The Old Guy

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(photo credit:Murphy Lee Moschetta)


Over the last few years I have come to realize I’m no longer just another BMX guy. I mean, I still ride BMX all the time but I’m not one of the guys. I’m the old BMX guy. Seems there are more and more of us these days. Some got off the bike for a number of years and decided to get back on. Some, like me, have been riding the whole time. It’s really an interesting place to be and I can’t help feel like something is familiar about it.

Back in the 80’s, we were lucky to be a part of the first wave of freestyle. You’ll often hear old guys talk about how great things were “back in the day”. Honestly, I think it has more to do with the age we were at. As teens, people get infatuated with things and start to define themselves by the groups to which they belong. We were the Freestylers. It was exciting to find ourselves at the beginning of a new sport. For some of us, we got to help define what the sport was. We made up the tricks. Back then you could come up with a handful of new moves every month. Today, we get a handful of new moves a year by everyone. I’m not talking about another whip or spin added. I mean a completely new position or move. We were The First.

Today as one of the old guys who kept riding, I realize once again we are the first. The first generation of riders not to stop when life, relationships, work, kids or whatever else got in the way. We are continuing to push the limits. We have no idea how long people can still do this. Eventually our bodies will give out and we’ll have to stop, but for most of us, the limit isn’t in sight even if our own mortality is.

When we all started riding as little kids, we got into it because it was fun. Every jump or trick was important and we felt it. We couldn’t do everything but we enjoyed pushing ourselves. Eventually, riding became important to many of us with contest, shows, sponsors or video parts. It became a job, an obsession. It was still fun but there were other motivations behind why we did it. Riding took on a whole new purpose. Eventually, most of us left the “pro” life behind and what I’ve noticed is that riding has come back full circle as to why we do it; simply for the fun. Our riding doesn’t have to have purpose anymore. We do it because we enjoy doing it.

It’s uncomfortable as hell to ride as an old guy. All the moves you did effortlessly are difficult or damn impossible anymore. We have to pick and choose carefully. Putting limits on ourselves goes against everything we grew up doing. I half jokingly tell people I can’t do tricks for fun anymore. Yeah, I’m sure I can still do a one handed, no footed 360 but I don’t do it. If you offer me $500 to see it, I’ll bust one out but it’s not going to be just for fun anymore. I’ve got too much rust and too much to lose.

One salvation about being the old guy is that there is a certain liberty in not having to constantly progress and be better. Just getting out riding is enough. Some sessions are spent doing things I learned 30 years ago or like tonight, spending 60 minutes on a move I’ve never done before. Cruising around the skatepark enjoying the carve, relearning an old trick or trying something new is all it has to be. No expectations, no pressure. It’s not that I’m not trying anymore. Hell, I’m trying about as hard as I ever did. It’s about enjoying the moment, perfecting the art. Not doing it all, just doing what you feel. With decades of experience to rely upon, our skill set is well formed and we can catch a groove in ways we couldn’t as up and comers. Riding is more refined these days. Guys like Simon Tabron or John Yull have purposefully stopped doing many tricks just to focus on a personal journey. While it seems limiting, they are finding new boundaries inside their box and becoming better at what they do than they ever were. BMX has become whatever we want it to be.

Some of us old guys still compete and push ourselves to be top riders. Others stay hidden in the woods or their back yards and private spots. Chasing the dream of being a pro rider is behind us. Chasing the dream of being the best rider we can be is still very much alive. The same dream we had when we blasted off the curb for the first time. All the accolades, contests, shows and achievements don’t mean anything while we are riding. We are in the moment and it’s the same moment as when we were 14 years old.

So I offer a tip of the hat to all the other old guys out there still riding their BMX bikes. Keep leading the way. To all the young riders out there I offer one bit of advice. Next time you see the old guy in the flannel riding, don’t snake him. Let him take his run first. He’s got to make the most out of the runs he has left.

