Ever lose your mojo? Maybe at the least convenient moment? Not just during race season, but for the biggest races on your calendar…and then the last race of the season. Nothing like going out with a bang; which would be a good thing had it not been me who was shoved out the bullet chamber, piercing thru sticky muck and slamming right into slick rock at super sonic speed.
This is not a story of dejection or woe. Nor is it the tail of the underdog overcoming hardship and opening up a can of whoop-ass on the competition. This is the real life of a slightly above-average mountain biker racer who took a chance as a pro. A story of absurdity with a little strife and buffoonery thrown in for your reading pleasure. Ok, sometimes it is opening up that can of whoop-ass and it is, just a little bit, for my writing pleasure.
So what the heck is mojo anyway? The dictionary tells me it is the ‘art or practice of casting magic spells or voodoo’ or it can be ‘an amulet or a charm believed to be magic’. Hmpff…If I could cast a magic spell on my beloved Epic, never would I so deliciously eat dirt again. Hmm..maybe I can stop off in Sedona for a Wiccan talisman to bestow super shreddy technical powers upon this bag o’ bones.
No, it’s not magic. At least not in the sense illusion or witchcraft speak of. Maybe hitting a sweet jump for the first time or giggling thru some whippty-do’s on flowy trail or teetering inches from a cliff’s edge produce a mystical frenzy of thrill permeating our soul that can only be described as magic. This is what makes riding and racing mountain bikes fun. This is why we keep coming back for more, why we pick ourselves up off the ground to try again. Is it, then, that we create our own mojo by acting further on this derangement of pleasure? Doesn’t this then make losing it that much more disheartening? That maybe if we create it, we are who bring about it’s departure, as well. Ah-Oooh…it’s all in your head!.. she says.
Let’s think about that for a moment. Hesitation. Hesitation on a drop leads to two things: uncertainty followed by slamming into something much harder than your head. If we delve deeper…Uncertainty of what exactly? That the bike will break? Probably not. That the ground will suddenly shift three feet to the left just as you plan to land? Usually not. Although, I’ll swear to it that the earth has moved beneath my wheels on at least a handful of occasions.
Or is it That YOU can not make it over said drop? Yea, more likely, there’s the ticket. Guess where that lies…in your head. Ok, so you hesitate. And you’re down. But you pick yourself up and roll on. Next little obstacle: ‘oh, heck no! I’m gettin’ off before that rock eats me!’ And then- ‘that curve looks too sandy or that incline too loose’. BRAKE. Slide. In sets the frustration. Where does frustration come from? The dirt doesn’t cause it. Rocks don’t cause it. The insecure individual inside your head causes you frustration. Guess what’s just disappeared, unknowingly gone adrift into the oblivion of bad dreams featuring broken teeth? Oh, my mojo. That marvelous concept I didn’t even know I had until it was lost. But now that it’s gone, I want it back. I need my mojo. Why? Because then focus runs out the door chasing mojo down. Oh, damn, I’ve lost that now, too. Soon after, joy finds it’s way out a window in pursuit of both mojo and focus. What the heck? Joy’s gone AWOL?! So, for you equation lovers: no mojo= no focus + no joy= we’re no longer having fun here. And isn’t fun why we’re here to begin with? My frenzy of thrill has just diffused into a black hole of discouragement and despair thereby taking me out of the present moment and anxious for the next pain-inducing booby-trap laid out on the trail surely put there for me to bleed over. Time to stop. No, not stop riding, stop thinking. Ah-uh, sure, just stop thinking….it’s that easy.
After a decent first race in the White Mountains followed by a nice little execution of endurance at the Dawn to Dusk, springing into a slightly less powerful, although still very passionate 24 HOP plagued with sight and back issues; came a less than spectacular performance at the Whiskey Off-Road, followed by a stellar show of skill in the MBAA marathon finals, to then crudely schlepping along the course of the Full Growler; it’s safe to say I have a tendency of misplacing my mojo.
How do we go about the rediscovery of our mojo and halt the repeated displacement of that “magic”? Not by quitting. Besides, no one likes a quitter. No, I’m kidding; but quitting does last forever and whether we like it or not, is also sometimes necessary in the body-demolishing sport we play at. This is more about faith and love and kindness. And delight in the things we do. Guess where all that comes from. That’s right. Inside yourself. I create my mojo, remember? Yep, I then also taketh away. By having faith in myself that I can do this, love of the journey my bikes take me on, kindness to myself when I fail by picking it up again and being positive I can do it next time and by remembering the delight that lunacy of soul-thrilling, whoopty-wahooing trail brings me. It takes going out to ride..just for the ride. No heart rate monitor, no segments, no scolding myself over putting a foot down, no structure. Just the simple pleasure of a ride, on dirt, in the trees, off the beaten path. Hearing my heart beat as I climb, purging the old air out and pulling refreshing air in and the feel of wheels crunching over dirt. The smell of sage (in a most recent case of investigating into the missing mojo at Phil’s World) and sweat. The smile-inducing downhills and flow of multiple riders hitting all the lines along the trail. A good hoppy beer afterwards over tales of this rock or that curve or some snake you were both thankful to have slipped by. These things are what make up that magic talisman, the elements that feed the soul and keep you coming back for more. Keeping the intention of “just because I love it” while in the midst of race season, while training hard and beating the self up over losses or squeaked by wins possibly undeserved, or not, is how we keep our mojo from making a dash towards some place less structured and a little more happy. I mean, isn’t this why we started doing this in the first place? Less of ‘the man’ telling ya what to do and more being happy. There is always going to be disappointment in life and anything worth having in life, whether for play or at the daily grind, takes hard work. Besides, sitting back having the silver spoon feed you isn’t really that fun anyhow.
I have many things to be thankful for. I have had some pretty awesome sponsors stick around and support me thru the wins and the losses. Incredible encouragement to be who I am and the best I can be from Forest Canyon and Northern Arizona Gastro; tons of guidance, faith and anything I could possible need from Oro Valley Bicycle. Having GU Energy Labs provide the absolute best in way of sport nutrition and their continued supportive inspiration, has really given me the strength and stamina to survive some near-crushing endurance races and the training to prepare for them. My dear, loving husband has put up with hours and hours of training and bike maintenance and the emotional roller coaster ride of living with an endurance athlete. He is my biggest supporter and I am his biggest fan. I am thankful for all those out there cheering when I round a corner or cross the finish, I hope I can inspire you all to be the best you can be. And cheers to remembering why we are all doing this…and never losing that damn mojo again!