Skip to main content

Spectator Sports

  I’m not good at ball-sports, or really, team-sports all together. In little league I once tried throwing the ball from right field to first base. Instead I threw the ball out of the park and hit a guy sitting in the bleachers. As a high school freshman I tried out for soccer and qualified for the sub-sub-JV team.
  The cross country team needed runners, so I quit soccer after a week and I ran. I ran in the fall, and then I ran again in the spring for track. I wasn’t good, but I could do it. All that really mattered was that I crossed the finish line. Running helped me develop the mental state that I use nowadays when I’m tackling a long climb. I don’t need to enjoy it, I just need to zone out and keep putting one foot, or pedal, in front of the other.
  My state had one professional sports team, a hockey team called the Whalers. But they broke up, or moved on a few years after I moved to Colorado. I love the atmosphere of a Rockies game or watching the Eagles. But I have nothing at stake when I watch, I have no emotional attachment. The thing is, I’ve never really sat and watched a game that I had any interest in...until now.
  My oldest daughter just started playing soccer on the competitive league with St. Vrain Football Club. Holy Cow! These games are intense! Now I finally understand it, I can see why spectators yell, and cheer. I felt the glimmer of hope from a good pass. I felt the pain of a crushing defeat. The highs, the lows, the anxiety and the adrenaline. I felt it all, and I don’t like it.
  A 2017 study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology suggests that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat can have a substantial effect on the cardiovascular system. The study showed that men under 55 have significantly more heart attacks the day after a Montreal Canadiens victoryI could definitely feel this during the game. My heart was pounding, my adrenaline surged, and all I was doing was just sitting on the side watching.

  When I’m mountain biking I experience all these same emotions, and the flood of cortisol, adrenaline and seratonin. The big difference is that I’m moving and I can burn these hormones out of my system as they are produced. Say I’m railing down some singletrack, I look ahead and see that the last rainstorm washed out a big rut. Instantly my body may begin to experience anxiety as I realize I won’t slow down before the rut. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone releases glucose into my bloodstream as the anxiety builds. I start to believe I’m going to crash hard.
  Then, I see a line over the rut. Adrenaline is released from the adrenal gland. It increases my heart rate, elevates my blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. I crouch, and then pull upward on the bike, using all my energy to bunny hop over the rut. I grin wildly having averted disaster. Dopamine rewards my body for preserving itself as I continue down the trail.
  When you’re being physically active these hormones are quickly reabsorbed into your bloodstream. These hormones were originally part of the fight or flight response developed by our cave-dwelling ancestors. If danger popped up they needed these chemical boosters to survive. I think using them in a physically active setting is the proper time and place.
  Unfortunately, I also experienced this chemical onslaught while I was sitting in a camp chair watching ten-year-olds play soccer. In this situation the chemicals did not quickly dissipate. They just simmered in a stew of conflicting emotions. I guess like any chemical in the body, long term users develop a tolerance. My sister-in-law is a true Broncos fan. She understands that if she doesn't wear her jersey on game day the team won't play at their full potential. If the team settles into a losing streak, this starts to affect her daily outlook on life. These concepts are foreign to me, but I feel like I'm starting to get a glimpse into this world.
  I think it's best if I play it safe, and every weekend she has soccer games, I'll be sure to get out for a ride afterward.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

John Biro and the Dirt Bike (Not Bike Related)

  I knew John Biro. I was lucky to meet him early in my short time in that part of the mountains. At his service lots of people told great stories about him. Lots of people knew him better and new him longer. My Biro story is just a tiny scrap in the mountain of stories that could be told about him. But I want to tell it anyway, because I feel like one day his boys might be looking for new stories, little stories, everyday stories, about  their dad. I don’t want to tell a story about myself, I want to tell a story about Biro, but I just happen to be in it.   I first met Biro on his birthday in 1998. Shane and Marvelous Marvin led me up to his cabin. I had been sledding up Kebler before, and into Robinson basin. But I had always skirted around the townsite. The town site was forbidden, unless you had a reason to be there. I was excited to finally enter this mysterious place where smoke trickled from the chimney's of odd little cabins covered in snow. I stayed all day at the party a

LHC True Crime

   It was naive of me to think I could just sit down and throw together a post about murders in Left Hand Canyon. I'm not into true crime shows or podcasts. I don't know how those writers do it. With each new detail I read, the stories just became more sad and bleak. I felt like a ghoul as I uncovered each new tale of a life lost.   So why even bother? Shouldn't things in the past just stay in the past? The blood on the trail has long since faded into the dirt under our tires. When we go out in those woods on our mountain bikes we experience pure joy and happiness.  Should that be tainted by the notion that on the very same spot, some people experienced the brutal last moments of their lives?   I don't have any of these answers. But I started to feel that if we are going to dance on graves we should at least be aware that the graves are there. Ok, maybe not graves, but at least crime scenes. I'm not going to get into the details of each crime, you can click the l

Wheelie Masters and the Journey

  Last year, riding up the road from the parking lot to the trailhead, reminded me that I absolutely sucked at a riding wheelies. After decades on a bike,I could hold the front wheel up for 10 ft at most. Even back when freeride started several of my friends learned to manual, I still had nothin'.   Then a year ago, my friend Zane started making FB posts, declaring that he was going to learn manuals, by practicing 30-40 minutes a day, every day. By the end of the summer he posted an amazing video of an endless manual down a hill. This gnawed at the back of my mind, he's over 40, I'm over 40. Maybe it is possible. Maybe wheelie skills aren't something that only the gifted are born with.   So around Christmas I started messing around popping wheelies in front of my house. I wanted to follow Zane's technique of solid repetition. I've read Malcolm Gladwell, I believed in the 10,000 hour rule.   So I tried on my own in the culdesac and got nowhere. Then I watche