By brettdownsconspiracy

Going Downhill


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This is a photo a talented young photographer named Murphy Moschetta posted last week.  When I look at it I see so many things.  It was taken outside a skatepark in Pittsburgh, a few miles from where my college room mate grew up and I spent time in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  My soon to be 18 year old son and I were both doing backflips and jumping our BMX bikes inside.  The shirt has the logo of the company I’m working for as a sales rep.  Mostly, I just see the weathering of age.  The wrinkles around my perpetually squinting eyes from years of riding in the sun.  The wrinkles on my neck from age and more sun damage.  I see the receding hairline where a once glorious mane of blond locks once lived.  I see the scar on my chin from the last time I ever did a 360 over a spine ramp.  The drooping right shoulder from too many separations and collar bone breaks.  Almost everything this photo is to me stems from BMX.

Freestyle BMX is often referred to as a sport, hobby, profession or even an art.  To me it’s been more of lifestyle.  The riding itself is a craft I have worked on for decades but the way it has molded my life goes well beyond the tricks and moves. Freestyle is more than a way to ride a bike, it’s a way to live if you so choose.  See the world differently, make your own rules.  Push yourself beyond what you think you can.  It’s Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken.  It’s by far not the easiest but it has it’s rewards.  Like the flaws I see in that photo show, it takes it’s toll but I wouldn’t change a thing.  It’s been worth it.


By brettdownsconspiracy


December 27, 2016.

I found myself on a train platform in Boston.  I stood precariously close to the edge looking down at the tracks below.  I saw the ominous “third rail” people always warn about.  I started gauging the distance from the edge and considering the height of the platform.  Could I jump over it?  Maybe as a teen a flat footed leap would have been possible but now I’d need a good run up.  I turned around and saw behind me that there was plenty of room to build speed.  The voice in my head said “I think you’ve got this…”

It’s always been about calculations.

Ever since I can remember I have been interested in stunts, trajectories and seeing how I could control my energy.  In elementary school I was already immersed in launching myself on my bicycle.  I could hit a ramp and control if I used my speed to go up high or stay low and go a long distance.  Eventually, I would be able to combine both techniques and accomplish my goal.  I’d look at a car about five feet tall, seven feet wide and place a 30 inch tall ramp at just the right distance in order to jump over it.  It was all speed and timing.

Off the bike, I was fascinated with flinging my body through the air as well.  Down the street from my house was a playground with a small flat roof pavilion over a picnic bench or two.  This pavilion was graded into a hill so all four corners were different heights.  As a monkey boy, of course I learned to climb up the poles and get onto the roof.  The lowest corner was about seven feet from the uphill side of the ground.  The next corners were about eight, ten and eleven feet respectively.  I’d climb up the roof and methodically jump off.  I’d land different ways and learn to use my momentum in a lateral direction to tuck and roll so the landing wouldn’t hurt.    I’d throw myself off the low corner until I felt confident and then I would move to the next corner, a foot higher, and repeat the process until I had mastered that height.  Then off to the next.  My plan was to learn to jump off things that were incrementally higher so as one day reach the goal of jumping off the peak of my house and not get hurt.

About ten years ago a friend was having a pool party and I ran home and got my ladder.  His house was also built onto a hill.  The front gutter was about nine feet high and the back gutter was over the second story.  I was a perfect jump to the pool as long as you made it over the concrete patio.  A bunch of us were all doing this big jump from the roof when I got an idea.  I put a hula hoop in the middle of the pool and went back onto the roof.  I told my friends we should try to jump off the roof and go through the hoop.  They all thought I was nuts.  One even told me I’d knock my teeth out if I hit the hoop.  I assured them it was easy and with a quick glance below, I leaped.  Once I left the roof, all I could do was straighten my body and keep my arms to the side.  I sliced through the center of the hoop and when my head popped above the water’s surface, my friends were cheering.

For someone who has never studied physics, I have a keen sense of force, momentum and trajectories.  I picked them up from literal hard knocks.  I see distances and heights and think of the sudden, focused burst of power needed to get from A to B.  I spent most of my life in tune with my body and gravity enough to win the gamble more times than I’ve lost it.

I see the world as an inadvertent obstacle course.  I always have.  My whole life family and friends have called me a Daredevil or crazy.  I’ve been accused of not knowing better or not giving a damn.  I see things differently than they do, almost as if I speak a different language.  I’ve met a lot of BMX riders who can decipher this language of here to there but I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to them about it.  We can see things the same way.

