85-I’m Sure I’m The Only Man Who Has Ever Fallen On A Bicycle!
The warm summer air sucked into the pump and then was forced into the rubber tube that makes a mountain bike the perfect vehicle to get your body down a single-track dirt trail littered with rocks and roots. I tried to maintain my cool-guide-status but internally I was excited to have the AID Mountain Biking crew together for their first training session—feeling good about the group, mostly full of experience points minus one rider who is still green on a bike, we are ready to make some Project Forty history! Fired up and ready to blast my way into the warm up, I reminded our new guy about the small drop right at the entrance of the trail.
Crank, crank a little harder, shift higher, crank… the gears and drivetrain caused my tires to gain some momentum across the gravel of the beaten down parking lot, then as I leaned left into the trail entrance I announced, “Remember this little drop right at the beginning here… control the bike.” A very quick and inexperienced reply came echoing back without hesitation—“I know this trail!” Famous last words. Sandwiched between myself and co-guide, our newest team member hit the drop, but he met his match as the front tire of his bike landed in the soft sand and dirt on the left shoulder of the trail, rendering what training he had at this moment quite useless. He fought to keep the handlebars in his grip, but gravity had its perfect work, momentum executing a flawless maneuver to jack-knife the front pivot point of the machine and send its rider into the dirt and leaves… pride stays in the parking lot.
I thanked my long-time friend for letting me share his story because it is so fitting for life. In fact, after the ride we regrouped in the shade for a quick breather and debrief of our first couple miles. When we learned of his comment and immediate fall, then followed by his tenacity to get back up and keep pressing on, we were all reminded of our own moments of pride and the journey that we have been on. By the end of the day each of us had taken a fall, some over the handlebars, other into the bushes after falling off a skinny (fallen tree that you ride like a balance beam), I shoulder-checked a tree on a tight turn, someone missed a curve altogether on a bridge and went off into the swampy terrain… we all fall, literally—and that’s how we learn to press on with a healthy fear and respect for the trail. So it is in life.
I think the only time I’ve really ever hurt myself was immediately after I had been warned, challenged, or was showing off: “Matt, be careful of nails, watch where you step.” Result: a trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot. “You’re going to slip with the pliers and cut yourself!” Result: same doctor for stitches but fortunately I already had the tetanus immunity from the first trip. “Hey Mr. Matt, I bet you can’t grab the deck from here…” Result: surgery on my right shoulder to sew back the ligaments I tore trying to prove I could jump high enough to hang from the deck. “Let me show you how to use a jump!” Result: weeks of physical therapy on the same shoulder. I think you get the picture.
I have eaten a few more humble pies throughout the early months of 2018 and my journey down the bumpy trail to humility continues. Pride comes in so many shapes and sizes and it’s quite tricky to identify at times. There are many scriptures in the Bible about pride, but if I had to choose one to share with you now it would have to be Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall…” which is quit fitting for the new guy in whose shoes we have all been at one time or another. The only way that I have learned to battle that creeping prideful spirit is to keep my focus fixed on the Lord. It takes intentional effort of placing God and others ahead of ourselves, which is a big-ask in the world of “I-everything!” At the end of the day, pride or humility, we are all on a journey begun by Yahweh and He “will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6. Be blessed and stay humble!