Thursday, June 18, 2009

I had a strange relationship with a small pine tree...

I've kept this pretty quiet until now. I've told a few people about what happened in the forest, but not many. Only now can I start to understand what happened and find a hint of levity.

Trail riding in the forest is a lot like trail running. Yes, running on trails with your feet and legs. Runners find and latch onto "runner's high", a brain state where endorphins are flowing and the runner is relaxed, euphoric, even 'high' and sometimes, 'quite high'. And for me, that runner's high sets in much sooner and is a lot more intense when running on trails. The reason is that you're really focused on picking your line. You totally zone out the surroundings other than the immediate terrain that you're negotiating. And you must pay close attention to your line to prevent twisting your ankle or tripping on a root or rock. It's easy to get lost when you're trail running because you tuned out the surroundings.

The same thing happens on a dirt bike when you're blasting through the woods. It takes a while for this intoxication to set in. You start to sweat, you're exerting energy moving around on the bike (body English) to get it to go where you would like. You're getting a little tired and you start picking up the pace a little. NOW, you're entering the ZONE! You're paying particular attention to the trees, ruts, roots, mud puddles, and sand patches. You're not totally focused on any one element; your brain is processing all of the information about the stuff in front of you and the stuff you just blew past, in your periphery. It's COOL! (this pic is not THE tree, just a pic I swiped off the internet)

So let's get back on topic. I had a strange relationship with ONE small pine tree out of billions. As I approached, it was perfectly in focus. Not an unfocused, slightly blurred tree like all of the others. I saw this tree perfectly. Perfectly focused, perfectly right there on the side of the trail. And I RODE RIGHT INTO IT!! Bwahaha! It nailed the ring finger on my left hand. Beneath my glove, it hurt like hell. After about 5 minutes of riding, I had to stop to peel the glove off. Finger was bleeding and cut pretty well on the outside of the hinge joint (I ain't no anatomy guy!). I'm damn lucky it didn't separate my finger! Lesson learned? Bark Busters!! Don't go into the woods without 'em! I've had these for years but hadn't bothered to bolt them on! Doh! So now the 125 has 'em and I'm going to fabricate a couple more pairs for the 100's.

So I've heard about something related to motorcycle riding that is called Target Fixation. I've always heard about it in a bad light. How could this be? Target fixation must certainly be a good thing, eh?! You know, like super focused, really alert to pulling off what you're trying to do. So after this episode with the pine tree, I googled it. And SURE ENOUGH, it's a BAD thing and something to be avoided! Apparently, if you focus too sharply on something, the brain has a little software glitch that will steer you right into that object. Prior to my relationship with the tree, I would have absolutely called BS on such a ridiculous notion. No way, it'll never happen!

Target Fixation DOES exist and it IS a bad thing! I've done it! Only once. And I mean that tree was in focus! Like no other tree ever before. Strange. Really weird! Here's what Wikipedia says, Target Fixation.

And in other news,I got an invitation from a friend, Glenn (a guy I met while riding in the woods), to visit the legendary Houston motocross track that has been laboriously and meticulously resurrected, Rio Bravo MX Park! Wow! Nice work, guys! They've done a fantastic job putting it back together!

After I took a couple of laps, I came in and said, "WOW, it's an old-fashioned motocross track, just like what tracks looked like in the 70's and 80's!" It's different in that it's a fast track with long sweeping turns and pretty graceful jumps. It just means you've gotta ride super fast to get the effect (like the Gran Prix track at 3 Palms). Not really my cup of tea because the speeds are high (the consequences for making a mistake can be high). But the guys at Rio Bravo have done a GREAT JOB! Hats off!


Adrienne said...

Ouch! Reminds me of a time I hit the same tree a couple times on an ATV back in the day! The front rack is still bent!!

Jamoosh said...

Think of it as "bonding with nature!"