That day on the platform I remembered jumping off furniture as a small child.  Picking a spot on the floor, or an empty laundry basket at a target and hitting my mark.  I can’t remember a time where I didn’t see things like that.  I realized most people would consider it a curse to see everything in the physical world as a challenge.  I turned it into a goal.  It’s all I know.

Now approaching 50, I have the experience but not the physical ability to do a lot of the things I want to do, even if I used to do them easily.  It’s a tough transition to change the way I think, knowing that now shit hurts and I have to be responsible and not be laid up for weeks.  Call it maturity or getting old, the governor is on.  I still see these challenges but don’t act on them too often but the calculations are still going on.  One day I may be an old man but I know I’ll still be seeing curbs, walls, hills and jumps.  I’ll be figuring them out but not being able to do them.  It’s almost like being paralyzed.  It’s a scary thought.  At least I know what it is to fly and I’ll always have that.

By brettdownsconspiracy


The other day I was riding my bike and saw a name on a contractor’s truck.  The last name reminded me of a person I worked with at my first job. This story came back to me.

When I was in high school I worked in a nice restaurant.  Well, nice for York, PA anyway.  The employees were high schoolers, college students and full on grown ups.  It was an interesting mix and I got to see real lives of people beyond my peer group.  We all got along for the most part and were a good crew.  Occasionally, someone would have a party and we’d get together after work at some apartment or house.

On New Year’s Eve going into 1985 I remember we got out of work around 1 AM and went to Flossie’s house.  She was a cool woman, probably around 40 years old.  She had a nice little house with a raging party inside.  She had made beds everywhere upstairs so people could sleep over after getting properly liquored up in celebration of the new year.

Beth was a 17 year old table busser and she had already been drinking by the time she got there.  Walking into the party, she was handed champagne and quickly gulped down a couple of glasses and then switched to beer.  The music was blasting and everyone was dancing and snacking.  I saw Beth with a bottle of Jack Daniels and she was swigging it between dance moves.  She was getting pretty sloppy drunk.

After an hour or so she realized she had enough.  I helped her upstairs and led her to the bathroom.  After a few dry heaves, nothing came up.  She went to lay down in one of the bed rooms as she really couldn’t walk anymore.  I tucked her in and went back down to the party.

A short while later, one of the waiters from the restaurant, a slimy 50 something year old man with bad hair, crazy teeth and perpetually smelling of Winstons went upstairs.  Rob saw Beth laying in the bed and couldn’t pass up the chance.  He sat on the edge of the bed and caressed Beth’s face.  He started touching her body while she was passed out.  Beth awoke with this pudgy, middle aged man laying on top of her.

She could barely focus and was so drunk she could hardly move.  Rob was kissing her face and saying to her, “What’s the oldest man you’ve ever been with?  You need a man with experience.”  She didn’t respond.  She just stayed pinned under him, so drunk she couldn’t quite understand what was happening to her.  She was completely helpless.

I happened to go to the upstairs bathroom and caught a glimpse of what was going on in the bedroom.  Bursting in, I grabbed Beth’s hand and said, “You have to come downstairs and dance to this song!” Rob rolled off her and I hustled Beth down the stairs carefully.  She was barely walking.  I got her to the living room and I danced as she tried to stagger to the rhythm of the music.  Halfway through the song she mumbled “Thanks”.

Nothing was said of the incident after that.  The closest thing was a week later at work, Rob got a quiet moment with Beth and called her a “Party Pooper”.

Looking back, as adults, we see this differently than I did as a 17 year old.  Was this an attempted rape?  Was it sexual assault?  Was it misogyny?  Was it a power imbalance?  It could be all those things.  While trying to define this incident, I must let you know I left out a key part of this story.

Beth doesn’t exist.  Neither does pudgy gross Rob.  This story happened but it was to me.  The adult was a nasty woman named Mary with too much blue eye shadow.  It was a woman laying on top of a passed out 17 year old young man.

Now, as you were just trying to define what this incident was in your head, take a minute and think about the fact that the victim was a male, not a female.  Does that make a difference in your gut reaction?

As a man, I’m acutely aware of women at my kids’ school seeing me as a potential predator.  This comes from both the parents and the staff.  I see it at stores and restaurants.  Their stares and questions infuriate me.  I have to swallow the fire in me and just let them be.  Just because I have a dick doesn’t mean I want to stick it in you or your child.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to unload on them about how I was almost raped by a woman when I was a teen.  It was a fucked up situation and I’m so glad my best friend happened to see me and drag me out of the room.

