Australian Mountain Bike - - X Factor - WORDS: ANNA BECK PHOTO: MATT STAGGS

one way we tend to de­ter­mine our hap­pi­ness. Think you have the mother-of-all-shit su­per-hot bike? You know, that ul­ti­mate dream bike you saved up your tax re­funds three years in a row to af­ford; it’s car­bon, has some sick mid-level forks on it and an awe­some driv­e­train, let’s say mid to top of the range. Some­one rocks up to your weekly trun­dle with a brand new bou­tique rig with elec­trick­ery all over it: top of the line sus­pen­sion and the light­est and stiffest wheels ever. Sure, we still reckon our bike is pretty rad but sud­denly it’s lost value in the pres­ence of some­thing bet­ter. We have de­val­ued our own ex­pe­ri­ence by com­par­i­son. It’s not just things, the joy-thief of com­par­i­son can in­volve peo­ple, too. In a sport­ing sit­u­a­tion the pres­ence of com­par­i­son can strive us to be bet­ter than we are; we can aim higher to get fit­ter, faster, shredlier. How­ever, this, too is risky, as we set our­selves up for fail­ure when we achieve these great things and are still the same per­son on the in­side (if ex­pect­ing change), or are un­able to at­tain the de­sired level of skill or fit­ness. It can per­tain to any part of bike rid­ing; climb­ing, de­scend­ing, wheel­ies, even physique and build are not ex­empt from com­par­i­son (and per­haps are the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ples of it, be­ing our phys­i­cal pres­ence). It takes an hon­est, ra­tio­nal per­son to be able to think about our un­con­scious bias and ad­mit when we are un­duly com­par­ing our­selves to oth­ers, and to re­alise the dam­age it can do to our own self es­teem and so­cial net­works. It takes a lot of in­sight to be able to call out our com­par­i­son out and see if it’s be­ing used for good or evil. So next time the com­par­i­son comes out—per­haps the green eyed mon­ster is rar­ing its ugly head—try to re­mem­ber two things: 1. How lucky we are to have the time and funds to be able to en­joy bike re­lated leisure time, out in the bush! You’re read­ing a mag­a­zine which means you have enough dis­pos­able in­come to fund leisure items like print me­dia. 2. We may not have the best bike, the best physique, the best VO2 max or the rad­dest skills, but gee whiz we are for­tu­nate enough to know there are peo­ple suf­fer­ing out there with can­tilever brakes, un­fit and huff­ing away on their first ride, with the worst ge­netic makeup for sport, and who can’t ride around a cor­ner with­out lay­ing it down. Com­par­i­son in life is in­evitable, but feel­ing bad be­cause of dif­fer­ence can be avoided with some care­ful thoughts and tac­tics!

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