The Berg and Bush has just celebrated its 10th year as an MTB event and is truly one of the most thoughtfully organised and best MTB races on the South African calendar, with farmer Gary Green and his family working every year to make an impeccable event better and better. For one who does no other MTB racing whatsoever, this was my 6th Berg and Bush, a testimony to the regard in which I hold the race.
However, the point of my story is something different. It occurred to me over the weekend - in fact as I rode down the 13km breath-taking descent from Spioenkop - why it is that I so love riding my MTB.
There is always an element of the risk of falling off a MTB, which I guess is why adrenalin seeking thrill-seekers with partially reduced frontal lobes can scream downhill with no regard for personal safety. That's not me: although I enjoy the excitement of doing something a bit risky, I still prefer not to push the envelope beyond my comfort zone. I'm more of descender intent on self-preservation.
Whichever way you do it, however, one thing is for sure. If you are not 100% focussed in each moment on where your front wheel is going next, inevitably you will find yourself making involuntary contact with mother Earth. And for so long as you are focussed on your path, there is simply no room for extraneous thoughts and distractions.
Isn't that more or less what Buddhist (and other) meditation is about? Staying present and focussed in the moment, following your path (preferably a path of righteousness), avoiding obstacles, completely engaging with your surroundings and feeling joyful about what you are doing?
Sure, MTB has some tough elements about it. Gasping for air up Spioenkop was a good example. We don't necessarily enjoy the challenges that Life delivers us at the time when we are going through them, but if we are able to transcend them successfully and allow them to lead us to the next step in our lives, then there is a gratitude we can feel for those challenges.
You don't have to have a MTB to feel joy and gratitude, but it sure helps.