Facing Down Fear

I sat on my bike, gripped the handlebars, and stared down the trail counting the jumps. One, two, three…and finally thirteen. Notwithstanding the first two easy ones, every jump was challenging but doable—except number six. Arguably the biggest in the park, that jump terrified me. Measuring almost six feet tall and an imposing twenty-eight feet long, number six tossed each bike high in the air seemingly without care if and where it landed. No jump in the Eagle Bike Park launches riders so violently as number six.

Several weeks earlier was my first attempt at jumping number six. I wanted to follow someone down the trail to get a feel for the speed necessary to hit it. Before beginning to pedal, my friend flatly remarked that if I crashed, it would be on me. I could see he didn’t think I was ready. I had cleared number five and rolled into the face of number six so many times, I was sick of not hitting it. Besides, number six was holding me back from completing the rest of the thirteen jumps. I followed my biking bro in and launched. As I exploded off the jump face, I felt a burst of energy rocketing me high into the air. Immediately, I lost sight of the landing and fell helplessly towards terra firma. Instantly hitting the left side of the lander, I tumbled like a rag doll into the dirt and brush.

Six weeks later, I sat at the top of the trail contemplating jumps one through five again, and then number six. I clenched my bar grips but felt no power. My legs softened like butter, stripped of strength. I was paralyzed with fear.  Fear is the thief that steals before your very eyes, robbing you of opportunity, relationships and progression. Fear preys upon you in moments of weakness, self-doubt and uncertainly. Fear bloats itself up large and pompous, gloating proudly of its ability to cause you to freeze in self-paralysis. Fear wants you to smother in darkness—feeling utterly alone and weak.  Fear is also a coward. Fear quickly retreats whenever puny mortals mount resistance to its imposing façade. Fear shrieks in irrational self-pity when being defeated. Fear hates it when we simply lean against it and slowly but surely begin to move forward.

Jim Montgomery is a man of faith but certainly not in the traditional sense. While you won’t find him on the front pew of any church, he does believe in some greater power. Most admirably, he has a simple but firm belief in his own abilities and those of others.   Jim is painfully honest-and I knew it. When I started riding with Jim, he quickly observed that my own fear was the biggest roadblock to my progression. He told me I could successfully clear jump number six by putting aside my fear and having faith in my preparedness and capabilities. I doubted myself but not him. Fear can be replaced with faith. Jim told me to follow him in and he would lead the way. And I did.

Fear is nothing if not persistent. Though I have now successfully cleared number six over a hundred times, I still sense fear creepily reaching up from below to grab my pedals at the start of the trail. As I lean forward and take several determined pedal strokes, I chuckle, glancing to the right, as fear tumbles like a rag doll off the side of the trail….

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