Statistically, our children are safer now than when we were kids.  Unfortunately, the media loves a good horror story and scaring the public gets ratings.  I’m not saying there aren’t bad people out there and one child getting harmed is too many.  Let’s just take a moment to reconsider how we view people, male and female.  How do we view ourselves based upon how we view them?






By brettdownsconspiracy

Lucky Penny


When I was five I lived two blocks away from this bank conveniently located at a 7-11 store.  My dad would give me my allowance on Saturdays, a dime and a nickel.  The goal every week was to find a penny so I could get the small 16 cent Slurpee, cherry of course.

I’d sit and look at this concrete slant and think about it.  Even though I had just learned to ride my bike, I knew this was something special. The angle beckoned to me.  On the top side was a driveway with the wall creating a curb so cars wouldn’t drive over.  I looked at this bank from all angles and somehow knew that I wanted to ride my bike on it.  I had no idea how to get over the five inch high curb at the top and knew the kink at the bottom would surely cause pain if I rode straight down it.  Approaching it straight on to ride up it like a jump was out because there was no way I could pop a wheelie that high.  A couple of times I approached it at an angle, lifting my front wheel an inch or so only to feel the tire bonk and bounce back to the parking lot.  I just couldn’t figure it out.

After high school, I moved to Philadelphia and wasn’t too far from where I had learned to ride as a little kid.  As soon as I learned my way around, I went back to the old neighborhood and rode down the little alleyway, hit the sidewalk jumps and went back to 7-11.

As usual, cars were parked in the lot but there was just enough room.  I cranked hard a couple of times and charged the wall.  I lifted my front wheel and met the slope perfectly, carving an arc I had dreamt of for 13 years. I swooped up watching my front tire come within a couple of inches from the top.   Rolling off the wall, I quickly looped back around and I put in an extra crank and rode right out to the elusive driveway at the top.  A whole body smile of satisfaction came over me.  I looked down at where I had just been and knew that I had somehow fulfilled a destiny that I had been leading to all my life.

With a quick hop over the curb, I dove back into the bank.  This time I knew how to lift my front wheel and bend my knees to make the transition from the concrete to the blacktop smoothly.  With a whoosh, I sped into the parking lot and rolled across.  I stopped and turned to look back at what I had just done.  I felt warm inside, complete.

As I was enjoying this moment, one of the store employees came out wagging a finger at me.  “You can’t ride your bicycle on there!” he shouted.  I just looked at him.  “Yes I can. I finally can”.







By brettdownsconspiracy

Bike of the Year?

(Thoughts while riding yesterday)

Want to know exactly what is wrong in the bike industry?  This bike just won the bike of the year award from Velo News.




Please pay attention to what is ironically, the bottom line :

“Prices range from $4,260 for the 15-pound Ultegra model to $12,790 for the sub-13-pound Dura-Ace equipped Black Inc. ride.”

I understand that the best of the best equipment is always exciting but seriously, how many are they going to sell at $4200 much less at over $12K?  Is this bike really going to impact cycling in general in anyway?  In my opinion, the bike of the year is probably selling 1000 units a month via Wal-Mart.

A couple of years ago I wrote an entry about what the bicycle industry was getting wrong.

Not to beat a dead horse but the best way for the bike industry to grow is through getting more people on bikes, not making bikes most people can’t afford and have no need for.  Bike companies and shops make money selling “bread and butter” bikes- those priced under $600-$1000.  Those are for the new rider or casual rider.  These bikes are the way people can be introduced to cycling as an activity, transportation, exercise or sport.  If those bikes are dialed, the rider will enjoy his experience and continue riding.  Another bike rider created is the future of the industry.

It’s time to stop being short sighted and invest in the future.  This means taking care of the entry level rider, making the experience better and working toward cycling infrastructure.   By making bikes accessible we can profit both monetarily and as an industry.

It’s a hell of a lot easier to sell ten $100 bikes than one $1000 bike.  It makes more sense to serve 9 more customers too.


By brettdownsconspiracy

The Creek Jump.


