Dirt Bikes and new Battlegrounds

Ans on Honda CRF125B

Learning to ride a dirt bike at age 47 presents you with one big disadvantage: Somewhere in the last 40 years you figured out that you’re not immortal and learned to choose calculated risks over reckless endeavors. 

I surrendered to the call of adventure and my husband’s colorful descriptions about the fun to ride dirt bikes before we got married and suggested instead of an expensive ring we should get a dirt bike. Cruising home with a Honda CRF 250 strapped to the truck bed the day after our wedding, I  took a good plunge out of my comfort zone from the beginning.  Since we decided to start riding ‘real trails’, and specifically the rocky loop behind our house to improve my skills, I’ve had to wrestle with quite a challenge to my courage. I’m not afraid of scrapes, but pointing a dirt bike down a deep rutted trench with big loose rocks, that can be a bit of a mind twist.

The fact is, I’m not a daredevil type of gal. I can be quite daring when it comes to throwing paint onto a canvas with all the energy I have (it can be intimidating!!), but I’ll not punch a bear off my deck (we’ve had a lot lately), and I usually have zero inclination to jump off an ocean cliff. 

However, my approach to fear has been changing rapidly lately. Apart from a crazy 2022 with my life being completely dis-and re-assembled, I had to face some old inherited fears together with my newly chosen challenges. Taking a deep breath and driving a heavy 250 into a deep sand wash despite some trepidation, mastering it, laying the bike down the next time and doing it again anyways, left a seed. Every fear you overcome, even if it’s a little one, can teach your mind the beginning of a big new truth. 

In spring, on another battlefield, I was facing an onslaught of some old fears that had been an occasional visitor all my life. My vivid imagination is very good at rallying down ‘What If’ rabbit holes that can lead to dark dead ends. Since I figured these irrational fears were unique to me (don’t we always think we’re the only ones fighting this one specific problem?), I was actually pleased to find some advice on it in The Owner’s Manual (2 Tim 1:7, 2 Cor 10:5). It’s impossible to rationalize away irrational fears. If our mind would be open to rational thought in that specific field at that moment, we’d not be going down those speculations in the first place.

We‘re called to take detrimental thoughts captive instead. But how does that look in practice? I found out during an unusual barrage of nightmares and ‘what if’ fears in spring. Fighting an unfounded panic ‘out of nowhere’, that helped blow a ridiculous germ up into an avalanche, I finally remembered that fear is not my friend. And I don’t have to give in to it, even if it feels different at that moment. I recalled a message about turning the abuse of our gifts (like my colorful imagination) back around to defeat the attack. Provided with an ample backlog of cheesy old martial art movies I pictured myself slashing up detrimental thoughts with a big old katana sword, causing bloody mayhem (including all the bad 80s special effects!) that left no opposing thought on their feet. 
In fact, I learned quickly that I don’t even have to fight the battle by myself, if the attack feels too strong for me or if I tire. 

What a useful tool! It would have been impossible to employ without looking at fear from a different perspective. 

Back to the trails behind the house: my first attempt to ‘ride real quick together for an hour before work’ was disheartening. I actually panicked already on our crazy steep driveway and planted myself in the trench for starters. Ugh! Made it up after pulling myself together. Navigating through those deep ruts in a state of overwhelm, and bouncing across big rocks while trying to keep clutch and lever and throttle and all together, I laid my bike down a couple more times in the forest. Going downhill grandma style with my feet on the ground in the deepest trench and still struggling did not improve my confidence. To top off the experience, as I was motor-breaking down that driveway again, lacking the experience that you want to lean back and weigh your back wheel, I had it slide out from under me - and gently sprawled out again. Ugh!!!! I felt like the least talented dirt bike rider to ever attempt to sit on one. 

I resolved to ride many other trails first. In fact, getting ready for my first ride after this one gnarly loop I was so nervous I couldn’t even eat breakfast. I clenched my teeth, did my best to put up a smile and did it anyways, with lots of prayer (I love the helmet pack talk that allows us to constantly communicate, but I wish I could mute out the many prayers in various prayer languages that I’m uttering all along the trail 🤣🤣).  And guess what: the ride was really fun and went well. As I drove home I turned on a random podcast on Spotify, and it was Joyce Meyer talking about Living Courageously and turning down fear- ‘if you can’t do it without fear, then do it with fear!’ Amen to that. 

My stubbornness had me back at the loop of doom again one week later. I avoided some mistakes and found some new ones. I even whiskey throttled myself into an innocent little tree (I could hear my Mom’s voice in my head scolding me for having become a tree hitter instead of a tree hugger)! I’m not sure how my patient husband finds the grace to shower me with uplifting words and instructions through my blunders and frustration. 

There is one big difference though: huge land masses of thought patterns and self perception have started to move inside. The books and podcasts I came across happened to all talk about fear and winning battles. I’m learning to overcome. There’s still countless situations where I can see myself freaking out.  I’m not fearless, but I’m not a victim either. It is said, everything you do stems either from fear or from love. I have big plans, and I have to pursue the not-fear option. 

If I can do that, with a minimum amount of Superman gene, everyone can. As you overcome you’re learning more about the obstacle you’re overcoming, as well as about yourself. 
Go face that ferocious water slide your kids have been trying to lure you down! 
Wave your broom at that ugly spider in the bedroom corner! 

See what surprises are waiting for you as your youthful adventures may grow you into maturity after all 😊