For most riders, mountain biking is about fun and fitness. For me, mountain biking has been a life-changing experience. I discovered mountain biking at a time when I needed it the most, and am grateful for the benefits it has brought to my life. Here are three ways mountain biking has changed my life for the better.
Mountain biking increased my self-confidence
I have struggled with self-confidence since I was a child. I am my own worst critic. I rarely see the good in myself that others recognize and praise me for. However, since I started mountain biking, I have gained more confidence in myself. I recognize the progress I have made since I first started, and the success I have had in conquering difficult sections of trail.
That confidence carried over into other aspects of my life. I have become more relaxed at work because I believe that, if I can conquer a technical climb or a steep descent, then I can tackle any problem I might face at the office. Gaining self-confidence has also reduced my stress levels and made me more fun to be around.
Mountain biking helped me learn to be comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone
I have always been a creature of habit. I don’t like change. Instead, I like to stick to the same schedule and routine whenever possible. When I started mountain biking, I quickly learned that I had to get out of my comfort zone in order to get the most enjoyment out of the sport. I discovered that the thrill of pushing myself to clean a difficult obstacle or explore a new trail far outweighed the fear of what could happen if I failed. Furthermore, I learned that you can’t prepare for everything. When the unexpected happens, you just have to know the right way to react.
Learning to live outside my comfort zone has greatly benefitted me as a father. Even though I read parenting books, I had no idea how unpredictable and challenging children are. The unplanned moments of parenthood have been the most rewarding for me. I still have a ways to go, but I believe my experiences mountain biking have helped me be a little calmer when my son throws me a curve ball.
Mountain biking helped me become more extroverted
I freely admit that I am an introvert by nature. I have never been comfortable talking to strangers or being in a large crowd. Ironically, I was drawn to mountain biking because I could seek solace in the woods, however, I learned that mountain bikers are a gregarious group. Riders I didn’t know would come up to me before or after a ride, and strike up a conversation. Or, a rider would see me struggling with a section of trail, and offer me advice on how to clear it.
At first, I was really nervous when faced with such encounters, but over time I started welcoming them. Now, I really enjoy being a part of the mountain biking community and sharing my experiences with fellow riders. Thanks to the sport, I have developed a strong bond with my riding partner, and have met some really great people along the way.
For me, mountain biking is more than just riding through the woods
When I went on my first ride nearly 10 years ago, I had no idea that mountain biking would change my life. I was just looking for something fun to do. What I found instead was so much more. In addition to raising my fitness to a whole new level, mountain biking has benefitted my mental health and changed my character for the better. It has help shaped me into the person I am today, and I am thankful for that.
How has mountain biking changed your life for the better? Please feel free to share in the Comments section below.