One of the key attributes for anyone on the autistic spectrum is obsessions or obsessive behaviour. Indeed, I have had countless obsessions. I have currently whittled them down to one main obsession; which sometimes feeds other from it.
As the title of this journal suggests, it’s mountain biking. I’m going to backtrack a few years by way of what one of my law lecturers referred to as “providing colour and texture”.
I used to run and cycle, a lot. my obsessive nature meant that I struggled with rest and recovery days, so I never really allowed my body to recover. Consequently I caused a serious injury to my knees. The result of this was that I had several surgical interventions and spent two decades on crutches. When I moved to Switzerland, I saw a guy who discovered that the patella was actually misplaced, as were the muscles. He rectified this and I walked out of the clinic; the crutches are probably still in my ex-wife’s garage. At pretty much that moment, I determined that I would return to cycling, but no longer having any interest in road cycling, I determined to try mountain biking.
My obsessive nature means that I have to be the best I can at anything, or I lose interest and find another thing. Therefore, from starting mountain biking in March of that year and buying my first bike, I replaced that first bike about 6 months later and had started to enter cross-country races inside of that time. Cross – Country racing is an endurance sport, so it appeals to my need for commitment, fitness and the fact that I’m naturally gifted with a reasonable threshold for pain and endurance sports suit me more than short bursts activities, such as sprinting or weight lifting. Another factor in cycling, is that it tends to appeal to a person’s ‘inner geek’, it’s possible to spend a great deal of effort and time in considering any potential purchase or event. The internet has made this all the more available; in respect of races, I can review footage of previous events, view topographical maps and countless other ways in which to prepare myself. Kit, when I can and do buy anything, it’s a highly considered decision and one that can take weeks of research. These factors may be relevant for many others, I can think of several people on the spectrum who are just as passionate about the sport as me.
The negative point of having obsessions, for an autistic person is that the interest can become all consuming. The positive is that doing the thing which we love is likely to bring a great deal of happiness to our lives. Indeed, I rapidly become insufferable and highly depressed without having an obsession.
The issue is always in finding the balance.