The woods I grew up near were probably only about three or four acres.  The creek flowing down the center was the main artery splitting the road side from the apartment side.  There was a wide trail, almost enough for a Jeep to drive through that was my main thoroughfare as a kid.  There were some off shoots leading to hills or the creek that were very choppy but the main trail was smooth enough for my Huffy Thunder Road bicycle.  I spent a lot of time in these woods, riding and hiking.  In the winter when the creek would freeze over, we’d hike the ice all the way to town.  Of course we fell through and the bread bags my mom made me wear between my socks and boots never quite did the trick to keep my feet dry but I didn’t care.

In the summer the woods were my adventure zone.  There was a big hill with a rope swing, a creek full of minnows, frogs and the occasional snake.  Hell, a couple of times I even found tattered issues of Playboy Magazine. I looked at them with the confused eyes of a child, not really understanding what I was seeing but just excited because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be seeing it.  Barbie Benton was my first crush but I digress…

I had seen Evel Knievel’s half assed attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon and even though it was a failure, I was inspired.  I had a bike and the creek was calling to me.  I found a bend in the creek, almost ninety degrees to the right that looked like the most promising spot.  The outside of the bend had eroded from whenever the water was high and created a bank about four feet tall, which was just a couple inches below my height at the time.  The inside of the bend was at water level and sandy without too many rocks.  Eyeballing this spot for a while, I slowly started creating a runway by moving branches, rocks and pulling weeds.  I’d work and try to stomp down a path with my size four Chuck Taylors but it never really came together.  The brush and undergrowth were just too heavy.  Still, I remembered the spot and thought about it as the Summer turned into Autumn and then Winter.

The next Spring, I was riding down in the woods and decided to check out the jump.  I could see little traces of the previous work I had put in but old man Winter had been on my side.  Since it was still early in the Spring, the undergrowth hadn’t started in earnest and I knew that I had to get it done.

With an expert eye, I stood on the high side and looked at the creek.  The water was running at a good pace yet it was clear enough to see the rocks at the bottom.  The bank side had about two and a half feet of water that turned into only an inch or so before the other side.  I scoped out my landing spot, looking for hard packed sand and no obstructions.  My path was as good as it was going to get and like Evel, I took a few run ups to check my speed.  It was probably about a twelve foot jump to land safely.  From launching myself down flights of four or five stairs I knew I could get the distance if I could get the speed.  I turned around and went back to the starting point.

Mustering up all the courage a nine year old can find, I mashed down onto my pedals and began my approach.  Handlebars rattling as the front wheel seemed to find every root and rut on the way, I pedaled with determination.  I was going too fast and knew there was no holding back and in an instant I was gloriously flying off the miniature cliff and over the cold rushing water.

The glory of my launch was short lived.  I was heading down.  I wasn’t going to make it.  The splash of my bike was explosive but nothing compared to what happened next.  Somehow, I had managed to land with my sprocket over a head sized rock about half a foot below the water.    The bike stopped dead. Now anyone with an understanding of momentum knows that just because the bicycle stopped, doesn’t mean I would.  Crouching my legs like I would for any landing, when the bike stopped it had the effect of bouncing me as if I had landed on a trampoline.  My death grip on the handlebars didn’t budge but my feet soon found themselves flying over my head.  By the time I had spun three quarters of the way through a front flip my hands gave out and I drifted away from the bike, landing flat on my back into eight inches of ice cold water.

I immediately sprung up, shocked at what had just happened.  I was wet and cold so I tuned and grabbed my bike, dragging it to the intended landing spot.  While finally on the other side, I did what any good kid would do, inspect the bike for damages.  The Thunder Road didn’t come with a traditional chain guard but a metal ring attached to the sprocket that was slightly bigger than the area covered by the chain.  This ring had folded over until it was touching the chain.  There would be no more pedaling until I could get if fixed.  I picked up the bike and started home.

On this long walk of cold, wet defeat, I thought about what went wrong.  It didn’t even occur to me that I was lucky not to be hurt (one of the blessings of being a child).  When I got to the main path, I sat on the bike and pushed off the ground with my feet to roll the best I could.  I got back home and quickly stashed my bike, went to my room hiding my wet clothes in the bottom of the hamper and put my sneakers upside down on the radiator, hoping Mom wouldn’t make me go back outside in my wet shoes.  The fear of her finding out what I did was way worse than any hesitation I felt toward the jump.

