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As a kid I used to love anything extreme. Skateboarding, rock-climbing, motocross, bodyboarding, BMX... You get the idea. We used to spend as much time as possible outside doing things that would push us. Wheelies off walls that were half our size was a norm. Building sketchy jumps for our motocross bikes was an everyday experience. I had a great childhood.
Over the years, I lost touch with much of this. I played tennis for a while and then even stopped with the more typical sports. I went to college and then to university and put a lot of effort into my studies. In my spare time I worked and occasionally managed to get in the sea with the board. Then I graduated and got a full time job and even that stopped.
I became wholly consumed by my job. I got up in a morning and went to work. When I got home I worked in my own time. I went to bed and dreamt of work. Then I did it all over again. I could feel that I'd lost my drive for adventure and that I was becoming something I'd always said I wouldn't, but I didn't have an escape. From time to time I'd get the walking boots on and disappear into the countryside but it'd soon be time to get back to work.
This was the way for two years of my life. Then, in the winter of 2015, I made a conscious decision that something needed to change. I needed to get back to finding enjoyment in life and do something other than work. I walked into the local bike shop and left with a Specialized Camber. I wasn't really sure what I was buying, but I had done just about enough research to know that this was a decent enough bike for what I needed.
Over the following weeks I forced myself to leave my work behind for one day each week and go ride some trails. I won't lie, it wasn't easy to put work to one side, and each time I left for the trails I felt guilty that I'd 'skipped work'... even when it was my weekend! But I forced myself to go all the same.
It didn't take long. The way that biking makes your mind almost turn off and focus at the same time gave me the escape that I so desperately sought. When I'm riding I find that I think of nothing else. Just the bike and me. The trail. Peace.
After a couple of months, I'd got the bug. Each week I was getting to Friday night and packing my kit to go ride the following day. It had become a necessity. A healthy need to escape the pressures of working and put some power down on the dirt. It meant that I was sleeping better, especially over the weekend, and that meant my performance at work was better. Biking meant that I had time to stop, recharge and then hit work at full force for another week. But, better than that, mountain biking gave me a piece of my childhood back. It brought back so many happy memories of times now gone. Without it, I'm not sure I'd still be working the job I've got. In fact, I'm quite sure that I'd have had some sort of internal battle and let all drive disappear.
Getting on that bike was one of the best decisions I've made in a very long time and I won't be stopping any time soon. And I'm more hungry than ever to adventure and enjoy life.