A Lesson Mountain Biking Taught Me

So there I was, this past Saturday, getting up at 5 a.m. to hit a local mountain bike trail at Rotary ParkThe Bicycle Center of Clarksville’s owner told me about some recent additions and tweaks to the trail system for me to check out a few months back.  I saw some pictures and figured I could handle it so I have been trying to get out to ride it since March.  There was one section in particular which I was anxious to test my amateur biking skills on.  It was a double switchback.  The pic to the left is a single switchback .  But add in a second one right after it and both have incline walls to turn on like the pic on the right, only smaller by about half.  I personally do not see how anyone can do it.  I am going to go back to the guy and see if he knows of anyone who has done it and who can give me pointers on how not to toss my body down the trail.

To make a long story short, I ended up flipping over my handlebars in the first turn as I went over it.  I initially was heading towards a tree, then as I began the flip I saw a set of boulders that I thought I was going to bite the dust on, until I landed to the right of them and slid into the other switchback.  I managed to bruise my left thumb joint, scrape my knee in several spots, bruise my left forearm and several spots on my shoulders and back.  I have been trying to find a video of someone else crashing like I did but there is simply not one out there.  What gives?

Anyways, I learned some important things about risk and consequence yesterday that have helped me keep a better perspective on decision making.

1. Do research before taking risk to help mitigate the consequences or the chance of negative consequences.  Had I checked with a few other cyclist or asked about how to properly handle switchbacks in advance then I could have saved myself a lot of pain. The same is true for starting a new business, taking a trip to a new country, going through new events in a marriage (like having a child, or two, or three, or four…).  Talk to people who have done it and learn from their mistakes and successes.

2. Even if you see the risk ahead of time you might still be able to back out of it.  This would allow you to prepare better.  Seize those moments, they happen for a reason.  I had a brief spot where I could have hopped the trail and gotten back on the one that brought me to the top of the hill.  Had I taken that and done my research now that I had seen the risk I would have been better prepared (point 1 above).  Not taking it was unwise.

3. Because I did not know how to handle the switchback I suffered some pain.  Had I known how to do it, I might have ended up hurt worse.  The lesson: even after researching the pros/cons of something you might end up taking a greater risk than originally intended with more consequences than before.  This is not a bad thing, but it just needs to be considered.

Those are probably the top three things I learned.  So to sum up: research, delay the risk if you are not ready in order to research, and be ready for the risk to be greater than previously expected once you have done the research.

Have a great week!

Keith

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