That creek jump was the first challenge I ever really had think about and wasn’t sure if I was going to make.  Looking back, I’m amazed at how calculated I was in all aspects.  I thought it through but still wasn’t positive I’d make it.  I did, however, want it.  I gave it my best shot and came up short.  I never did go back and jump that creek but it had my respect.  About thirty years later I’d be riding with some friends and we joked about how we were just “hucking and hoping”.  Yeah, that’s what I do.


By brettdownsconspiracy

Jack’s bike check

One of my best friends told me that I’m doing my kids a disservice by giving them great bikes and making sure they always work properly.  They will never know the exquisite pain of trying to make a hoopty perform at a high level.  Well, I like nice bikes and since I can offer my kids something great to ride, why not?  I make sure to let them know the value of their rides and that they need to take care of them.

I’m especially proud of Jack’s bike.  It’s one of my old flatland frames so it fits him perfectly.  At age 10, a normal sized bike is just too much for him to handle.  He just left for the day’s adventures and I snapped a few pictures before he headed out.  He loves this bike more than anything so I told him we Should do a bike check.


Frame:  2006 Haro M7, custom powder coat

Fork:  Odyssey flatland, custom powder coat


Seat: Haro


Pedals:  Colony

Cranks: SE

Sprocket: Odyssey MDS

Chain: KMC

Seatpost: SE

Brakes: Tektro with Odyssey straddle hanger

Seatpost clamp: Mirraco

Pegs: Black Ops plastic


Wheels: Haro Hypno, Double wall rear, Single wall front.

Tires: Haro La Mesa


Grips: Cult Vans (just put them on)

Bars: SE Power Wing

Lever: Odyssey Monolever Trigger

Stem:  S&M Lil’ Redneck

Gyro: Generic with Odyssey cables

What do you think?  Not a bad start for a kid.  I built it up for him before he went to Woodward this past summer.  I wanted to make sure he had a bike that would give him the most enjoyment from his week.  His thank you to me was learning 360’s.  Looks like we both won.

By brettdownsconspiracy

Dating or Ramps?

I showed up with good intentions and a basic idea of what I wanted.

Thinking that it would be a fun challenge for myself, I got my stuff together and left the comfort of home to throw caution to the wind.

I met a bunch of new people.  Some were immediately likable and some were odd.  I didn’t care because I had a bigger plan in mind.

I surveyed the area, got prepared and set up barriers.

Then it was time.  I gave it one last good look and steadied myself.  I watched the others jump in.  They were eager and full of youthful confidence.  Being older and more experienced, I decided I better err to the side of caution and protect myself.  I protected my most vulnerable parts.  After all, I’d been hurt and not fully healed.

I studied and focused what I was about to attempt.  Strange that I had butterflies in my stomach when it was something I had done a million times.  I convinced myself that I knew what I was doing and it would be ok.  My reserve steeled, I knew I would have to just commit and throw myself and not worry about the what ifs.  Just trust in myself.

There was one little obstacle first that I hardly noticed.  My experience got me over that and then it was time for the big leap.  I hardly remember the launch or the actual move of my first attempt but I do remember the harsh thud at the end.  Damn Brett, tried too hard.


A little less next time.

Second try, not too different than the first but the confidence in myself was building after the initial go.  Halfway through I knew I was falling short, I sucked it up and absorbed the impact.  I was ok.  Just had a better understanding of what I needed to do.

I got back in the queue and felt my self assurance growing.  This time everything went perfectly.  I was conscious of each moment and spotted where I wanted to be and made myself go there.  I was smiling as I realized I could still do this.  The floating sensation was familiar.  Confidence and satisfaction radiated from my smile.  It was going to be a good day.

But that one success was over and I had to try it again. I mingled with the others for a while and felt the nerves starting to build.  I knew I had done it perfectly but my reluctance still had me shaking.  Each try was the potential for disaster but I wanted it.  I dove in a fourth time.

Everything felt fine with the set up and approach.  Once I let it fly, I was off balance and knew this wasn’t going the way I wanted.  I had been in this situation before and knew what I had to do.  I prepared myself hoping the failure would be a minor one.  It was.

