Playing as a kid is something we never question. Yet, somehow, as adults we seem to forget the importance of play. I’m not talking about recreating, I’m talking about playing. Playing, in its purest form, means doing something for the sake of doing it, without an intention or goal or focus.
Playing is something I am working hard to revisit in a serious way in my sport of cycling.
I came into mountain biking through a collegiate team with many awesome, casual, goofy rides with friends (both male and female).
My career took off because I also enjoy racing, which lead me down a whole other path in the sport. Competition teaches incredible self understanding, the ability to fight against the odds, confronting self demons when the pressure’s on, tactics, training, pacing and on and on…
BUT, the greatest skills I’ve acquired in mountain biking came from playing. The more I play and don’t think about my riding in a calculated way or force things, the more I gain from trial and error.
My major goal for the 2017 season is developing skills that I’ve never learned. Manualing, wheelies and big-ass bunny hops and, who knows, maybe a nose manual… the possibilities are endless.
Now that I’ve been a professional bike racer for 8 years, I’m excited to reconnect with bike-play and, I have no doubt, it will be beneficial for all of my riding experiences, even the racing.
This concept on the bike directly parallels life. Life is not meant to be lived with a strategy all the time, with a grand plan for the future. Sometimes, it needs to be goofy, awkward and filled with joy and simple pleasures for no good reason.
I encourage everyone to make room for playtime. Revert to your 4-year-old self, It will make you a better, happier person.