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Getting paid to ride mountain bikes in Moab. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Getting paid to ride mountain bikes in Moab. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I could make a full-time living by writing about mountain bikes. The inspiration came from a comment I received within the first three months of launching my first-ever mountain biking blog, GregRidesTrails.com. It went something like this:

“This article is horrible! It’s poorly written and not informative at all. There’s no way you’ll ever make a full time living as a mountain bike journalist!”

The thing is, I hadn’t even considered turning what I then called “blogging” into a full-time occupation. Rather, the impetus behind Greg Rides Trails was simple. I thought that maybe, down the road somewhere, I would like to become a real writer (but in a more classical sense–editing books, working at a newspaper, something of the like). I figured that I’d actually need to practice writing if I ever wanted to get good at it, so I started a blog to practice the craft of writing using a topic I was already passionate about: mountain biking. And Greg Rides Trails was born.

Fast forward 7 years to today, and I’m quickly approaching 4 years of full-time writing about mountain biking. What started as a comment from a hater has become a fulfilling career.

There’s no shortage of people standing on the sidelines just waiting to jeer at you and put you down. If you look hard enough and spend enough time listening to the peanut gallery, you can always find someone presenting a reason why you should not do something, why you should stop in your tracks, why you are ill-fitted for whatever passion you’re pursuing. The question is, do you give those people the time of day?

How do you deal with criticism? Do you let it stop you in your tracks, destroying your drive and forward momentum? Do you ignore it and block it out entirely? Or do you learn from it and allow it to push you forward?

I’m not even saying that the third option is always the right option. Sometimes–heck, most of the time–blocking out the negativity and preventing it from ever reaching you is the best choice. But sometimes you can’t prevent it.

Anytime a person stands up and says, “I’m going to do something hard. I don’t know if I’ll succeed at it–I could fall flat on my face. But I’m going to try anyway,” the cynics come out of the woodwork.

“You can’t complete a hundred-mile race–you’ve never even ridden 50 miles!”

“You’re too old to mountain bike–that sport is dangerous!”

“You’ll never be able to move to Colorado and live your dream–it’s too expensive. There are no real jobs in a mountain town.”

“You can’t go pro–you don’t fit the stereotype.”

“You can’t make a living talking about mountain bikes on Youtube–it’s never been done before!”

As you think about stepping outside of your comfort zone, just remember: even if the haters aren’t screaming at you from the sidelines, your brain can be your own worst enemy, generating more than enough reasons to not try something risky. It’s called the resistance. The question you have to ask is: what are the reasons why you WANT to do something new? And which reasons are more important: those for, or those against?

So get out there and make your dreams come true, and remember: the most effective way to silence the haters is to succeed despite the resistance.

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# Comments

  • John Fisch

    Not a whole lot of hating or Debbie Downer going on when I was stationed in North Dakota. “Can’t” was generally considered the most offensive four letter word of all. Teddy Roosevelt was the big folk hero and his ethos seemed to have infused the local culture. We lived his mantra from “The Man in the Arena.”

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
    ? Theodore Roosevelt

    • Greg Heil

      Ah Teddy Roosevelt. So much wisdom! Thanks for sharing John!

  • BKXC

    Whenever I see an over-the-top hateful comment that’s trying to hurt me like “Everything about you makes me sick” it makes me sad for the person writing it. They could just be trying to get a rise out of me, or what I’m doing really does make them feel bad about their lives and what they’re doing. Thankfully chasing my dreams seems to have a crazy positive effect on most people that watch my videos.

    I think a lot of the time people are trying to be sarcastic and jokey but it doesn’t come off AT ALL and just sounds mean. I just ignore the haters or kill ’em with kindness.

  • Mark Larson

    Ha, if people are hating on you that means they’re reading your stuff! Which is basically a win for you.

  • Chris Daniels

    Agree with Mark, if someone isn’t hatin’ on you, you’re not trying hard enough. haters end up being our best cheerleaders.

  • Scott Cotter

    Terrible article, Greg, and I suggest you: Stop. Right. Now. Go try something different, say, ditch digging.

    Okay, couldn’t resist.

    But, yeah, if I had a nickel for every person who could do it better than me, hated something I’ve filmed, written or photographed, I’d have enough money to float away on a stream of beer. Wait, that’s not a bad idea is it?

    I think, at the end of the day, those are people who live in fear of putting it on the line themselves and they feel bad about it whether they realize it or not. So pushing people down is how they push themselves up. It’s actually sad. Sitting on the sideline and telling others they can’t do something is the easy way out for someone who is living an unfulfilled life.

    I’d rather risk failing than sitting on my arse without trying whatever it is I want to do. And I’m glad you made that choice, too. It would’ve been easy (for some people) to walk away.

  • mongwolf

    Greg, if you didn’t have such wussy legs and could get your butt up the mountain faster, I think you might make it some day as a writer/editor. =) … … I loved that comment on the latest podcast about drivetrains. Hell, I’d probably need an e-bike to keep up with you on any mountain. =) Keep livin’ the dream, and RIDE ON !!!!!!!!

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