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The other day when I was riding from Silverthorne over to Leadville on trails I was thinking a little about why I felt a little out of sorts.  I decided that I was apprehensive about doing the ride alone.  I knew I was riding on trails, that after I got pretty far up, like above 12000 feet, that I most likely wouldn’t see anyone.

It bothered me that it bothered me.  The trails were pretty technical and there was a chance that I could fall, or have a mechanical, and be in trouble. Cell phone didn’t work, so that wouldn’t have been an option.

I do a ton of stuff on my own.  Sort of dangerous stuff that I feel that I’m competent and responsible enough to complete.  But shit happens.

About half way through the ride, I heard a loud noise, like metal hitting a rock and knew instantly that something fell out of my tire bag behind my seat.  I stopped and the bag was open, missing two quick-fils, plus my multi-tool.  I found one of the CO2 cartridges, that was the noise on the rock.  But no multi-tool.

I hadn’t used that tool on a ride since I had been riding in Colorado, probably close to 30 hours. But for some weird reason, I couldn’t stop worrying that I was going to be left stranded because I didn’t have an allen key or spoke wrench to fix something.

Like I said above, I was bothered again.  It stayed in the back of my mind until I got down to a road and into cell range.

Why worry about something out of your control?  I used to not.  It must be an aging deal.  I’ve noticed that older people tend to worry about more things than younger folks.  That is pretty well documented.  I just never put myself in that category.  I might have to rethink it some.

I’m not sure you can intellectually override worry.  Worry is an emotional response.  Intellect, many or most of the time, doesn’t do much to alleviate emotional responses.

I do know I have no desire living my life worrying about bad possible outcomes.  Especially when it comes to riding my bike.  There are too many variables to try to control all of the situations that arise while out riding.  Worrying about the ones out of my control would make the experience much less enjoyable.

This little guy was on the Colorado Trail up near Kokomo Pass.  I had been told to look out for him.  He must be famous.  I bet he just hangs out, like a gate keeper, waiting for the next person to pass, toll being food.

This little guy was on the Colorado Trail up near Kokomo Pass. I had been told to look out for him. He must be famous. I bet he just hangs out, like a gate keeper, waiting for the next person to pass, toll being food.

Trudi and Tucker waiting at the Leadville finish.

Trudi and Tucker waiting at the Leadville finish.

This was outside of Leadville.  I was calling Tucker, who was running around here.  Notice the bear head on the top of the shack.  When I saw that, I started worrying that both Tucker and I were in the wrong place.

This was outside of Leadville. I was calling Tucker, who was running around here. Notice the bear head on the top of the cabin. When I saw that, I started worrying that both Tucker and I were in the wrong place.



21 thoughts on “Worrying

  1. Russell

    I think worry comes from a lack of certainty. “To enjoy freedom we must control ourselves.”

  2. Chuck Procner

    There is a difference between being cautious and worrying in general. Worry for most of us comes from experience which comes from moving through life (age comes into it from piling up experience). Experience leads to worry which makes us cautious. You were right to worry about the loss of your tool and the other niggling concerns because experience shows that something MIGHT happen. Caution would dictate that you take somewhat more care in getting back home than you normally would. You just started thinking about things. If you were not worried at all you wouldn’t bother with a seat bag, phone, etc. in the first place. Strangely enough, the theme of the caption under your last picture is worry about bears.

  3. barb

    As a single woman, I go through that worrying thing on the road and especially on the trail, as it seems I’m always relegated to riding alone. Not so much about having a mechanical and no help (because I carry tools etc),but more that I worry about being anywhere out in the middle of nowhere by myself on a bike due to either human predators on the road or bears or mountain lions on the trail. I try to have a contingency plan for anything that might come up and carry everything I’d need for survival/a mechanical etc. Also reinforce to myself that I can handle pretty much anything that comes up, and have done ok with that all these years so far. It’s our self-talk that undermines our confidence, I’m convinced. Fearful self talk, or confident self talk. It makes a huge difference, or it has for me anyway.

