There are many ways to tell you’re unfit on a mountain bike. Like when the first twenty minutes of a ride you are distracted; these arm-warmers are not on the correct arm, you stop swap them, okay. What’s the squeak? I mean, what is it? You ride but the squeaking continues and you know that if you were in the zone, if you were fit enough to get to the start of the zone, squeaks wouldn’t bother you. There it is again. Keep riding, you reckon your seat is too low, no, it’s okay, keep riding, fuck, look at that rock, look at that rock, look at that rock, keep riding, and stop looking at the freaking rocks, okay, keep riding, yeah, no, yeah, the seat’s too low, stop.
That was my ride this morning. Overthinking, staring at obstacles, ruing my lack of fitness, sore legs, sore arms, all with occasional moments of mountain biking brilliance. Carve that turn, pump those potholes, little more grunt for that tight hill, but the flashy, good bits I’m putting down to muscle memory.
Muscle memory gets you through when fitness and skill will not. Your muscles, your body, remember the big picture and takes roots and ruts and rocks at its leisure. All this while your brain is blissfully trying to undermine you.
This afternoon it occurred to me that lately I’ve been looking for rocks and ruts and pile-ups in my life off the bike, too. I’ve been of the anti-depressant for must be six weeks and my mood has generally been good but glitchy. Last week I thought the black dog was back disguised as PMT. I was sad for no real reason, and I wanted chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. I fell right in for a few days. It’s this week now, no bleeding, so it can’t be PMT, unless it’s the special elongated kind, and I’m looking for hiccoughs, clinging onto a bad sad mood because that’s the only way I know how to travel.
I’ve had depression off and on for years and I don’t think I know how to live ‘happy’ or if not happy then like a regular person. If I’m happy, then I’m super-happy-elated to be smiling while at the same time wondering when the next train-wreck will happen and if my ticket is valid.
Maybe your state of being is muscle memory, too. After all, I can slip into desolate in the space of a quick afternoon and I can stay there without demand for weeks, malaise is easy for me, even though it’s a default I don’t like.
Maybe I can change the default.
It’s time to hit the books again. As they say, when in doubt read. I never did read up to the last page of Russ Harris’s ‘The Happiness Trap’. I read, nodding, taking it all in, seeing the sense ACT made, right up until it seemed to require something more of me. Something more than simple agreement.
This happy, sad, little faith in myself, and my ‘moods’ can’t go on. With respect, because there is plenty, I know what it’s like to grow up with a mother whose moods swing on a pendulum whose timing you can’t get a fix on. My mother was loving and she was funny, but she was often sad or angry and certainly unapproachable. I don’t want that for my kids and I can see it happening. Perhaps I’m catastrophising.
No time like now to begin to stop.
I’ll read the book, I’ll apply what I learn, I’ll look at life as a whole, the big adventure, and not as a bunch of ruts to snag my rear wheel on.
Look ahead along the trail, not at the obstacles in front of me. Enjoy the smooth downhill sailing of a little less effort and relish the hard-going uphills for the chance to learn more about myself and what’s possible.
Last week I invented a saying, ‘knowledge is power’. I hope you like it. I do.