On crashing and how your mind can destroy your comeback

So, what do you think? About a year after I crashed, after a year of hard work getting into shape: I CRASHED! AGAIN! With a concussion and bruised kidney once again. I can not understand how a biker comes home with a bruised kidney… twice! So I’m benched again, hopefully this time not for 3 months, I’m aiming at 6 weeks tops. But you never know. Should this put a mark on the plans I had for riding next year? I don not have any intention to subscribe to a yearly kidney issue, that sounds like a bad thing. So, should I give up on full-on downhill? Is enduro downhill still acceptable? I could get run over on a road bike and end up worse. Sports can be hard when it’s kicking your ass… so how do you come back from that…

Getting all ZEN on you

Crashing is hard on the body and hard on the mind. I usually have one rule when it come to riding and risk-taking: I want to go back to work on Monday and ride again next weekend. That’s a rule that applies on any day of the week: I like my work and I like riding as much as I can. So, what do you do when the body has finally mended and you are ready to get back on that iron horse? Is your mind ready for it or is it still hurting?

When you are most happy on the bike, when everything works out and you are on top of the world and there’s no thoughts just riding: we have flow!

When you’re riding in the flow your mind is not telling you what to do (‘be careful of that rock’, ‘don’t go too fast here, remember last time’). A state of flow happens when your mind doesn’t interfere and you just ride. You have your skills and experience, the situation at hand matches your level of riding and there’s the right amount of challenge ahead of you. There’s no need for the mind to add anything to this equation, you just ride. This is where flow lives. So now you can go out and look for it… can you?

This is what your mind does

When your body has mended but your mind is still hurting, your mind maybe hurting your comeback. It gets easy once you understand the (limited) tricks your mind uses to sabotage your comeback; or any other obstacles for that matter (trying to quit smoking, or eat healthier, work out more? Keep reading). Your mind can only grab back to events from the past and make us believe that it can prediction the future. Sure we can learn not to burn our fingers. But when we start to believe we can actually predict the future; we can’t get back on the bike, not really quit smoking or get into shape: and we’re in trouble.

Can we learn to ignore these false predictions? Because it makes sense to not ‘get burned’. When do we learn a valuable lesson and when are we buying into the bullshit…? You know! Like you know when someone’s lying to you, you know when your mind is feeding you thoughts with false predictions. You can just take notice, and not get carried into the drama of it all. And soon you’ll naturally enter the state of flow without a hurting mind interfering and things get easier, yeah you might even consider yourself ‘zen’.

If it’s getting back on the bike, don’t throw yourself of the Champéry Worldcup track to start with 😉 Baby steps, start to enjoy yourself first, find the flow and stop believing to your thoughts. Dont’ tell it to shut up because that won’t work. Just go out and do.

On goals

Once we’re on the subject of zen and learning not to believe your thoughts. I’d like to go one step further; don’t set goals. Getting attached to reaching those goals, will get your mind involved and knock you right out of that state of flow.

Especially when you go out and the first ride out isn’t that most enjoyable ride ever; they’re coming to get you!  Don’t believe them, just go out again and ride. Just riding is what makes me happy, sure I have certain wishes to win races or be very good at something, but a day of just riding is putting smiles on my face. And you know what: these flow rides is when you grow. I dare even to say: this is when you become the best you can become. And perhaps you can become first on your big race, if you’re into racing. Not get stressed with thoughts on goals and expectations, is when you start winning. You’re fit, you’ve got the skills and the track is ‘made for you’; no reason you shouldn’t win. If you see Danny Hart’s championship-run in Champéry, I bet you he’s not thinking for one second about losing or winning. See that whip?? That is utter flow and enjoyment and that’s where great performances come from.

Photo by Fraser Britton