Bad memories have a tendency to interfere with future dreams. There are ghosts in every machine. We make decisions, we take actions, we create results. Some we like, some we don't. If you are pursuing your dream and playing your big game and about to make a big move, chances are there is something from your past hidden in your consciousness. What's your move? What's holding you back?
My friend Craig took the above photo of me in April of 2017 at the start of Portal Trail in Moab, one of the most dangerous mountain bike trails on the planet. What the version of me smiling in the photo does not know, is that about thirty minutes later I'd be flying over my handle bars and into the hospital for emergency surgery and 8 days recovering from a torn bowel and a close call with septic shock.
This was by far the most physically uncomfortable and painful week of my life. What might be surprising is that it was also one of the most joyful. The year before I was miserable and depressed golfing in Scotland in the lap of luxury. This is super counter-intuitive. Scotland was low joy high pleasure and Moab was high joy low pleasure. What's up?
During my 8 days in the hospital I had plenty of time to reflect on my decisions and how I do life. One of the major things I learned was super powerful.
Every painful crash is preceded by a single moment of ego.
The day of the crash, I was riding with an elite level cyclocross racer who was crushing me on the climbs. As he should. I discovered that I could make up time on the descent by taking more risk. My last thought before crashing was one of pride. I was enamored at myself for being "so much faster than Craig." The amount of attention required to house that thought in my conscious mind for just that brief moment was right in the razor thin margin between crash and no crash.
One of the most glorious moments of my life is deceptively simple in retrospect. I had not eaten or showered for 5 days when the surgeon decided to rip the tubes from my nose and abdomen and tape me up so I could have a shower. I spent almost an hour under the beautiful hot water. When I got out of the shower, a simple meal of broth, jello and tea awaited me. I just stood there and wept. I'd never been so blown away by something so basic.
The birth of much needed humility starts with the essentials of life.
I am returning to Moab in a few weeks for a mountain biking stage race. Three grueling days of back breaking climbs and shall we say "careful" descents. I'm a different man heading South this April. Going to the hospital was fun to do once but it's not an experience I need to repeat. I've been training with an excellent coach for six months. I'm physically ready to have a great three days, but more importantly, I am spiritually ready. There's no threat of a podium dangling there. And you know what? I'm just fine with that. I am going down to race with a really good friend and I am having fun.
Good friends, Good times. Game on!