I envision my demise. I hesitate to even say so, and I pray my wife is not reading these words (no danger…she’s not), because even writing it down acknowledges something I would prefer not to, that I do contemplate my mortality.
Relative to other riders my age (47) I would count myself a risk-taker. I’m not doing the Dew. I’m not high on Monster Energy, or wearing RedBull flatbrims, but when it comes to riding a bike I like to take on challenges that elevate my risk of hitting the ground. I’m ok with that. I call it part of the bargain of having maximum fun.
Evel Knievel was one of my childhood heroes (also, Muhammad Ali and Eric Heiden), so I learned to ride bikes during a time when America was collectively celebrating the daredevil spirit. My approach to BMX was very much inspired by jumping buses and fountains and canyons.
But sometimes I envision crashes. I visualize myself taking the wrong line and coming to serious grief. I see myself being hit by a car, bouncing off the windshield, coming down on the asphalt. These images come unbidden. I daydream them. And then I shake them off and move on with my life.
For the most part, when I do crash, I come to terms with it pretty quickly. Just a couple months back I had an unexpected encounter with a pair of cars, and I was able to shake it off in 60 seconds, get back on, and ride. It is true to say I have been lucky through the years, but also that I’ve been on the ground more than most.
This week’s Group Ride asks two questions. The first is, are you a risk taker or do you play it safe? I don’t think one is better than the other. We all have our own goals, and individual approaches to risk are mostly aligned with those goals. The second question is, do you ever visualize crashes? Is this just an unavoidable product of a burgeoning sense of our own mortality? Or is it something more rudimentary even than that?