So its not quite too late for New Year’s Resolutions … and here’s one for anybody that rides a bike on dirt: get out there and get your hands dirty with a few days of trail maintenance this season.
So how do you get great riding out of a place that is a flat, sandy, swampy, bug-infested jungle? Simple (or not), you build it! There is one reason that the trail systems that I rode were in existence and a blast to ride: a massive amount of trail work.
My point is this: from the above rant, did it sound like I had a good time? Those people made some awesome trails out of nothing. I don’t plan on moving to South Florida anytime in the future but if I do, I’ll still be an avid MTB’er and I won’t be hurtin’ for a wide selection of fun trails – all because a few people were willing to dream the dream and then put it into action.
So, skip a ride or two this season and help build some trails. Trust me, the cold beer will taste just as good at the end of the day … maybe even better!
Interesting talk by Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on the state of flow and how this is the state when we are most happy.
The last two minutes contain a great chart that shows you that flow starts when our challenge and skill set are both pushed above average.
This means when we have great skill and are not challenged at all we will often be bored. When we face a challenge and our skills are weak we feel worried.
This is why as you skills increase the trails you once enjoyed become less interesting or you have to go faster and/or take harder lines to keep that trail as fun as it was with less skill.
Video of BetterRide coached athlete Mitch Ropelato throwing down at the 2010 Crankworx pump track competition. (Mitch is wearing white t-shirt and has black wrist brace on) Three weeks after breaking his collarbone Mitch wins this competition!
So its winter-time. And one bummer about winter is that, as mountain bikers, access to our sport, and more specificity, our trails, will be limited – sometimes altogether eliminated! But even if we are forced to spend extended time off the bike (I plan on covering some winter-riding topics in the future), there are still plenty of things we can do to maintain our riding skill-set.
Most riders that I know jump into the typical winter-time cyclist’s regime of riding the road bike, the stationary trainer, and hitting the gym, accepting the fact that during those first real mountain bike rides of spring, they’ll be rusty, scared, and possibly crash they’re brains out. While the above work-out activities definitely can provide certain benefits, they really won’t do squat for a MTB’ers technical prowess on the bike.
Mountain biking is an incredibly mentally taxing activity. We are constantly making adjustments and corrections, we are often fighting fatigue, we often need to deal with emotions such as frustration or even anger.
I consistently see a difference in riders, beginners or other-wise, in their abilities to learn and/or adapt on the bicycle in relation to their athletic participation outside of bike riding.
A few good ones: as many of you are already aware, skiing and snowboarding are great for this. Not only do they require a mind-body awareness in a challenging environment, but they also give us a sense of speed and force us to use our vision (possibly the most important aspect of riding a MTB) in a similar way that we do on a bicycle. Sports such as racquetball, basketball, or martial arts (to name a few) are also excellent for our riding because, again, they will force us to be “athletic problem solvers” and engage our mind-body awareness.
In conclusion: it is winter-time, enjoy a little time away from your bicycle, but stay active, and be intelligent in your choice of activities. Go out and compete with yourself (and/or others) and learn something about yourself as an athlete (in success and failure!). Keep that competitive mind and your mind-body connection sharp even if you aren’t putting in an extensive amount of time on the bike. If done correctly, these gains will carry over into your riding season.
There are two big myths in the cycling community that hold back many riders. The myth of the “natural athlete” and the myth of the “magic pill” have played a huge role in depressing riders confidence for years.
Many people seem to think that the best people in sports are gifted or born with natural talent and that simply isn’t the case.
Yet despite not being a “natural athlete” I have done okay for myself in snowboarding and mountain biking.
The “magic pill” or “pros secret” does not exist. So many people think that if they just knew that “one thing” that Steve Peat, JHK, Sam Hill, Ryan Trebon, or whoever their hero his knew they could ride as well as them.