It is easy to get overwhelmed looking at the big picture of some trails (“wow, it is just one challenge after another”) but breaking it down step by step makes it much less daunting!
I just got an email from one of our students about National Trail on South Mountain being rather daunting and it is! However, if you break down each challenging step (which from the beginning of the first climb it keeps throwing at you) and how you can do it seems much more doable.
Remember, to reach any goal there is a series of smaller steps and goals you have to achieve along the way. It is easy to look at the whole trail and say, “wow, 1,400 vertical feet in four miles with a bunch of one to four foot step ups, lots of steep loose sections, turns with step ups in the middle, I will never make it” (wasn’t it Gulliver who always said that?)
Instead of taking this negative approach focus more on being in the moment and tackling each step as and when you get to them. Often we are so worried about something coming up on the trail that we mess up on an easy section because we aren’t focused on the present! Can you wheelie while climbing, can you shift your weight over an obstacle, can look ahead the entire ride? If you have answered yes to those questions you can ride most trails. You simply need to focus on each challenge as it comes and if you do this before long you will be at the top of the climb or end of your ride.
A great example of this is climbing National Trail at South Mountain in Phoenix. Not only is it steep, it starts with a four foot high steeply slanted rock ledge and then throws tricky up and over moves and twists at you while you heart and lungs are redlining. It also has big rock steps on flat and downhill sections. Here is certified coach Chris Skolnick showing how by using four simple core skills (vision, body position, coaster wheelie/manual and a weight shift) he is able to get over a big rock.
Focus on one section at a time, relax, have fun and soon you will have conquered that Overwhelming trail!