Developing More Skills from Playing than Competing:

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.

WTF am I doing!? Part IV: Patience

I’m not done yet and I am looking forward to a powerful, fearless 2017. The manifestation of a rock-solid sense of self.
 
All good things take time and it’s hard to be a patient person. As I step back and give myself more space to figure things out and make mistakes, I am discovering more open doors on my crooked trail.
 
I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up but, for now, I’m focusing on what I do know. I still want to be a professional mountain biker and cyclocross racer, share some skills and my passion with anyone who will listen, learn from other remarkable people, be inspired, and pay my bills every month.
 
Edward Abbey has been a reoccurring theme in my life recently, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence. There are a lot of silly quotes out there that sound like words of wisdom but are really nothing more than cheap talk, pretending to be inspirational. Mr. Abbey, on the other hand, speaks the truth.
 

 
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.” – Edward Abbey

WTF am I doing!!? Part III: All is Fair in Love and War and Marketing

I did not formally study marketing but the education is all around me, inescapable. We are force-fed examples of what to do and what not to do daily. I am still coming to terms with this world, sometimes kicking and screaming.
 
Admittedly, marketing is not my perfect niche but it has taught me a lot. Trying to do it well has sometimes left me feeling shameless and uncomfortable. I also struggle with sharing something of relevance when there are so many other voices out there all wanting to be relevant.
 
This brings us to the “curse of comparison”.
 
We are comparative creatures and it is easy to get swept up in looking at each other’s journeys for a point of reference to tell us how we’re doing. The truth is, it’s usually frivolous and irrelevant, but that never stops us from comparing and judging. Comparison can lead to creativity and advancement but it can also create jealously, envy and insecurity.
 
One of the greatest irrationalities is thinking that life is supposed to be fair.
 
Marketing myself, inherently puts my self-worth on the line. I don’t get to disconnect from my brand, or at least, I haven’t figured out how do that yet. I am not objective. Every rejection and disappointment is a personal affront.
 
My brand is me, the process of building it sometimes makes me feel diminished.
 
However, this raw experience also gives me a powerful understanding of myself and the confidence to try again.
 
Just as competition is really about competing against oneself, even when there are other competitors next to you, marketing is very personal, even when it feels like it’s about everyone else.
 
There is some piece of this journey that I hope everyone can relate to. It’s a journey about never-ending self-discovery, risk taking and leaping without looking. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’ll get back to you on whether or not it’s been worth it.

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