Look where you’re going, even if you may crash

We hear a lot of motivational phrases about staying focussed on our goals or vision. It’s the secret right? If you keep your mind pointing in that direction, that’s the direction you’ll go right? It’s all going to end up being perfect right? Maybe, but you’ll still have bumps along the way.

I grew up as a ski racer. I loved nothing more than carving down the hard fast snow through those red and blue gates. It was crucial to keep my eyes 1-2 gates ahead at all times so I could keep the fastest line down the course. You go where you’re looking. If you don’t come into a turn right, you lose precious time or worse, you miss a gate and get disqualified.  

While I still love to ski, I let my kids do the racing these days. I spend more time on my bike. I put in thousands of miles on my road bike every year. I love climbing winding mountain roads. What goes up must come down. Maybe it was my background in ski racing, but I love to go fast. Cornering around a hairpin turn at high speed is dangerous business. I’ve learned quickly that my eyes need to be looking far ahead of me in each turn. My bike goes where I’m looking. If I look down in front of my wheel, I could end up off the side of the road (trust me, it’s happened before).

In ski racing and cycling, the principle is fundamentally true that you must look ahead to be successful. Failure to do so can be very dangerous, trust me. But even if we are looking ahead we can still crash. Does that mean we shouldn’t get in the course, to begin with? 

Recently I was descending a mountain road on my road bike. I entered a tight hairpin turn with a bit too much speed. Even though I was looking ahead and my bike wanted to go where I was looking, other forces were stronger (centrifugal force to be precise). My speed was too high. My tires slid out from under me. I slid 30-40 feet on my side across the pavement coming to a stop in the gravel. My lycra cycling gear was no match for the asphalt. It was shredded, as was my skin. Lots of road rash, cracked helmet, cracked bike frame, and a dose of humility, as well as gratitude that it wasn’t worse. Luckily such wounds heal and I’m back in the saddle, although a bit more timid on the downhill. 

Sometimes in life we have our eyes aimed in the right direction. Looking ahead at a grand meaningful goal or vision and we’re headed that way. Sometimes we still crash. Don’t let it stop you. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep looking where you want to end up. Your metaphorical bike will follow and you’ll be stronger because of it. Life can be wonderful, life can be meaningful, life can be hard. Look where you’re going, even if you may crash. 


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