Joshua Nuttall is part of the marketing team at Purple Group, a CN&CO client. He uses his IN THE SADDLE column on our blog to share the thoughts that pop into his head while he’s out riding his bicycle…

A touch of personal reflection as I head down to the Cape for my first MTB stage race. I’m a bit nervous, I will admit… but nerves are good!

Why are nerves good? Well, it’s hard to describe. It links to the saying “butterflies in your tummy”. It’s the excitement of the unknown – not knowing what to expect or what this journey will hold.

My bike has taken me to some amazing places and created a great number of memories so far! So what’s different about this one?

A year or two ago I probably would have said no to an opportunity like this, or made an excuse that sounded logical or rational. Sure, there are things that have changed; I have matured, now earn my own salary, etc. But this speaks to more of a general life lesson. I wasn’t very good at dealing with change. I liked to plan everything “to the T”. Going with the flow was a foreign concept to me.

The opportunity to race Tankwa Trek, a premium MTB stage race in SA, was presented to me by a mate in the middle of January 2017. I had three-and-a-bit weeks to get everything sorted, which is not long at all. But I kept telling myself, “Josh this in an opportunity and a challenge. Don’t turn it down.”

Reflecting on this, sure there was a part of me that was apprehensive and questioned if it was too soon to be doing a stage race of this nature. Am I good enough technically? Strong enough? Up to my partner’s standards? And is there enough time to sort out the logistics of flights, transport, accommodation, etc.?

In the past I know that I would have let these doubts and questions override the opportunity and potential that awaits. This time it was a little different, though. I decided to take up the challenge, to try something different, because if I kept making mental excuses I would never know what I was missing. Hence I am on a plane and heading down to the Cape.

It’s very easy to make excuses, to opt out or take the easy road. There are a number of things that led me to take up this challenge, and I am happy I did. Yip, there are loads of nerves; but that’s good! Taking on something new and unknown doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I have learnt to go with the flow, to keep smiling in stressful situations, and to remember to have fun.

So what has this taught me?

You can’t control everything. Control what you can, but don’t get stressed out by things that you can’t. I have a long way to go on this still, but it’s much improved. Take up an opportunity when it presents itself and don’t be so strict!

Change scares a lot of people. My challenge – to myself and to you – is: Try it. It’s not that bad and will make you a stronger person, smile more, and you might have a bit of fun in the process!

Have a cracking week!