meter gap jump, so of course I wouldn’t take on a similar situation in life thinking I’m not in over my depth. But I would take on a 5-meter jump even if some dude kept telling me I couldn’t do it. Because even though it’s scary, I know that I can do it as long as I trust myself and put in an extra pedal stroke or two.

 


Learning to step outside the comfort zone

Just like biking has made me good at trusting my own abilities, it has also made me realise that there is always room for improvement. There are always ways to get better and it is not actually as hard as it seems. I often hear about people that are scared of getting outside of their comfort zone and it is understandable if you’ve never challenged yourself that the tiniest step out into the unknown can feel completely unachievable. However, as bikers we learn early on that the reward is often sweeter than the risk. A well-calculated risk anyway. We know how, and to what extent, we can push our own minds and bodies on the bike so when we find ourselves in a boundary-pushing-situation off the bike we simply get on with it, knowing that most challenges can be overcome. It makes us grow not only as riders, but as people.

 

For example, I might know that a certain line or race is slightly too hard but if I don’t challenge myself to try and do it, I will regret it later. Again, I have learnt that the same applies to everyday life. When I was younger, before I found bikes, I often felt like I had something to say but didn’t really dare to speak up. I knew that I didn’t want a normal 9-5 life, but didn’t dare – or even know how to- go a different way. Riding bikes have taught me that I need to at least try and that things aren’t often as scary as they seem. Sometimes you’ve just got to let go of the breaks and send it – whether it is down a super scary line or quitting a job, moving country and changing the direction of your life. Because even if you crash, you’ll come out stronger on the other side… and hopefully a tad bit wiser.

 

Appreciating the moment

Last but not least, in a world that spins faster than ever, biking has taught me how to be still. Life might not be as glorified as people’s Instagram posts or as exciting as their latest vlog, but it is pretty damn good if you just take a step back from all the madness and allow yourself to enjoy it. Being connected 24/7 is amazing in many ways as it opens up a whole world of opportunities, but it also makes it hard to stop spinning. Somewhere amongst all the noise of beeping phones, endless social media feeds, work emails on a Sunday and chores like dishes, cleaning and cooking, we all have to learn how to switch off and stand still for a moment. How can we otherwise turn back on?

 

This is where biking comes in and teaches us the most valuable lesson of them all - to stop stressing and let yourself be absorbed by the moment. When I am out riding my bike I automatically switch off. I don’t have to do anything in order to do so; I just have to keep pushing the pedals, keep riding the trail. It gives me a free haven, a few hours of total relaxation – mindfulness if you’d like – and time to stop worrying about annoying work emails, dirty dishes and mad men being presidents. A time for me, my bike and my friends to hangout and have fun.

 

Practice biking

Heading out on the trails for a couple of hours gives you more than just momentary happiness, it gives you skills for life. Biking has taught me to trust my abilities and push myself beyond what I think is possible. It has showed me that that the world can (and will) keep on spinning without me for a couple of hours and that it is okay to switch off. So the next time an old classmate or colleague of mine tells me that I’ve lost the plot due to all the biking, I might just tell them that it’s actually the other way around – it is what keeps me sane. Some people practice mindfulness, I practice bike riding.