Riding uphill, I seem to pivot between a small number of mental activities. The default is "monkey mind": Hopping from one thought to the next in a never-ending chain. When I recognize this I try to switch to one of three other options: watching my breath, solving problems (such as coming up with material for comics in a timely and semi-humorous fashion), or repeating some phrase to myself, like "nice and steady." Really, just anything other than "holy hell, when will the climb ever end?!" seems to keep my inner whiner at bay, which is essentially what I'm after on a climb.
When it comes to the downhills, all the mental chatter just drops away as we morph into the present moment by necessity. We are here and now again and again and again as we navigate rocks, roots, jumps, berms, whatever, at speed. Experience and quick decision-making usually get us to the bottom stoked and ready to do it all again.
Give us more time to ponder, and you'd think we'd come up with even better decisions than we make while our hair's on fire, ripping down a mountain... but as we know, more time to ruminate, doesn't always equate to a better decision.Sometimes a "lose-lose" situation turns out to be a "win" if you pay attention to the details.Because as long as we're riding, it almost doesn't matter what we hit the trails on.Because once we're at the top, the resolve to just "get the hell out there and ride," always proves itself to be the best decision of the day.