And a snake fell on me from out of a tree.
This is not the title I was expecting to put on this blog post.
I use mountain-biking as a cross-train for running and this morning I was out on a local trail testing my willpower and wits. I'm really quite poor at riding. I do it because rocks, ruts, twisted roots, drops and branches strike fear into my heart and every time I head out of my front gate I know I am undergoing a major lesson in controlling my mindset.
Whenever my brain senses a threat, of the type riding induces, it's first response is to rev-up the rapid chatter in my head. Suddenly past conversations are being re-imagined or shopping lists constructed, there may have also been some early drafts of this post being written. This mind-chatter is a diversionary tactic thrown into the mix by my subconscious brain as a way of trying to remove the threat that it has sensed. It hopes by diverting my attention I will go do something else or stop. Lets face it, in the past this tactic worked a treat but not now.
Focus is vital to achieving epic goals. It is a discipline which requires work to build. When I head out on gnarly (to me) trails I have to work hard to stop the mental chatter and focus on the moment at hand. Sometimes I succeed, many times I fail but I never fail to keep working at it.
This morning's ride was no different. There is a loop of track through the forest where my goal is it ride the complete distance without putting my feet down. This morning I nailed some sections but completely lost it through a piece where the ruts were deep, steep and narrow. Bugger! I cursed to myself. I jumped back on and tried again but my frazzled nerves were frazzling more. "Sugar, damn, opps, sugar, grrr, bugger" reverberated from the tree trunks surrounding me.
Just as I was at my wits-end the trail opened and decided to be kinder to me. It was a postcard-perfect morning in this part of the forest. The sun was filtering down through the canopy, birds were filling the air with their song, and my mind drifted to a mix of self-congratulations and worship of the beautiful surrounds.
And then a snake fell on me from out of a tree.
Never has nature delivered a message of focus so profoundly. All I saw was a black blur coming down from the sky, I felt something brush past my hand and heard the soft thud as it hit the ground. There at my feet was a snake looking rather stunned, the perfect mirror-image of my own feelings in that moment. My bike dropped as my reflexes catapulted me away from my spectator. No doubt this little critter had been sunning itself on the branch above and raised its head to watch the calamity come down the trail. In a sleepy stupor, it had stretched too far and gone for a big stack. Seems like we were both having similar mornings.
Neither of us knew what to do next. There was a moment of Mexican stand-off when we both just looked at each other. Then my snake friend bid his adieus and headed for cover.
[Note: I think it is a Stephens Banded Snake if anyone has further information I'd love to hear.]