October 10, 2016 at 4:42 am #198216
My friends who don’t ride think I go out purely for the adrenaline- and I do go out for the adrenaline. But what they don’t know is that mountain biking gives the rider so much more than that sweet invigorating rush. On my last spectacular fall ride on one of my favorite local trail systems my mind wandered to thoughts of friends in hard times, and my own hard times…and how riding always seems to bring me up and out of the hard times… and I realized why:
MOUNTAIN BIKING IS LIFE
<u>Lesson one</u>: The smoothest line is not always the best line.
In mountain biking we learn this lesson to teach us that we sometimes have to ride over certain obstacles if we want to go faster in the long run, if we want a better experience overall.Obstacles in our life path can make us better, make us progress farther. We don’t grow all that much if we always take the easy line.
<u>Lesson two:</u> Obstacles- we learn to ride over them, or around them or to jump them, but the ride doesn’t stop because they exist.// <u>Lesson two, part two:</u> Not everything is rideable. Don’t ride outside your limits.
A trail ride is made up of endless obstacles and endless options of how we can handle them. We might have to be creative, we might have to be careful, might have to ride them over and over again before we ride them well. When we have obstacles set before us in life, we have to figure out to get over them and around them and there are many choices. But life doesn’t stop because they show up!
Sometimes we have to get off and walk. It doesn’t mean the ride ends, it just means we hop off so we don’t crash, and then we get back on and keep going. Sometimes in life we take on too much, and we have to step back, slow down and start over. It doesn’t mean it’s all over- it just means we regroup and then get going again.
<u>Lesson three</u>: As long as your front wheel is tracking, it’s all good.
In mountain biking it’s very important to learn that it’s ok to allow your rear wheel to drift around a bit. If you keep the front wheel pointed and planted in the direction you want to go, and you don’t let it slide you will go exactly where you want no matter what the rear wheel is doing. In life it doesn’t really matter what happened behind right now, as long as you keep looking ahead, heading forward. If your rear wheel can just drift around wherever it wants, then it doesn’t matter what past is following you around does it? It could even be way off track, but it doesn’t make any difference in how you forge ahead if you stay on track. This doesn’t mean we can just drop our rear wheel- we need it there to stay balanced and it is the wheel that has the drivetrain- we can’t go forward without it. What happens behind us on the bike is what drives us forward. What happens behind you in your life is what drives you forward- you just don’t have to be burdened by whether it tracked or drifted.
<u>Lesson four</u><u>:</u> Don’t look at what you don’t want to hit.
In mountain biking we learn about keeping our line of vision directed on where we want to go. Your brain makes your body follow that line of vision. So if you see a giant thorny tree and you don’t want to run into it, don’t look at it! In your life, if you don’t want things to end up a certain way, then don’t look that direction! If things aren’t going the way you want them to- change your line of vision! Don’t look at rocks and hit them!
<u>Lesson five</u>: Shift!
You need to shift before you start up that big hill. If you don’t shift on time you’ll spin out, or stall out. When you face a change in life, if you don’t shift your gears on time, you’ll spin out, or stall out. Be ready to make changes, accept the gear changes that are required!
<u>Lesson six</u><u>:</u> Learn to ride with your opposite foot forward.
Everyone has a dominant foot- the one that we ride with forward. Most of the time, it’s best to ride with that foot forward- it’s the most comfortable and makes us feel the most confident. But sometimes you don’t get a chance to reset and get that foot forward and you have to take an obstacle with the other foot in front. So when you ride you practice riding that way until it becomes comfortable too. Stay flexible in your life- you never know what might come before you get a chance to reset. Learn to keep going even if you are not in your favorite position.
<u>Lesson seven:</u> Keep your pedals level.
If we ride trails with one foot dropped, we get a pedal strike. A pedal strike can equal an ugly crash and you almost never see it coming. Stay centered in your life, keep yourself planted straight and level- you won’t strike something and crash.
<u>Lesson eight</u>: Don’t ride stiff/Don’t be a dead sailor.
