Swicked: just flick the switch

James Durand explores letting stress go

By James Durand

About six weeks ago I was in Whistler riding with some friends.

I was excited about the trip, but also very tired from a tough summer of bike shop life. Chenoa and I had just moved houses and the stress that comes with that was definitely weighing heavily on my shoulders.

On the first day of riding, we headed for one of my favourite trails, one I have ridden many times. On this day I was hanging on too tight, thinking too much, and frustrated with my lack of confidence. I ended up walking a few section that are normally within my pay grade. I just felt off and was thinking more about consequences, than success.

The rest of the trip was good, but not great. The stress won out and I didn’t quite find my mojo on any of the trails. I came home frustrated.

Chenoa and I headed back to Whistler last week. Most of the stress from summer is still weighing me down, but I somehow managed to leave it at work. Chenoa and I are still nowhere near settled in our house, but our bikes and gear are organized, so it’s good enough for now. (I can sort out the rest this winter)

On day one, I rode a trail that’s been on my bucket list for a few years, Dark Crystal. It is a Whistler black diamond and having never ridden it before, I thought I would be tentative.

Nope, I rode in blind and hit everything like this was my back yard. Never a negative thought, and never a lack of confidence. No white knuckles and no puckering, just rolling along and relying on instinct.

A couple of days later I met up with local buddy who showed me one of Whistler’s newest trails. It’s not even on the maps yet. Good to have friends right?

It was a steep technical climb that had me exhausted when we arrived at the trailhead for the downhill. Never a good sign when you’re at the top of a new trail and you’re keeled over sucking wind, trying not to have a heart attack.

A couple of minutes later as we were about to drop into a blind rock roll that disappeared into the trees, I somehow forgot about life, stress, and the nasty climb we just endured, and I rolled in behind Chris. I figured if he can ride it then so can I. And just like that, I was back to instinct.

On the last day I stepped it up a notch and hit a double black diamond I’ve been keen to tackle. This one is above my pay grade on a good day, but after a great week of confidence inspiring riding, I jumped into the deep end head first.

So, does riding to your potential come down to mind control, confidence, or just luck?

After all these years I still haven’t figured out to flick the switch. I know deep down I can ride, but some days it just doesn’t happen, other days I feel invincible.

In reality, nothing much had changed in my life from one trip to the next. I just decided to let it roll and not think so much. Then my stress levels went down … and my riding improved. Hmm?

I’m James Durand, and I’m Goin’ Ridin’

MORE FROM JAMES: Learning from our mistakes

Just let it happen

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