Fear and Doubt… What’s it all about?

This past weekend I went with two riders from the EDM wrecking crew to a local track to play ride. Jaime and I were new to this track, Paul had been before. It was a fast natural terrain outdoor MX track with a few medium sized gap jumps, uphill-downhill sections and soft loamy dirt. I arrived a little late and the 2-stroke 250/ 450 class was already on the track. So I hastily got into my gear and went out onto the track. In my rush to ride I forgot to bring something I always bring when I ride… doubt.

I was so excited about riding this new track I completely forgot that I should be afraid of some of the jumps. Amazingly I’d left my fears behind. I immediately hooked up with another rider who appeared to ride at a pace I could keep and before I knew it I was clearing jumps I would only dream of on the drive to the track that day… two step up gap jumps going up a hill. Normally I would roll these but today I was clearing them with ease!

What happened to my fear?

The question I have is this. What happened to my fear? Where did it go? Just one week before at my usual Saturday track I had nothing but fear for jumps that would rate about the same level on the pucker-factor scale. No matter what I told myself, I could not persuade myself to keep the throttle open. Is it possible we convince ourselves that because we were not able to clear an obstacle the first time at a track we can never clear it? That in some way we construct a monument to it and make it something greater than it actually is? Waking from sleep in the middle of the night sweating.

Do we allow our doubt to create this ugly monster that causes the crippling fear which makes us roll the throttle off instead of on?

It’s painful to watch another rider face this, particularly if you are clearing the obstacle. You see them looking as if they are going to go for it and at the last second they hit the brakes or close the throttle. You know the jump is easy if you just go fast enough. And yet this poor guy can’t find the balls. You’ve been there before.

If you have pals that you ride with, you probably have some in the group who are faster and some slower than you. A faster rider can pace you through a series of obstacles to help you determine the right gear and speed to use. This is often very helpful but even with a buddy pacing us we can still be reluctant to roll on the throttle instead of rolling off.

My usual Saturday track has a triple double section that I can’t bring myself to commit to. I can get the first and last jumps but the middle one… I just can’t keep it on. Every time I come to this gap jump I tell myself “this time I’m gonna open the throttle” but the doubt comes and I roll it… again.

Fear is a good thing for the preservation of the species. It helps keep us safe from harm and away from situations we should not be exposed to. The bad thing about fear is it also prohibits us from doing many things we wish we could do…

Ed