Professional MTB rider, trail builder and podcaster, Matt McDuff talks of resistance, from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, essentially the barriers we place in front of ourselves to avoid doing the work we know we should be doing, or those blocks that stop us achieving our potential and beating as he calls them the 'inner creative battles'. As a self confessed world class procrastinator I am well versed in putting things off, but this being the mundane chores, like banking, paying a bill, student loans, or booking an MOT before my vehicle becomes Illegal, fixing a surfboard before it is water logged, or building a bigger bike shed, this is where I could win medals in resistance.
But in the case of Trail Head, a book project that I hope will truly make a difference, and one that might shine a light on those who are looking for a few answers to their struggle to find positivity, or require a push in the right direction towards well being. Putting pen to paper last year (2020) during lockdown I was struck with the idea of setting off on a personal journey, (but not travelling far due to Covid restrictions) to better understand mental well being through mountain biking; and that journeys has not stopped, in fact the areas I wanted to ask others about I have experienced myself at a level far beyond what I'd expected.
As we near the end of 2021, the book is not finished, it's far from it, and the journey continues. Everytime I ride, each session on the hill with friends, the coaching I've received and more planned, the goals I have set and achieved, each enduro entered this year, (which I might add I'm slightly addicted too), the stretching and training that have entered my lifestyle, the injuries, the bike park trips, the events I've been too, people I've met and interviewed, the skills and progression that this 52 years old Chunky Brother has developed and experience over the past year are all fuel for the book. The journey is well under way, and the areas that I intended to write about have become the diary, a record of what has gone well or not.
The picture above was taken at the Southern Enduro Championships, a race I'm still reflecting upon. I've written about his journey to enduro on this blog in the past, but this was the big one, the event that I wanted to enter in 2020, and a race I’d heard so much about. Mentally this event was a huge challenge and one that would test whether I would really be able to ride at my best for two days and push my physical stamina to the limit, but one to really enjoy and savour every moment possible. The weekend turned out to be everything I expected and more, and this really became apparent on day two, when I realised as I crossed the finish line after 13 stages this was a huge learning and growth curve in my own positive mindest. By day two, I rode faster and smoother, and was so pleased with myself, I was knackered, exhausted, smiling and properly stoked.
After thirteen stages, 4500ft of climbing (walking) and 30 plus minutes of descending on exceptional trails, the weekend was only made better by great company, friendships made, hilarious banter, super friendly marshalls, and superb organisation all centered at a beautiful location in North Devon, so what’s not to love about this enduro thing. As a side note I finished a respectable 16th out of 40 entries in the Grand Veterans (over 50's), and in my last enduro at Grogley woods In Cornwall, I finsihed third
In 2021 I have completed four enduro events, in 2022 I hope to compete in more, there will be more riding and progression. So far the Trail Head Project has been a process of nerves, limiting beliefs, anxiety, small steps and a changing mindset. The enjoyable nature of this journey and the experiences of each event, ride or conversation that I continue to write about helps me believe that eventually this exciting personal journey will make a difference to others too. It's just taking a little time, but I'm Ok with that. As 2022 approaches I'm so excited, and in the meantime we have a winter training and fun programme to get through, the lights are charged and the trails are still there at night.
If you like to find out a little more, or would like to support this project as we enter 2022, then please take a look at the page above or drop me a line on email@example.com
I'd really like to thank the boys at Upgrade Bikes and DMR for their endless support, Clif Bar for an early care package of energy products that got me through those enduros, Hayle Cycles for keeping me rolling and Davi at HKT Podcast for giving me an opportunity to chat about this project on his amazing podcast.