Frustration to Fun

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Frustrated by a lack of progress with your MTB skills practice? It might be time for a mental reset. RLC Ambassador, Carl Roe explains... 

We live in a society that idolises success and frowns on failure. This can result in an all-or-nothing approach to life that poisons our MTB skills progression. It’s not at all unusual to feel like you’ve ‘failed’ if you don’t complete a course, or master that skill you’ve been dreaming about – this judgment is built into the very fabric of our culture. 

Mental Reboot

If you’re frustrated with your lack of progress, or have let your practice sessions slide for whatever reason, a metal reset can really help. To perform a mental reboot consider the following:

  • Success is not defined by how many skills you master, or courses you complete, but by one measurable metric: showing up. If you show up, success is inevitable. 
  • Every course has at least one or two crux points where riders struggle and extra time and effort is needed to break through to the next level. Knowing these exist and being patient will pay off. Struggle is just part of the process. If it were easy every rider would be able to wheelie, manual, bunnyhop [insert desired skill here].
  • Time on the bike practicing does amazing things for your bike handling skill and bike-body awareness in general. These improvements flow through into other areas of your riding so you can’t help but become a more well rounded rider. It doesn’t matter WHAT you practice, it's more important that you DO practice. 

We expect to climb the ladder of continuous improvement

  • The majority of skills do not require mastery to be highly useful on the trail. For example, expert-level manuals are not required to clear small trail features, so you can begin applying manuals much earlier in the course than you might imagine. Or a wheelie lift will pop the front wheel up onto a ledge without being able to wheelie a long distance.
  • Completing courses is great, but is not required to improve your overall riding. In fact, completing the first couple of modules in multiple courses is an efficient way to increase your overall ability without ever attempting advanced lessons. 
  • If MTB skills practice isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong! Having unrealistic expectations or measuring success based on metrics outside of our control leads to frustration and eventual defeat.  

The reality is more like a rollercoaster

Developing MTB skills takes a lot longer than the majority of riders expect. We’re talking months and years, not days or weeks. And the learning process isn’t a linear ascent to greatness like climbing a ladder. The process is better described as a roller-coaster with lots of ups and downs, including some scary bits that might make you scream. Feel-good sessions with uplifting ah-ha moments are punctuated by days when we just want to throw our bike in a dumpster… and everything in between.

Expecting continuous progression is a recipe for frustration. So if you’re finding skills practice frustrating (we all do), consider shifting your focus. Progression is inevitable if you simply show up and enjoy the journey.

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