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.