By John Basher
People, by their very nature, have a tendency to over-ana-lyze things. It’s what we do. While there are those among us
who thrive on the travails of humanity (I’m talking to you, Dr.
Drew), I’m here to tell you not to worry. I don’t have a
doctorate degree, but I more than make up for the lack of
education with old-fashioned, real-world experience. I have
been there and done that, all the while spending life in a
constant state of uneasiness. Yet I, like Bill Murray in What
About Bob?, am taking baby steps toward resolution. So,
please, don’t worry yourself to death. Of course such general
advice from a nincompoop will probably fall on deaf ears. The
impact of my musings will likely be the equivalent of telling a
hypochondriac that he’s not sick, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
It is foolish to always wonder, “What if?” To live in fear is to
imprison yourself—to overlook happiness and potential and
all things amazing because you believe that something will
inevitably go wrong. And fear, like doubt and regret, is the
poison that destroys happiness. Dale Carnegie, the famous
writer and lecturer, once quipped, “Remember, today is the
tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” Is today really so
bad? Despite trepidation about how some grave misfortune
might befall you, things are usually all right in the end.
“MY PITFALL IS THAT I THINK TOO
MUCH WHEN I RIDE. I BLAME
AN OVERACTIVE NOGGIN FOR
DWELLING ON THE CONSEQUENCES
OF POOR DECISIONS.”
Although I preach good advice, I hardly practice it. I have
simply done a masterful job of hiding my inner struggles from
the casual observer. It’s only when I throw a leg over a
motocross bike that fear takes on an ugly form. My pitfall
is that I think too much when I ride. I blame an overactive
noggin for dwelling on the consequences of poor decisions.
Scrapes and scars serve as a reminder of past motocross
transgressions—reminders I always see while gearing up to
go ride. My creaky knees and botched lower back send a
red alert to my frontal lobe. That message? My brain wrote
checks that my body couldn’t cash.
It’s amazing how professional racers are able to rebound
from a devastating injury. Success doesn’t come easily for
them. Broken bones are the road blocks that can stymie the
best. Yet champions forge ahead and win. Not surprisingly,
most Pros admit that the fear of injury is one of the major
contributing factors in their decision to retire. Who can
blame them? The mind is a gift and a curse.
Even on my best day racing I was never close to logging
fast laps. Lining up to the gate at Anaheim 1 wasn’t in the
cards for me. I never had illusions about winning championships. From a very young age I realized that a career in
front of a computer was more realistic than life behind the
handlebars. Writing has always been more enjoyable to me.
Oh yeah, there also was that issue of getting my wheels off
Jumping has always scared me. I’m not ashamed to admit
it, because caution kept me out of the emergency room more
often than not. Most kids love to fly through the air on a
motorcycle. Me? I was deathly afraid of getting both wheels
off the ground for any length of time. Back in the 80cc days
of my ho-hum racing career, the competition soared over my
head while I rolled the doubles. Goodbye wins. Goodbye
sponsorship deals. Goodbye million-dollar contracts. Hello
All of these years later one would surmise that I overcame
the mental road block—that eventually the jumps would
appear smaller in my conservative mind. Nope. I still think too
much about every lunar leap. That’s not to say that I don’t
jump. Far from it. I have launched a motorcycle over
hundred-foot jumps and floated several stories above the
ground. Guess what? I was scared to death every second
that my tires weren’t making contact with the dirt. My body
didn’t hide that fact. Some would say that my style over jumps
is a spitting image of Robbie Knievel (minus the garish
one-piece star-emblazoned suit).
Just last weekend I was reminded how much of a
worrywart I am. While getting dressed in my gear I watched
in awe as riders flew through the air with ease. That’s when
I noticed the big double in the middle of the track. It looked
nasty. The landing was short and steep, with a face that
resembled LaRocco’s Leap. My mind raced as I watched
some poor sap come up short, smack his face against the
handlebars, and get carted off the track by the medics.
I sheepishly took to the track, rolling every obstacle like a
125 Beginner. After a few laps I started to find my speed.
Things were clicking, except for the pesky finish-line double.
Rolling that jump every lap was a constant reminder of my
cowardice—two minutes of elation around an awesome track
muted by a few seconds of trepidation. I was a wimp, gutless;
a yellow-bellied hack who didn’t deserve to ride motocross.
Self-doubt consumed me.
I knew that I would have to summon the courage to hit
the jump. Otherwise my day would be ruined. My brain was
overloaded with horrible scenarios while I worked up the
courage to shift gears and hold the throttle on. I rolled the
big double one final time before pledging to make the leap.
Just then I looked up and saw a kid on a mini cycle shoot
over my head. He cleared the landing perfectly, leg out and
railed the next corner. Never had I felt more like a wimp.
to help any
is a crux
but few rise
want to be
that I can
be. As for
the following lap and
landed without peril.
After that I