Challenge, the most fun part of life?

Isn’t it funny how we often seek the easiest path even when we know the tougher path will be more fun and more rewarding? If we look back at our life the easy victories are not the moments we remember and cherish it is then moments when we were challenged that stand out. After failing at climbing the “widow maker” in Grand Junction at least five times and walking it each time over two years it is the time I finally climbed it that I can remember like it was yesterday. Lets face it, anyone in reasonable shape can walk their bike off a tough climb but riding it is much more rewarding! So go out and challenge yourself on your next ride. Go 10 feet further on the widow maker climb, shave 2% off your fastest lap time on your favorite loop, clean that step up maneuver that keeps intimidating you, ride 4 mile or 30 minutes longer than you ever have, push yourself a little harder. You will thank yourself and feel better after meeting a challenge head on and conquering it.

I returned to Bromont, Quebec for the first time since 2002 for a race last weekend and nearly chickened out! The course was steep, rocky, with a fair amount of rocks, fun to ride and little scary to go race pace on. Then it rained! The steep sections were now an inch deep in mud and I was scared, “will I be able to make the steep turns in this muck? Will I be able to slow down? I am getting older, I don’t have anything to prove, maybe I should just take this weekend off…” was running in my head. I had to stop for a fallen rider in my first practice run in the mud and was scared to restart with muddy tires on the steep off camber rocks so I went a round. Well, that didn’t help my confidence, so despite being soaked and cold I took a second practice run and made it down slower than when it was dry but I made it down clean! Well by the time my race run rolled around 3.5 hours later the course had been torn up by over 150 riders and when I hit the steep section it looked really ugly and fear hit me again but the enthusiastic fans (I love racing in Quebec, quite a few fans braved the rain and mud and had hiked up to the toughest sections of the course) urged me on and I dropped in and railed the steep, muddy and off-camber section! Wow, that felt good! I haven’t been that scared of a downhill course in years and it felt great to look fear in the eye and go for it again! I am not recommending you do something over your head (which even if you make it you will just feel lucky) but go out and challenge yourself.

3 replies
  1. Kassey Hallak
    Kassey Hallak says:

    Hello Gene,

    Thank you so much for the articles, as they are not only a good help but a good source of inspiration too.

    I ain’t a spring chicken, I am 48 years old and and I do most of my biking on the roads as where I live somewhere on the other part of the planet, all mountains and extreme up/down hills,, but the the problem that off the road there are plenty of land mines and cluster bombs, so it is wise to stick to hard surfaces..
    and some day, soon I hope, I would love to join one of your camps to learn more skills, as I only know the basics ( I do travle to the states frequently)..
    Keep those articles coming and many thinks for the whole team at betteride…

  2. Sharon Strickland
    Sharon Strickland says:


    The way you express the mind games going through your head during your race is exactly what taunts me when I ride over difficult sections. I have read a lot of your blog and other people’s responses to you and I am really impressed. You are an inspiration!

    I CANNOT WAIT until I have the opportunity to take your MTB skills camp. If there was a way to get you here in Afghanistan I would have you here in a heart beat! Or if I could get you to fly to a country that is not too far for me to go visit. Maybe I can form a group to start a private clinic, so we can share the cost ….

    As Kassey stated above, I am in a place where there are mines everywhere, so there is no chance of REAL mountain biking. I AM OBSESSED!!! Reading your blogs, watching videos, leafing through magazines, dreaming of mountain biking for the last 4 nights (after my NZ 14 day mtn biking trip). I NEED mountain biking for my sanity!

    I look forward to the day when I can jump on my bike whenever I feel like it and ride fun, flowy singletrack. Feel the sun on my face as I whip in and out of corners of my favorite trail.

    Look forward to meeting you! I am going to write down my goals and go from there. I might not be able to ride like I need to but I can work on the mental preparation and visualization of being AWESOME!

    Thank you for your insight and encouragement!


    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Hi Sharon,

      I just found your comment this morning. Thanks for the praise, I love what I do (and feel quite fortunate to be doing it!). You are welcome for the insight and encouragement. I am looking forward to coaching you.

      Create a great spring,



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