I saw the movie Reveal the Path when it premiered in Minneapolis back in June. At the end of the movie, Mike “Kid” Riemer, Marketing Manager for Salsa Cycles, the main sponsor of the movie and the event, announced that they were going to be having a Reveal Your Path video contest this summer. The details:
Create a video and tell us your story. You could win a Salsa El Mariachi or Fargo frameset, a complete Fargo or El Mariachi bicycle or the grand prize of a Mukluk Ti bicycle and an Alaskan beach-riding adventure with the Salsa crew!
Perhaps someone—or something—sparked your adventurous spirit when you were a kid. Or maybe you came to it later. Tell us how it happened and where it led you. We want to hear about the great things you’ve done, and continue to do, with bicycles. Most of all, we want to know about the rides you dream of doing in the future. So really—If you could ride your bicycle anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I thought about entering but I struggled to come up with a theme that would be compelling enough for me to want to do the work. I wasn’t interested in just a I-did-this-and-then-I-did-that type entry. Late last week, it occurred to me to do something aimed at my fellow mountain biking geezers but that still wasn’t specific enough. On a whim, I popped in my DVD of the 1971 motorcycle movie On Any Sunday to see if I could get some ideas on how to narrate a documentary. When I watched the segments of just regular folks (not the pros) competing at Sunday motocross races and the Widowmaker hillclimb, I found myself laughing again at the crashing scenes and director Bruce Brown’s witty commentary.
And then it occurred to me: crashing is not fun but it’s part of the fun of mountain biking, just like dirt biking. If you want to improve your skills, you have to be willing to crash. If you’re worried too much about getting hurt, you won’t be too willing to experiment. And one way to keep the fear of getting hurt under control is to wear a lot of protective gear.
Problem: Most of us guys don’t want to be seen as overly safety conscious, so we avoid wearing ‘too much’ protective gear. We’d rather be seen with scrapes and scars, which are informal badges of honor. But pain is sneaky. If you bruise the shit out of your knee in a rock garden, the next time you approach it, your brain remembers what happened last time, even if you consciously don’t. So you take a less demanding line through it, rather than riding and re-riding that line that caused you trouble. Likewise for that high skinny or steep drop. And so your skills stagnate.
Advantage, geezers: When my three sons were teens, I thought I’d try to learn to snowboard with them. That first day nearly killed me. Bruised my knees, hips and tailbone, hit my head hard several times, wrenched my shoulder. (Ski slopes in Minnesota consist of hard-packed snow 90% of the time.) I got the hang of it by the end of the day and knew that the sport could be fun. But if I kept getting hurt like I did on that first day, I knew I wouldn’t keep doing it.
So I bought a snowboard helmet, knee and elbow pads, and most important, a pair of used hockey breezers (hip and tailbone protection). The next time I went snowboarding with the boys, they refused to be seen with me because they said I looked like the Michelin Man with all the protective gear underneath a huge winter coat. Doofus Dad.
But looking back on it now, the reason I came to love snowboarding (I still do it) is that I was willing to constantly crash as I kept learning new stuff. I didn’t have to worry about impressing girls or being made fun of by my buddies by how I looked. My ego was more directed at being able to do little tricks and my body was interested in continuing to increase the pleasurable exhilaration of the sport.
So all of this came together in my head for creating a video for the contest. I would tell my story of my first year of mountain biking but frame it with a sermon to my fellow geezers on how wearing lots of protective gear is a huge advantage for learning to improve your skills, even if you think it makes you look a bit like a doofus who’s overly concerned about getting hurt.
Unfortunately, I only had one day to create the video. And I had no video of myself mountain biking. So I bought a GoPro on Saturday afternoon and used it for the first time on Sunday morning, capturing some clips of me riding at the Lexington Ave. Pump and Jump Park in Eagan (Facebook page) and then at Lebanon Hills. I got home and discovered that much of the video wasn’t usable because A) I was using the chest mount harness and it aimed the camera too low; and B) my water pack’s strap was flapping in front of the lens. AARRGGHH.
With a deadline of midnight looming, I knew I was in trouble. The video was too long (over 14 minutes) and I didn’t have time to shorten it and fix all the little glitches. So while it’s not likely to make the cut (a panel of judges will select eight finalists), I’m glad I did it and hope that my message resonates with a few of you fellow geezers out there.