But after I touched back down to earth, something gave.  Things went screwy and sideways and I felt forces beyond my control slam me.  Hard.  Suddenly I was a jumbled heap. Pain was all over my body in big and little ways.  I picked myself up and stepped aside to one of the boundaries I had set to assess the damages.

The worst pain was an old, familiar one I had felt before.  I was hoping I hadn’t made it worse.  There was also a new pain in my gut.  My chest ached with a throbbing reminder that I was still alive and this was going to hurt for a while.

Funny thing was, this time I was laughing to myself.  The pain was real and intense yet I was laughing because I had protected myself first and sure enough, it saved me from much worse injury.  Maybe I wasn’t able to do it like I used to but at least this time I was prepared and when it all blew up I knew I’d be ok.

Now, two weeks later, I wake up with the soreness still with me.  I notice it all day long.  It’s slowly fading and I’m getting back to life as it was before without the constant reminder of my unsuccessful leap.  Many people would be hurt like this and give up trying.  I know that some day I’ll do it again.  What can I say, it’s worth it to me.  I don’t regret getting hurt because it feels so good when it all comes together perfectly.

Or maybe I just don’t know better…

By brettdownsconspiracy

Stopping to go forward.

I’ve previously written about how during my divorce years I lost the ability to ride flatland due to my over active anxiety.  There was just no focus on what I was doing.  If I rode at all any tricks were either on autopilot or not pulled which took away any motivation to ride.  A couple of years ago I finally got some peace in my life and found I was able to once again click into flatland mode.  The concentration came back.  I had gotten very rusty and lost some tricks but I could be creative again on my bike and have fun.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been some personal issues in my life that had me spiral back into anxiety and depression. Honestly, it scared the shit out of me.  I didn’t want to go back to that dark place.  I saw too many huge problems that were out of my control.  Any focus on the task at hand was impossible.  I realized I needed to climb out of the hole I was digging.

Around all of our homes there are plenty of what I call “two minute jobs”, the little things that have to be done but since they are so small they are easy to ignore.  Well, since my anxiety was killing my ability to focus on big things I started knocking the little ones out.  After two weeks I can sit back in my home and look around and see all the small changes making my life a bit better.  Home is getting more peaceful and we all need that in our lives.  It makes me feel better but there is still the question of riding.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and dragged my ass out of bed.  Within 15 minutes I was on my CX bike and going down the road.  I had no destination in mind but I knew I needed to get some exercise and burn off some energy.  My brain was racing as I pedaled hard and fast as if I was trying to out run my worries.  After my ride I felt better that I had at least gotten out but the stress was still with me.  I realized I needed to try to learn to relax my mind as well as my body.  I started reading up on the bigger issues that were bothering me to educate myself and better understand them.  It helped and by Friday I was ready to try to ride flatland.

Again, I found myself out of bed and getting on my bike before work.  I went to my flatland spot, took some sips of the water I brought with me and started.  I realized I had no idea what I wanted to do so I thought of one particular combo and decided to do it ten times.  As I was finishing I thought of the next combo.  Ten times.  I found my mind drifting and waning toward my problems.  I also noticed that when that happened I couldn’t even begin to pull my trick, reach my goal.  I made a conscious effort to focus on what I was doing at that very moment.  It helped.  I ended up doing about five different combos ten times each.

At the end of my session I was covered in sweat and went over to my water bottle to get a drink and wind down.  I laid my bike on it’s side and sat on it as the water tumbled down my throat.  I could feel the beads of sweat dripping down my body.  Suddenly, I felt a stinging sensation on my leg.  I looked down and saw a black tire burn mark with blood splattered around it.  I hadn’t even realized that I had done that.  It made me smile knowing that I had been focused and in the moment.  I didn’t feel the repeated tire rub against my leg.  I didn’t notice I was bleeding down toward my sock.  I had shut down my anxiety and stress and been in the moment.

In the shower I was cleaning my leg and my worries started coming back to me.  I realized I was able to let them go.  I don’t mean ignoring them, but just putting them where they belong.  Once again the bike taught me a lesson that will get me through life. Even though a shower wouldn’t heal the wound, I could let my anxiety rinse down the drain like the black mark and blood from my leg.  Just like riding, a peaceful mind takes focus, determination and is within our reach if we make a determined effort to find it.

By brettdownsconspiracy