When I first started mountain biking about year ago, I wanted to be a freerider. Freeriding is awesome. It's exciting, it looks cool, it's challenging. Over the last year though, I've determined that it's not really for me. It hurts too much. I hate to say it, but even at 24, I feel like I'm too old to start freeriding (although I know that some other people have done it).
This doesn't mean I won't continue to ride hard... I have a little story to tell: A while back, sometime around February I was riding with two frinds of mine in Santa Cruz. We were riding a particular trail that ends in a chute about 30 feet long that is very steep, very rocky, and has it's fair share of roots as well. When we got to the end of the trail, we were looking down at that chute, and there was a kid who looked like he was in high school sitting at the bottom of the chute. He was wearing full DH gear and straddling an Intense M1, and he was trying to get us to ride the chute. We all walked down. But the kid kept talking to us. Telling us we should have ridden it. I told HIM to ride it, and he did. He carried his bike back up and rode it. After watching him and the line he took, I said "I can do that", and I went back up and I rode it. Neither my friends did, and as we sat at the bottom of the trail, we watched some other people finish up the trail, and the kid tried to get them to ride the chute too, but no one did.
So, while I might not be the ultimate freerider, I still think i push myself harder than most other MTBers out there (maybe not as much as the guys on this forums, since it's pretty freeride biased), and I'll continue to push myself and try to do my best, but I've decided that giant jumps and drops aren't my thing. My bike will stay on the ground most of the time, with the occasional small (2-3 foot) jump or drop. More than that is just too dangerous for me. I've got too many scars already, and I think i've permanently damaged my right wrist.
So I guess what I'm saying, is I want to continue to ride hard, but in a different way - I guess I've decided that my own style isn't the same style that makes it into videos, and it's taken a year, but I've started to figure out how I really want to ride.