My husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary at a mountain resort and wanted to try mountain biking for the first time. Simple, right? You and your bike ride up the gondola at 1,200 feet a minute and then you coast down 2,000 vertical feet to the bottom of the mountain. I was so excited that I warned my husband, “Be ready to go as many times as I want!” (Yes, I know, not very “wedding anniversary” of me.) Unfortunately, at the top, we discovered the easier Green runs were closed, leaving only those intended for more experienced riders.
Regardless of our experience, we chalked a few things up to common sense, like wear a helmet. Apply the brakes equally, favoring the rear brake just a bit, so you don’t flip over the handle bars. …And stay on the high side of curves (especially the ones filled with cool afternoon rain and mud).
Then, there were the counterintuitive things we learned the hard way:
- Don’t Sit on the Seat: Judging by the fact that I couldn’t sit comfortably for three days after our trip and a little research I should have done before the trip, I would say the mountain bike seat is intended only for rest breaks. I recommend seeking advice from experts or a mentor before starting something new. When possible take the green or easiest path first. Build on that experience until you are ready for a more challenging route. But, don’t take too many rest breaks!
- Ignore What You Want to Avoid: Have you ever peddled through a mud puddle you were hoping to avoid? It’s called target fixation: when your bike goes where your eyes are focusing. In the same way, leaders must stare down the desired path. Redirecting your attention and the attention of the team toward the pessimistic is unhelpful and maybe destructive. Focus on the positive, the best alternative, and the desirable or get splashed with cold, wet mud!
At one point, I fell, and the bike landed on me– ouch! The second time I started to fall, I hopped off my bike and literally threw it up the hill about five feet in a rage of superhuman strength! As my husband waited for me to retrieve my bike and rejoin him, he lost his wedding ring. (Yes, I know, not very “wedding anniversary” of him.) Just, at that moment, a couple hiked into the clearing and exclaimed, “Hey, there’s a wedding ring!” And with that, my husband retrieved his ring and they disappeared into the forest just as quickly as they had emerged.
I took home a few bruises, my husband took home his wedding ring, and when he asked, “Did you want to go again?” I took the opportunity to enjoy the shimmering golden aspens and the warm sun– slope side!
“If you do something right the first time, then it’s not hard enough” ~Danny MacAskill, Scottish trials cyclist
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.