Riding stiff gets you bucked by the terrain. You have to keep your body loose and moving with the ups and downs and hits of the terrain. If you stay stiff when you jump your bike you land heavy or float off course and it isn’t graceful. If you live life stiff you get bucked, you land heavy and it isn’t graceful. Learn to flow with the terrain, and fly with grace.
<u>Lesson nine</u><u>:</u> Slippery roots can throw you off course.
If we don’t ride slippery roots at the right angle, you slide right off at unpredictable angles, slide out when we try to pedal them and lose control. If your roots are slippery you slip, you slide, you lose control. Pick good roots, don’t rely on slippery ones.
<u>Lesson ten:</u> Don’t give up just because you slid out.
If we are pedaling up a steep and we lost traction, it’s easy to step off and walk the rest of the way up. But if we rebalance quickly and dig in, we can recover that slip without having to give up. If you slip, rebalance as quickly as you can, dig in and keep going.
<u>Lesson eleven:</u> Check your brakes before you start.
We ride up and down mountains- we need brakes. If you get into something crazy and you can’t stop, you are in trouble. Before you jump in, make sure you have a way out in case it gets sketchy.
<u>Lesson twelve</u>: Don’t drag your brakes.
Commit. If we ride certain obstacles and terrain with the brakes on we slip, slide and ride out of control. If we commit and lay off the brakes we flow, we roll freely and it feels oh so good. If you’re gonna go for it, then go for it. Live and love without the brakes on.
<u>Lesson thirteen</u>: If you can see it, you can be it!
We learn that when we ride, our own inner vision can take us forward or hold us back. Sometimes we make that big gap or that super skinny because we believed we could, we could see ourselves making it in our mind’s eye. See it! Believe it! You CAN do what you believe you can do! If you don’t believe it, you won’t.
<u>Lesson fourteen:</u> Steer with your whole body, and your whole bike.
Steering by just turning the handle bars is sketchy and not stable. You lean your body, lean your bike to turn and corner with greatness. Steer your life with your whole self, front and rear, past, present and future. Turn with greatness!
<u>Lesson fifteen:</u> It’s usually best to stand up.
Mountain bike saddles should only be used for recovery cruising. We descend better, ascend stronger and flow smoother off that saddle. Stand up! Stand up for you, and stand up for everyone and everything you believe in. You ascend better and flow smoother that way!
<u>Lesson sixteen</u><u>:</u> Set your suspension and use it.
Suspension on our mountain bikes lets us ride trails and obstacles that we couldn’t ride without it. Suspension on our bikes helps us absorb the hard hits and land softer than we could without it. Our suspension needs to be soft enough to take the hits, and firm enough that it doesn’t suck up all our energy. Suspension is our support system. We use it. Use your support system! Your friends, your family- they help you absorb the hard hits and help you land softer. Make sure they are soft enough and firm enough.
<u>Lesson seventeen:</u> Foot out, flat out!/ Just a little dab’ll do ya.
You can take corners harder and faster if you drop that inside foot. You can make it over something a little off balance if you reach out and dab. No shame in dabbing- I’m a dabber. If I get to stay on the bike, then I have no problem tripod-ing when 2 wheels aren’t enough. Sometimes 2 wheels aren’t enough. Reach out- and get a little more support. You don’t have to go it alone.
<u>Lesson eighteen:</u> Wear your helmet.
Stay safe out there. Make sure your protective gear is on!
<u>Lesson nineteen</u>: Perfect your attack position.
I left this towards last even tho it might be mountain biking’s most important lesson. We ride in our attack position because we ride more aggressively and with more versatility. You are in a position to handle obstacles fluidly, you are in a position to push hard, and in a position that allows you to absorb the trail. Stay in your attack position, you can’t get bucked, you can’t get pushed off course and you will be ready to take the hard hits.
<u>Lesson twenty</u>: Take a dog with you!
October 17, 2016 at 10:24 pm #198958
Nice list of critical skills that every MTB rider should apply. And interesting approach in incorporating it into everyday life.
I disagree with number 15: on long climbs it’s better to pedal while sitting unless you riding Slickrock’s near vertical terrain.
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