Twenty-six years ago, Pedro and I purchased our first mountain bikes. Pedro still has his original bike, only now it stays on a wind-trainer in the house, and we use it during the winter to stay in shape. Over the intervening years, they have provided us with many an adventure, hours of exercise and a lot of enjoyment. Well, mostly.
His skill level has always exceeded mine—mostly because he’s stronger and naturally more athletic than I am. Not to mention that I’d rather not fall and hurt myself, while his motto is “Blood, Sweat and Gears.”
About four years ago I lost a lot of my enjoyment for the sport. No one incident caused me to lose interest, but a lot of it had to do with my equipment. I purchased my second mountain bike about two years BEFORE some genius invented disc brakes (for those who aren’t into biking, disc brakes allow you to stop the bike with a gentle squeeze of a single finger on each hand as opposed to a Vulcan death grip on the old style caliper brakes that squeezed each side of the wheel).
We did a lot of riding in Montana, where one climbs steadily for an hour or two, and then zooms down in a matter of minutes (I may exaggerate slightly). My little old fingers had a hard time hanging on to the brakes for extended periods of time—the day after a ride my fingers hurt so badly I could scarcely type.
The second reason I lost my joy in riding had to do with heat. I hate heat. When I ride, I want it cold when I start out and not over 65 by the time I finish. We moved to Arizona. It’s often 65 degrees outside at 4 in the morning. Enough said.
Of course, when Pedro found donors to donate money to our school to start a mountain biking program for the students, he kept asking me if I’d drive a vehicle (he was able to purchase an enclosed trailer and 10 nice mountain bikes with front suspension and disc brakes). And I decided that if I went along for the drive, I might as well go along for the ride. But first I’d need a bike with disc brakes.
Two weeks ago, I made the last payment on a new mountain bike with disc brakes—and I’ve already been on two rides with students. Yesterday, as I rode at the end of the line, enjoying the breeze, the pleasant day, the wildflowers, the accomplishments of the students and time spent in nature, I had time to think about the spiritual applications of mountain biking.
First of all, the right equipment makes all the difference in one’s enjoyment. A bike with nice suspension and disc brakes brought the joy back into my riding. The purists say that riding old school, with no suspension, shows how hard-core the rider is. I say that’s nuts. I’m too old to have my brains rattled out and my hands fall off. In the same way, a person should study a version of the Bible that speaks to them. There’s nothing more holy about reading the Bible in Shakespearian language. If I’m reading a love letter, I want to understand it—all of it. Find a translation that speaks to you and makes you feel loved and understood.
Second, it’s possible (ok, probable) that one’s attitude has a lot to do with one’s enjoyment. I PREFER to exercise under certain circumstances—but the last two times I went riding, I had a blast despite the time or day or weather. Once you find a version of the Bible that you love, make a commitment to read it, study it, enjoy it, learn from it and apply it to your life. If you make a commitment with your attitude, you’ll enjoy your time with God a lot more. Click To Tweet
Third, beware the burdens that you take on. This admission pains me to make, but I let my enthusiasm for photography unduly burden me. I had great reasons for hauling my camera with me—after all, mountain biking takes a person to some pristine places and one never knows when one will have a chance to photograph a bear or a rare bird. By the time I went on my last mountain bike ride with my old bike, my camera, water, spare tubes, snacks, binoculars and lenses, my backpack weighed in at over 30 pounds. All of that extra weight really changes a person’s center of balance—making it difficult to peddle up hills or confidently zoom down them. Likewise, as people seeking a relationship with God, we must beware the burdens that we take on. We can’t multitask during the time we spend with him, nor should we confuse relationship with following the forms and traditions of a religion. Religiosity is not #Christianity. Click To Tweet
There you have it—the spiritual applications of Mountain biking. Have you discovered spiritual applications in something that you enjoy?
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