What mountain biking in Moab reminded me about going too slow

I don’t have a medium setting. 

My mind needs to be fully engaged or it shuts down. It’s either fast or stopped. I’m not sure why, and I don’t know if it’s normal. Maybe a doctor or psychologist can tell me. 

I didn’t realize this until I went to university after high school. In high school I seemed to always be tired. I felt like I was dragging while sitting through class all day. 

At university I felt much more energetic, and I soon realized why. I only spent two or three hours in class, and then I had the rest of the day to study on my own. I studied at my own pace and in a way that engaged my mind the most. I didn’t have to sit idly and listen to lectures all day. 

I was reminded of this trait a few weeks ago while mountain biking in Moab. 

I had a blast riding some amazing trails. My favorite was the The Whole Enchilada. We were shuttled up to 11,200 feet and then rode down 7000 vertical feet over 28 miles of trails. It was awesome!

This was my first time riding Moab terrain, and I wasn’t used to the slick rock. My shoes were clipped into the pedals, and I tipped over several times when I lost my balance and couldn’t get my shoes out fast enough. 

I probably even have a permanent reminder of my mishaps. One fall was right next to a friend who was standing by the trail holding his bike. I reflexively reached out in an attempt to catch myself, and I hit just above my elbow on his red-hot brake rotor. It filleted my flesh about three inches wide and a half inch deep. No one had thought to bring a first aid kit, so someone in our group literally gave me an extra old shirt off his back to tear into a makeshift bandage. It’s going to leave a nice scar. 

Anyway, about halfway through the ride I finally realized why I was having trouble. I was timid in some parts of the unfamiliar terrain, and I only fell while going too slow! I was fine while going fast. 

It reminds me of Mario Andretti’s quote: “If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.”

When I’ve been extra busy I think it would feel good to slow down and not work so hard. But for some reason slowing down is never as satisfying as I think it will be. 

Yes, I know it’s important to unwind and rest. That’s the stop setting, and I’m fine with that. There’s just no medium setting in between. I need to go all out or not do it at all. Half-hearted doesn’t work. 

We need constant progression in all areas of our lives. If we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy. If we don’t practice skills like sports or musical instruments, we lose those skills.  

If you’re anything like me, embrace your fast setting. Give it your all when you’re moving, and completely stop when it’s time to stop. Don’t coast along in the medium setting or you’ll never be satisfied (cue the Hamilton soundtrack). 

Question: How do you manage your speed settings?