  4. Jeff Butterfield

    Age just might be a contributing factor to the worry you felt, but related to your vast amount of experience. Replaying past events–like an accident you once had at altitude, but when you were with others–could naturally lead to thinking about future possibilities. A young novice might not appreciate just how quickly things can go bad up high, but a vet like yourself knows full well. I also think that it’s a good thing to acknowledge worry: it might be that your antenna is picking up on some bad juju lurking around the next bend, so a little slap across the face to be alert can be good.

  5. Heath Sandall

    Here’s a little anti-worry device for that kind of situation. http://www.inreachdelorme.com/ The nice thing about having communication options is not only to help you out in an emergency, but to prevent others from worrying and mobilizing a search if even something simply goes awry. I always throw it in the bag and pretty much forget it on any long ride in the woods. Nice peace of mind.

  6. Joe Hydrick

    Good words, Steve.
    I think in many cases, a higher intellect(and rationalization) can actually facilitate more worrying, rather than being a defense against it.
    Go numb, stay dumb…. 🙂

  7. Steve Tilford Post author

    peter – click on the photo. at the very peak of the cabin, between the trees, there is a bear head. no taxidermy there. just skinned and left.

  8. George

    I keep one of these in my hydration pack while mountain biking. I consider the monthly fee insurance.

  9. mike

    It seems strange to me to think about bears, mountain lions, moose, etc. when riding in Summit County or anywhere in Colorado for that matter. I lived/worked in Frisco in the 80’s for 10 yrs. and these animals were never on anyone’s radar. I did spot a bear one time in Frisco and no one believed me. The next day, the newspaper had a big cover story about the bear getting captured in town and getting relocated somewhere. It seemed like a big deal at the time. As kids, we used to hike up and camp over night on Flagstaff and Green Mountain in Boulder. Now, all the same trailheads have warning signs about mountain lions.

  10. olmowebb

    That is so true. I always think (there’s my problem), that the happiest people I come across are the most oblivious to the world around them.

  11. orphan

    I think for the most part worrying is a personality trait. My wife and I have gone threw tragedy in our family and it seems to of affected us in very different ways. Our first son passed away and she struggles to not be over protective with our other kids now. I feel like I can be the opposite. I tend to want our kids to take risks because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

  12. Bob Campbell

    I have a nickname from past years of “Low-MAO”. This means I have been perceived as doing crazy things without much worry (slalom water-ski jump start off a cliff face, etc). Reality is that the crazy things I have done, were done with enough confidence such that I did not -think- I was taking on undue risk. Some people genetically have “Low-MAO” levels, other high. Everyone’s level of MAO rises over time, which leads to less risk taking as we age.

    Credit for below: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200011/are-you-risk-taker
    “The enzyme monoamine oxidase is low in high-sensation-seekers, implying a lack of regulation. What is more, levels of MAO are known to be higher in women than in men, and MAO levels in brain and in the blood rise with age. Further evidence that MAO is involved in sensation-seeking is that low MAO levels are also found in forms of psychopathology characterized by impulsive tendencies to seek immediate rewards without regard for consequences.”

  13. Paul Boudreaux

    I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit. Chuck Yeager

    These things bring you to reality as to how fragile you are; at the same moment you are doing something that nobody else is able to do. The same moment that you are seen as the best, the fastest and somebody that cannot be touched, you are enormously fragile. Ayrton Senna

  14. Jpete

    The basic premise of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that we feel how we think. We can learn to recognize our cognitions, those that help, and the distorted ones which cause our dis-ease. With work, we can recognize, challenge, and replace the negative thoughts with positive self-talk and other techniques. Worry, and anxiety are normal, of course, but we can affect the intensity and question whether worry is warranted or misplaced.

  15. Joe

    Keep in mind that in Colorado a good number of people die in the high country every year because they didn’t worry quite enough.


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