I’ve often thought about the individual aspect of adventure sports.
Since I was very young, my athletic focus has been on sports that involve speed, physics, flow, and respect for natural surroundings. As participants in these sports, there is certainly a team dynamic involved, but ultimately we are accountable only to ourselves for success or failure.
We reap the rewards of these experiences through the places that we get to visit, and the satisfaction that making our way down the river, trail, or slopes gives us. It is extremely personal, and we all gain something different from it.
It is often difficult to bring others into this world. In order to experience those places, you need to put in years and years of practice. As a kayaker for example, the ability to drop into some of the remote class V rivers in the region represents an infinite amount of hours paddling, watching videos, chatting with friends about theories, and learning from mistakes.
I often think about how these passions that we have in individual sports differ from other things that people devote their lives to. When I listen to some of my favorite musicians, I think about the fact that they are living their passion AND sharing it with countless people throughout the world. They are bringing joy into peoples’ lives by just doing what gives them joy. I also thought about this when watching the last winter Olympics. (Disclaimer: I am originally Canadian; no disrespect intended to our American hockey fan readers) Watch the two videos below in order. They represent the pride that explodes simultaneously across an entire country when a team of athletes achieves something great.
This contagious pride and elation is an end that far exceeds personal glory, and I’ve always wondered how this same sharing of joy can occur in the outdoors sports that we love. After all, even if you do achieve your ultimate goal as an individual athlete, you are alone there at the top, rather than celebrating with a team that you have suffered and bonded with. Sometimes I have even gone far enough to think that I am being selfish by devoting so much time to these sensation-motivated individual pursuits.
There are those other times, however, where it all makes perfect sense.
This past weekend, I took my girlfriend, Ashley, for a mountain bike ride in Bent Creek. Ashley is a great athlete, but she isn’t necessarily the adrenaline type. She loves running, playing tennis, and swimming. She wasn’t completely comfortable with what she was being pushed to do, but I rode behind her and gave her friendly pointers as we bombed down Green’s Lick trail. As we descended, her confidence built and in no time she was flying through rock gardens, getting her drift on around some flat corners and feeling the buzz that only these sports can give us.
I could tell when we stopped at the bottom that something had clicked, and her excitement told me that she had tapped into that same thing that keeps us all coming back. Even though this experience was shared on an individual basis and not with thousands of people at once, it occurred to me that through introducing others to the beauty of our sports, we can pass the positive energy on.
Whether you are a runner, climber, biker, kayaker, tri-athlete, surfer, or anything else, share what you love to do with someone who’s never tried it. That look in their eyes will make it all worthwhile.