Zen On Dirt

A question of motivations


Sometimes I’m not very good at listening to my sub-consious. My intuition. My gut. Whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it takes my rational side to acknowledge the irrationality of my feelings and thoughts for me to admit that the psyche has been trying to talk, and I’ve been trying not to listen.

This happened during a Thanksgiving bikepack in the Gila Canyons. For a holiday based on being thankful for what we have, I couldn’t bring myself to muster any sense of internal joy. My rational side saw the beauty of the trail, the surroundings, the fact that I should be celebrating that I can do what I can do, that I should be thankful for my relationships. But while I told myself I should be feeling gratitude, I was feeling anything but. And I felt terrible because of it.


I feel like I’ve been telling myself a lot of stories about who I should be, or who I want me to be. Or maybe who I once wanted to be. The ego has a way of doing that. I want to be a fast bike racer. I want to be good at riding technical stuff. I want to make a decent amount of money and feel financially secure.

But as of late, other stories have been surfacing.


And the rational, habitual thought patterns really don’t like it when the sub-concious intrudes. When it says, ‘Hey, have you thought about this? What are your real motivations behind your stories?’

I’ve been finding massive doses of inspiration and bike riding stoke from people like Kurt dot Dirt, or Gypsy by Trade, or Cass.


In the past, whenever any one asked me why I raced, the answer was always easy: I’m going to have the greatest adventure, ever. CTR, Tour Divide, Iditarod…all huge objectives in a racing sense, but also in the ‘Let’s go see things’ sense.

Caroline came to town last weekend after our bike packing trip and we got to talking about racing. I laid out my plans for 2014: Whiskey 50, 24-hour Nats, Breck Epic, Vapor Trail, and a few others.


‘Why Whiskey?’ she asked.

I didn’t have a good answer. I came up with something about the competition, about wanting to be fast again, but the answers definitely make me feel like I was making up my enthusiasm, sort of like when you’re getting interviewed for a job that you really don’t want but know you need in order to pay rent next month.

I  let the feeling slide, knowing that I was coming off a big week of riding, and well, I tend to not make the most rational decisions when I’m tired.


I fretted about the lingering doubt long after the ride ended. If I don’t race bikes, what do I do? If I’m not a bike racer, who am I? Am I being completely irrational?

But then Scott brought a light of rationality to the situation, as he does so often when I work myself into a tizzy: You don’t have to make the decision right now.


And he’s right. I can keep going out each day and doing the work that will make me fast in April, and for the most part, I enjoy it. I’ll keep doing my core work, because I never want to have to deal with an overuse knee injury again. I’ll keep eating well, because I never want to get sick like I did this summer.


And most importantly, I’ll do my best to turn the stories off and make the most of each day. As a timely Facebook post came from AmyH: I’m just making this up as I go along. But I am sort of curious how I’m going to feel about this whole situation in two weeks.



2 thoughts on “A question of motivations

  1. Do what calls to you, bc if it isn’t really calling to you the work you do to reach it is just work, not joy.

    But keep writing, because I love your posts.

  2. Ha! I love that you cited me here. Funny cause I just wrote a blog about asking for what we want… Miss you.

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