The Two Hemispheres

For most things in life, I seem to operate within 2 distinct opposite hemispheres of thought. For example, I’m an agnostic, so I swing easily from religion and atheism as designs for life; I am generally surrounded by clutter, yet I am obsessed by minimalist design; with regards to mountain bikes, I love simple single pivot suspension, yet I am also a great admirer of Karl-Heinz Nicolai’s uber-technical feats of engineering.

For most things in life, I seem to operate within 2 distinct opposite hemispheres of thought.  For example, I’m an agnostic, so I swing easily from religion and atheism as designs for life; I am generally surrounded by clutter, yet I am obsessed by minimalist design; with regards to mountain bikes, I love simple single pivot suspension, yet I am also a great admirer of Karl-Heinz Nicolai’s uber-technical feats of engineering.     

A few weeks ago I experienced a classic example of these 2 opposite hemispheres of thought working perfectly at the same time. My friends and I wanted to race each other all over the Afan valley man made trails and their local Bristol woods singletrack during a weekend spent catching up down in the South West.  After the previous few weeks of build up banter ranging from my ‘northern hills are bigger than yours, so take me to your biggest mountain’ to their ‘our hills maybe smaller, but we’re singletrack demons,’ we were ready to prove who was the quickest, more skillful, and flashier than the others.  Unfortunately for me they were not only quicker on the flats and downs, but on the ups as well!

Gentle ribbing of course took place, but they were most perplexed when I calmly said, "This is fun, guys, not a race, this is you and me chilling out, spending our first riding time together for 3 years!"  Sure, said my first hemisphere thought process, there's a place for racing your mates, but the only person I really race against is me.  I don't have to ride on the edge, getting no handed, big air whooping, all around a singletrack loop to feel like I’ve achieved something.  If I clear a section of trail that I've never cleared before without dabbing, then that's an achievement for me... whether my mates clear it without dabbing every single ride is of no concern to me really.  

 But my second hemisphere thought process was gently nagging me all that weekend, with accompanying theme music from Rocky 3 and the A Team going in perpetual loops around my head.   I even stopped at the Motorway services on the way home, not once but 3 times, in search of ‘Classic Action Movie Soundtracks Volume 10’ or ‘TV and Film Theme Tune Heaven 24’ And their ilk, the second hemisphere thought process now in complete ascendance. 

Back home, stood at the dining room table, I drew up ream after ream of fitness regimes and skills training plans well into the night.  There was one single thought guiding it all - ‘Right guys, you want to see how fast I really am?’

Which brings me nicely right up to the present.  I’m about to start relearning my bike handling skills almost from scratch (I won’t be quite donning stabilizers, but you know what I mean!), putting theory into the ultimate practice.  I’ll be unlearning the bad techniques I’ve fallen into and developing better ones. 

I’ll be practicing out in the Leeds woods (remove those images of me with a crossbow and bandana, please!) with the local Crosstrax lot.  These guys rush through the trees like the wind, ascending and descending at a breathtaking pace.  Thankfully, they’re willing to impart their superhero skills to me. 

I’ll emerge in a few months time from my secret training camp to gladly take on the challenge of racing the Bristol lot and wanting to beat them! And, when I do beat them, both of my hemisphere thought processes will join in momentary complete unison, as I calmly say - “Don’t worry about being beaten guys, this is not a race, this is you and me chilling out, spending our first riding time together for a few months!" 

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