We all have different relationships to risk throughout our mountain biking life. Below is my experience and I'd love to know about yours in the comments below...
For over 20 years, I maintained a high riding standard for my entertainment based film segments. My integrity as a pro survived based on my ability to maintain that standard and manage high risk riding lines consistently. Risk was worth it, and has served my career well.
My pay cheques relied on it. Nail that line. Perform that show. Over and over. Body & mind in sync and on-board for the ride.
Throughout a recent filming trip to Europe, I felt the momentum to maintain my filming standards. Each time I was faced with the possibility of riding a cool but risky line I was conflicted. When I tried to ride the line my body just wouldn’t do what I knew it should be able to do, or I chose not to ride the line because all I could see was the increased potential for crashes and injuries. It was a...
Have you ever raced or does it scare you? Consider racing just to ride as your goal! You’ll challenge yourself, your skills and your fitness. Where else but a race can you enjoy following a stranger who’s just a little bit faster than you or share your secrets with someone a little slower? You’ll discover new trails and meet new riding buddies. You’ll try features you might not otherwise, and ride in weather you certainly wouldn’t ride in otherwise.
When I started riding, my closest friends were more interested in road riding. I had one or two mountain biking friends, but I felt embarrassed to ride with them as they were so fast.
So I signed up for my first cross-country mountain bike race. I went alone. It sounded like a fun excuse to go ride in a place I’ve never visited. To get there I drove to the middle of nowhere through ice and snow, turned right, and then drove another 30 miles.
I found a lot of comfort out on the course. In a race...
An inspiring and useful course completion report from Renzo who just finished The 12 Ride Flat Pedal Challenge. Thanks Renzo!…
Completion Reflection Questions and Answers from Renzo:
1) How would you describe the increase of connection to and with your bike from Ride #1 and now after Ride #12?
a) Before starting the flat pedal challenge, I would have described my connection to my bike as a good combination of line choice assisted by being clipped in, with the “clipless” (man, I hate that paradox) aspect providing forgiveness for flawed technique. I was “one with the bike” in a more literal, mechanical sense due to being grabbed by the clipless system. That allowed me to force the bike into following me instead of working with it to achieve a goal in a smoother way.
b) Currently, I’d say I’m “one with the bike” in a more metaphorical or spiritual sense. I’m more aware of the feedback that I’m receiving through the...
Written By Coach Elaine Bothe from the Ryan Leech Connection Team
“Should I or shouldn’t I?” Enjoying challenges, building skills progressively and assessing risks are part of what makes mountain biking so fun. But how do you decide if a feature on an unfamiliar trail is within your skills or comfort zone? This article isn’t going to teach you dropping and jump skills (we’ll save those for other sections on this website). We will help you build your own assessment tools and how to decide whether to try a feature or save it for another day!
Learning good drop technique, building up to the big ones slowly and investigating a drop before sending it will be safer and more fun when you are ready!
Is it rollable? Many small drops and jumps are rollable, which makes a trail more enjoyable to riders with a variety skills. When I’m checking out a new feature, I’ll walk it, look at it from the top and from the bottom first. I look for odd...
Here is a particularly relevant question that one of our website readers sent in. Who hasn’t felt the same way? Read on, and share your experiences overcoming fear in the comments section below!
Reader: Hi, I’m a slowly aging female rider. I find I sabotage my learning because I am terrified of falling. I’ve broken several bones and have other lasting injuries. It seems to me I’ll never really get anywhere until I learn how to fall and improve my mental outlook. I am looking to acquire the specific skill of falling without getting hurt or to minimize getting hurt.
An analogy in my life would be skiing. I’m a competent skier and I generally don’t shy away from learning skills on my skis by trial and error. This approach enabled me to quickly progress my skiing skills over far fewer hours than...
*If you have hit your head in a crash – please seek medical attention as soon as possible. These 7 considerations are NOT a replacement for first-aid protocol – and we highly recommend riders take first-aid to understand the abc’s of tending to another rider who has crashed whether they hit their head or not.
Head injuries in sports are making a lot of news lately, which raises awareness about the severity of head injuries. Even so, the prevailing culture including athletes themselves, coaches, parents and sometimes even medical staff seemingly minimizes the importance of treating head injuries, unless someone loses consciousness or is obviously in trouble.
As mountain bikers, the last thing we want to do is stop riding. Unless we’re obviously hurt or our bike is broken, we’re ready to go. It’s amazing how hard of a crash we can take and seem completely fine, with just a few new bruises or scrapes and a story to tell.
Some very bad head...
From the Ryan Leech Connection Mtn Bike Skill Coaching Website
I have spent the last few months working on a variety of skills/challenges: manuals, bunnyhops, balance, technical climbing, etc. Because of this, I haven’t actually tried to wheelie in quite a while.
This morning, I decided to go to my local supermarket parking lot, and reacquaint myself with this skill. I started out with the basics– 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke brake– no problem. Then I tried to hold a wheelie, having completed the 30 Day Wheelie Challenge (twice) over a year ago. Yikes! I fell to the right, I fell to the left, I came close to looping out. I was low in the float zone, I had trouble getting beyond 5 or 6 strokes. I got FRUSTRATED, and thought– I forgot this skill that I had worked so hard to achieve!
Luckily, I had my iPhone in the car. I pulled up the Ryan Leech Connection website, and went straight to one of my favorite lessons in the challenge: Day 16, future...
Guest Post by Elaine Bothe
Are you stuck on a lesson or not quite getting something? What have you found helpful to blast through it?
During a recent practice session, I discovered how reviewing other skills and riding on different terrain can help! When you hit a plateau, try these ideas to mix up your practice sessions.
Review or start the Baseline Balance Skills series. These foundation lessons helped me reboot my wheelie and improved a lot of other useful trail skills.
Back up two or three lessons, and practice those skills on different terrain. With some extra caution or more armor than usual, ride your favorite gradual uphill slope when it’s bumpy and dry. Ride when it’s windy! Or practice in a new field. Make your field new by going downhill, or traverse across it! Practice on a gravel road, dust over hard pack, even pavement if you’ve been working on grass. Go slower. Or a little faster! You’ll learn how to adjust your technique and balance in new...
Soon to be published in Explore Magazine:
Bring awareness to your breath
Seemingly simple, and seriously profound. Yet reliable access to the focus that breath awareness brings is not simple, it’s a skill, and requires an ability to become more quickly aware of those times you’re preoccupied with planning, calculation, judgement, and general thought.
Bring awareness to your body
Breath awareness can then extend to body awareness. Access to body awareness that is free of judgement is also challenging, especially during adventure; athletes like to quantify their bodily sensations with tags such as tired, sore, strong, good, bad, which are largely based on past experiences which then predict and influence what will happen in the future. Allowing your body to be-just-as-it-is moment to moment can free you to perform more naturally and up to your full potential.
Bring awareness to the environment
Become aware of...
Wheelies took a very long time for me to learn. It was one of the very first tricks I worked on with my first mountain bike. I practiced relentlessly to learn it.
Once I overcame my frustrations and finally learned to wheelie, I had the belief that I could learn other technical bike tricks. I then discovered trials riding, and with my trust in practice, believed I could learn trials with enough dedication.
Essentially, I came to believe in the power of practice.
With yoga, I thought I was just a stiff biker dude, and would always be that way. My yoga teacher told me otherwise, and with practice I now enjoy, among many other things, an incredible range of motion.
With meditation, I thought it was a waste of time, both scientific and anecdotal evidence told me otherwise, so I practiced and sure enough, the benefits have been profound.
If you have an hour to practice something, how are you going to make use of that time? I remember when I was learning trials, I’d go on group...