Let me muse on commitment for a moment. Committing to something can be a difficult thing. Meaning it is even tougher. Following through......that's toughest. I found myself pondering this three stage process last night after I got home for a ride with Mr. Gnar up National after work.
We had briefly chatted about our planned route via email in the hours before the ride....but we left it open ended. I think that the retreat in temperatures out of the 110 range back down into the mid-80's left us non-committal as to where we would go. Frankly, we were no longer shackled to limits of exertion due to heat-exhaustion concerns...so we just let it flow. Meeting up in the parking lot, we discussed the route issue once more in about 20 seconds. It went something like this:
Me - "Which way are we going to head up?"
Gnar - "Do you feel like suffering?"
Me - "Sure...what the hell"
Knowing full well what this meant (not climbing Morman, rather..National)....I threw myself into it...well....I threw my verbal skills in the affirmative direction. I did not mention to him that I've never ascended lower Natty before, taking Morman up first to bypass the lower Natty section. I figured I can walk/push my bike up anything just about as fast as someone can ascend tech sections up. And so I did....learning fast that although lower National is just south of Morman and trends in the same direction....the rock forms are vastly different on the trail. Whereas Morman rolls over rounded rock for the most part; Lower National bumps up over front-wheel sucking, inertia robbing fins for most of the initial climb up. I was pushing that bike up most of it as Gnar worked on climbing all the sections....in flats......very humbling. I could of used a "Natty Caddy" for this.
Coming to the intersection of Morman on National...I felt relieved to get back to a part of trail I knew I could make some progress on with respect to practicing my tech up's...rather than walk them off like I had on lower National. Sure...I got some of the basic up's on lower National....but I was walking a majority of the ups. Climbing past the waterfall area, Gnar pointed out the entrance to the waterfall area heading down which leads to an intermediate bench with a run-out prior to dropping off the nose. Gnar asked me if I thought I could do it, reminding me that I had a run-out and would not have to commit to the nose portion of the waterfall. I looked at it; not having ever stepped up to it and thought about it and responded in the affirmative....it looked manageable....I was committed to doing something new.
Taking a run at it....I was unable to even approach the initial drop which looked manageable...getting hung up on a pathetic slot-up prior to the first drop onto the waterfall. This is what haunted me last night. It occurred to me that I was focusing on the initial drop, rather than what was right in front of me. I was trying to solve move #2 before working on move #1....and as a result...was failing miserably at completing move #1....preventing me from even getting to move #2.
Taken in pieces; move #1 and #2 were manageable....however I was lumping them together in my mind and this is where my lack of commitment finds it's root cause. Last night I hypothesized that if I were riding along...and move #1 presented itself with nothing ahead of it (a left hand slot with an up at the entrance)....I would have no problem solving it. Instead...I found myself later that night playing the pathetic attempts to get through move #1 over and over in my head.
I've read somewhere that the biggest part of tech riding is mental management. Taking the problems as they present themselves to you...in order. Getting hung up on move 3 or 4 before solving move 1 is a recipe for failure. And so, it clicked in my mind that this explains my lack of commitment to follow through last night. I know that's just a fancy way of saying my nerves were frayed from thinking about move #2....so I hosed move #1 in the process.
It seems so obvious now...but once on the bike with legs pumping and mind exploding; perhaps I should commit to narrowing my focus to what's presenting itself to me at the moment instead of trying to solve the "what-if's" 30 seconds from now. I've proved over and over again that I can't solve what may happen in the future at the expense of the present...so why not try solving just one problem at a time? Suddenly, commitment to one thing seems a lot easier than commitment to a mixed-bag of "What-if's".
Hopefully I can commit to that commitment.